Facts: The plaintiff was injured when her feet were run over by a wagon pulled by a tractor while attending a "haunted hayride" event at Appleview Orchard. She made claims against both the tractor operator's liability policy and her own personal auto policy issued by the defendant, Concord General.
The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the tractor operator's liability insurer, but ruled that the plaintiff was entitled to both uninsured motorist coverage and medical payments coverage under her policy with Concord General.
The medical payments section of the policy provided coverage for medical expenses incurred by the insured "as a pedestrian when struck by....a motor vehicle designed for use mainly on public roads or a 'trailer' of any type." The policy defined "trailer" as "a vehicle designed to be pulled by a: 1. private passenger auto; or 2. a pickup or van....and to mean a farm wagon or farm implement while towed by a vehicle listed in 1. or 2. above." The trial court found that the policy was ambiguous and must be construed in favor of coverage.
The uninsured motorist endorsement of the policy defined "uninsured motor vehicle" to mean "a land motor vehicle or trailer of any type." The endorsement also contained an exclusion which provided that "uninsured motor vehicle" does not include "any vehicle or equipment .... designed mainly for use off public roads while not on public roads." The trial court also found these provisions to be ambiguous and ruled in favor of coverage.
Concord General appealed.
Held: Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
The Court held that the medical payments coverage provisions were not ambiguous, and did not afford coverage for injuries caused by a farm wagon being towed by a tractor, rather than by an auto, pickup or van. The term 'trailer' was defined in the policy as having a narrow, specialized meaning. The farm wagon in this case fell outside the definition of 'trailer' because it was being towed by a tractor, thus placing the plaintiff outside the definition of "insured."
The Court also determined that the wagon, which did not have brake lights, was not designed to be pulled by an auto, pickup or van and, therefore, was not a "trailer" within the meaning of the medical payments section of the policy.
However, the Court ruled that the uninsured motorist provisions of the policy - specifically, the "off public roads" exclusion - were ambiguous. Since they must be construed in favor of the insured, the policy provided coverage for the plaintiff's claims.
The Court noted that the wagon was designed mainly for use off public roads and was not being operated on a public road at the time of the accident. However, in order for the exclusion to apply, the wagon must qualify as "any vehicle or equipment." The Court found that it was reasonable to interpret the phrase "any vehicle or equipment" as used in the uninsured motorist endorsement exclusion as implying a meaning different from "land motor vehicle or trailer of any type." The farm wagon, which was designed to carry something else, was clearly "a trailer of any type." According to the Court, it was reasonable to interpret the exclusion of coverage for "any vehicle or equipment" as applying only to motorized vehicles and equipment not designed to carry something else, and not to a trailer such as the farm wagon. The Court concluded that the uninsured motorist provisions could be construed as providing coverage for the claim.