Review of Court Decisions - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 27, No. 1
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
UNINSURED MOTORIST — DEFINITION OF UNINSURED — STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS — EFFECT OF "EXCESS-ESCAPE" CLAUSE — EFFECT OF STATUTORY COVERAGE AMENDMENT — NOTICE AND COMPROMISE PROVISIONS
The plaintiff was injured while a passenger in a friend's automobile which was struck in the rear while standing, by a taxicab which carried minimum "taxicab" coverage under G.L.1956 §89-14-18 which is less than state minimum liability coverage for automobiles generally (G.L.1956 §31-31-7). Plaintiff released her friend from liability without consent by her insurer and delayed notifying her own uninsured motorist carrier (defendant in this action) by at least four months. The uninsured motorist policy was in the amount of $6,000/$10,000 and subsequent to its issuance but prior to the accident, the statute (GL.L.1966 §27-7-2.1) was amended, doubling the required coverage. The action against the insurer was brought more than three years after the injuries. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island held;
A taxicab is "uninsured" even though it conforms to a statute mandating minimum insurance for taxicabs when that minimum is lower than the general automobile liability insurance statute. The taxi statute predated the general enactment and, as there was no conflict they must be harmonized. The burden of showing whether there was additional insurance on the taxi is upon the insurer. The six-year contract Statute of Limitations (G.L. §9-1-13) applies to an action against the insurer and not the two-year Statute (G.L. §9-1-14) for injuries to the person. Since the plaintiff would have no action if not for the insurance policy, the defendant's liability arises from that contract.