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Homeowner’s policy covers defense
of lawsuit stemming from fatal ATV crash

(5/14/2004) - A homeowner’s insurance policy provides coverage for a fatal ATV accident occurring on an adjacent field and the insurer is obligated to provide a defense on the homeowner’s behalf in a wrongful death claim filed by a third party, a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled.

In State Farm and Casualty Co. v. MacDonald, the Superior Court panel on May 11, 2023 affirmed a trial court’s decision granting summary judgment to MacDonald in a declaratory action by State Farm contending that MacDonald’s homeowner’s insurance policy neither provides coverage for the accident nor obligates it to provide a defense. State Farm argued that the accident, which occurred on the adjacent filed, is not covered under the terms of the homeowner’s policy.

But the Superior Court panel said it found “ample evidence that MacDonald repeatedly rode his ATV from his property onto the adjacent field and back,” wrote Senior Judge Justin Johnson. “We conclude that MacDonald has used the adjacent filed in connection with his residence premises under the plain meaning of the term ‘insured location’ contained in his homeowner’s insurance policy.”

A copy of the opinion is available form the appellate court’s web site.

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