What If My Child Is Injured in a Random Shooting While Occupying an Automobile?

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Children, at times, are the unfortunate victims of random shootings. Some occur while a child is merely occupying a parked vehicle or occupying a vehicle heading down the street. Randoms acts of violence cause serious personal injuries and even the deaths of children every year. One such random shooting was reported in near Orlando, Florida. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office reported that a 15 year old girl was shot while in a vehicle heading home from church. The girl was in the vehicle with her parents. It was reported that the gun fire came from a Sedan and a SUV. Law enforcement officials reported that the girl was in the “wrong place” at the “wrong time”. For more information regarding this incident, see Shooting of 15 Year Old Girl Reported Near Orlando – Florida – Wrong Time and Wrong Place.

Hopefully, the Orange Park Sheriff’s Office will be able to locate the shooter(s) and bring them to justice. Under Florida law, victims of random shootings who have been in a vehicle at the time of the incident have attempted to file claims under their Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage. Most of these cases have been unsuccessful in obtaining insurance payment or coverage for the injuries. Nevertheless, a family of a shooting victim should still consult an attorney to find out the potential legal rights and insurance coverage that may apply to a particular claim or case. Each claim or case should be evaluated on its own facts and merits. Since insurance policies also differ as to language and potential interpretation, it makes sense to have a legal review of the insurance policy and facts to determine the potential legal rights of the injured child.

In Taylor v. Phoenix Insurance Company, 622 So.2d 1993 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 1993), the Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled on a case involving a random shooting. The facts were similar to the facts of the story recently reported. The Fifth District Court of Appeal stated as follows:

We are not persuaded by the reasoning of these cases and are unable to find that coverage exists in the present case. As expressed in the Phoenix policy, coverage arises out of the “ownership, maintenance or use of the uninsured motor vehicle.” We cannot fairly conclude that the facts of this case fall within that requirement. HN2A bullet wound does not arise out of the use of a motor vehicle. Shooting a gun is an act unrelated to use of a motor vehicle; it in no way depends on or involves a motor vehicle.

In the Taylor case, the Fifth District Court of Appeals determined that there was no insurance coverage for this random shooting incident. While this case is not a particularly helpful case to establishing coverage for a random shooting incident, the laws and interpretation of the laws do change and evolve over time.