Auto insurance policies generally cover sudden or unexpected injuries that involve an automobile. This doesn’t always necessarily mean that the only incidents that would be covered would be those involving a vehicle-on-vehicle collision while at least one of the cars is in motion. However, neither can it mean, according to a recent Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion, a Maine dog bite that did not specifically arise from the use of the automobile.
A similar case arose in 1987, with the same court deciding in Union Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Commercial Union Ins. that a gunshot wound incurred when a weapon in the back of a vehicle was accidentally discharged was not covered under the auto insurance policy.
In the more recent case, the dog in question was co-owned by two unmarried individuals. While the female co-owner of the dog had an auto insurance policy that covered her and her vehicle, the male co-owner was operating one of his employer’s cars to meet the plaintiff, who had purchased an old pickup truck from the dog owner’s son. The dog owner brought his dog with him in the car. While transferring the pickup truck, someone (it is disputed who exactly it was, but the issue isn’t material) opened the door to the vehicle with the dog in it. The dog, without leaving the vehicle, bit the plaintiff in the face.