How many times have you driven down the road only to encounter a box sitting in the middle of the road? While it is not an everyday occurrence, it does happen fairly often. If the box is cardboard and empty, most likely, hitting it with one's vehicle would not cause much if any damage. If it is full however, depending on its contents, extensive property damage and possibly bodily injuries could occur.
Motorists throughout the state of Pennsylvania should take note of a recent decision handed down by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision renders it possible that a box in the road that is hit by a vehicle and causes damage be considered the equivalent of an uninsured vehicle.
This decision stems from a car accident that occurred in Beaver County in 2008. In that accident, a vehicle travelling down Route 51 hit a box resulting in damage. The man who was behind the wheel of the car sought coverage from his insurer, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance. The coverage was denied.
A lower court backed Allstate's decision. A U.S. District Judge indicated that even when one assumes the box fell from another vehicle, if the object made contact with another vehicle, that contact could not be considered to have arisen out of the use of a car.
The 3rd Circuit disagreed with the lower court. While the decision made clear not all boxes in the road will be considered an uninsured vehicle for insurance purposes, in this case it might. That will be decided back at the U.S. District Court after additional evidence is presented.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "When is a box in the road not a box?" Rich Lord, Jan. 26, 2012