Steven Plitt, Expert Witness Steven Plitt, Expert Witness
Insurance Bad Faith Claim Handling Expert Serving Clients Nationwide

CHILD ABUSE IN SCHOOL BUS DOES NOT GIVE RISE TO UM CLAIM

Recently the Supreme Court of Virginia in Corriveau v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co., 836 S.E.2d 694 (Va. 2019) ruled that child abuse inflicted by a bus driver and a bus driver's aide were not covered by the victim's uninsured motorist coverage. The Court found that the tortious misconduct could have occurred anywhere and therefore it did not result specifically from the use of the bus for transportation purposes. The case involved the abuse of an autistic child whereby a school bus driver and the driver's aide inflicted physical injury on the autistic child. The child's mother reported the claim to her uninsured motorist insurer, State Farm. State Farm denied coverage on the ground that the injuries did not arise from the use of the bus itself. Ultimately, the Virginia Supreme Court found that the abused child was not injured by the use of the bus as a bus, but rather upon experiencing physical abuse by adults upon special needs children. That type of conduct was not intrinsically associated with the use of a motor vehicle and could have occurred anywhere. The court reached this result notwithstanding the fact that the bus was equipped with special harnesses to keep the children restrained. The Court noted that the harness could restrain a person anywhere, not just on a bus.

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