Transamerica Insurance Co. v. Doe
In Transamerica Insurance Co. v. Doe, 173 Ariz. 112, 840 P.2d 288 (App. 1992), appellants had given emergency medical assistance to victims of a car accident and, in doing so, were exposed to blood infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). After a year of testing, however, appellants' blood did not reveal the presence of HIV, and their physician deemed further testing unnecessary.
Appellants nonetheless claimed to have sustained bodily injury from their exposure to HIV and sought compensation from their own carrier, Transamerica, under the underinsured motorist (UIM) provision of their automobile liability insurance policy.
To recover under the UIM provision of their policy, appellants were required to prove that:
(1) they were legally entitled to recover in tort from the underinsured driver, because they had sustained;
(2) bodily injury that was;
(3) caused by an accident. Transamerica, 173 Ariz. 112, 840 P.2d 288
Division One of this court first assumed, without deciding, that appellants could have recovered against the negligent driver. Id. at 114, 840 P.2d at 290.
The court concluded, however, that appellants had not sustained a "bodily injury" for purposes of UIM coverage under their policy. Id. at 115, 840 P.2d at 291.
Therefore, the court affirmed a summary judgment in favor of Transamerica.
In so ruling, the court noted "the term 'bodily injury' . . . is not ambiguous on its face" and stated, "in insurance law, the term 'bodily injury' is narrower and more restrictive than 'personal injury.'" Id.
The court then defined "bodily injury" as "encompassing only physical injuries, impairment of physical condition, sickness, disease, or substantial pain." Id.
From that premise, the court concluded appellants' mere exposure to HIV-infected blood was not a compensable bodily injury within the meaning of Transamerica's policy. Id.