How to Determine ''Use of Vehicle'' In An Insurance Claim ?
For liability to arise out of the use of a vehicle, a causal connection or relation must exist between the accident or injury and the use of the motor vehicle. Mid-Century Ins. Co. of Tex. v. Lindsey, 997 S.W.2d 153, 156 (Tex. 1999).
The "use" must be use of the vehicle as a vehicle, and not simply as an article of property. Id.
A person's intent and conduct are examined together to determine whether he is using a vehicle as a vehicle. Id.
The Texas Supreme Court recently addressed the issue of what is meant by "use" of a covered vehicle in.
In Mid-Century Ins. Co. v. Lindsey, 997 S.W.2d 153 (Tex. 1999), the question was whether a boy's climbing in the back window of a pickup truck causing a gun in the gun rack to discharge was "use" of the vehicle as contemplated by the insurance policy. Mid-Century Ins. Co., 997 S.W.2d at 154, 156-48.
In finding that the accident did result from the use of the vehicle, the Supreme Court used the following factors to aid in determining whether an injury arises out of the use of a motor vehicle for purposes of auto liability insurance coverage:
For an injury to fall within the "use" coverage of an automobile policy:
(1) the accident must have arisen out of the inherent nature of the automobile, as such,
(2) the accident must have arisen within the territorial limits of an automobile, and the actual use must not have terminated, and
(3) the automobile must not merely contribute to cause the condition which produces the injury, but must itself produce the injury.Mid-Century Ins. Co. of Texas, 997 S.W.2d at 157 (citing COUCH ON INSURANCE and APPLEMAN'S INSURANCE LAW AND PRACTICE).
The court expressly refused to adopt these factors as an absolute test, but found them helpful in focusing the analysis in these types of cases. Id.
The court pointed out that the fundamental issue is always "what coverage is intended to be provided by insurers and acquired and shared by premium-payers." Id. at 158.