Trinh v. Allstate Ins. Co

In Trinh v. Allstate Ins. Co., 109 Wn. App. 927, 37 P.3d 1259, 1260 (Wash. Ct. App.), review denied, 147 Wn.2d 1003, 53 P.3d 1007 (2002), an insured witnessed the death of her best friend when he was hit by an uninsured drunk driver while helping the insured change her flat tire. The insured was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and sought coverage under the uninsured motorist provisions of her automobile insurance policy. Id. The insurer claimed post-traumatic stress disorder was not a bodily injury under the insured's uninsured coverage. Id. In Trinh, 37 P.3d at 1262, 1264, the insured alleged the post-traumatic stress disorder was accompanied by physical manifestations, which included weight loss, hair loss, fragile fingernails, loss of sleep, headaches, stomach pains, and muscle aches. The court said: While other jurisdictions are divided on this issue, many courts have held that allegations of physically-manifested emotional distress fall within "bodily injury" coverage in the insurance context. A law review article observes that "even courts that have concluded that nonphysical harm does not constitute bodily injury have held otherwise when the emotional distress produces discernible physical symptoms." And, many jurisdictions that deny "bodily injury" coverage for purely emotional injuries have indicated that there would be coverage if an emotional injury were accompanied by physical manifestations. 37 P.3d at 1262-63. The Washington Court of Appeals relied on policy language that defined "bodily injury" to mean "sickness" or "disease" and on persuasive precedent that construed emotional injuries accompanied by physical manifestations to mean bodily injury. 37 P.3d at 1264. The court concluded "bodily injury" includes emotional injuries that are accompanied by physical manifestations, and the insured had raised a genuine issue of material fact about whether she was a victim of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder with physical manifestations. Id.