Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; (Hon. Harold L. Cushenberry, Jr., Trial Judge)
Before Ferren and Steadman, Associate Judges, and Pryor, Senior Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ferren
FERREN, Associate Judge: Appellant Chauntrice Price was an automobile passenger injured in an accident. Because she failed to report the accident to the police (or other specified official) within twenty-four hours, as her driver's insurance policy required, the trial court granted summary judgment for appellee, Government Employees Insurance Company ("GEICO"). Appellant seeks reversal, arguing that the so-called police notification provision is too ambiguous to apply to the circumstances of this case and, in any event, as applied here, violates public policy inherent in the uninsured motorist statute, D.C. Code § 35-2106 (f) (1993). We agree with appellant that this notification provision is too ambiguous to be enforced in these circumstances. Accordingly, we reverse.
On July 25, 1991, appellant was riding to work in the back seat of an automobile driven by Ms. Birdie McKay when another driver rear-ended McKay's vehicle. Both McKay and the driver of the other car pulled over to the side of the road and spoke for approximately five to ten minutes. Because there did not appear to be any damage to either automobile and no one seemed to be injured, McKay did not get a name or any other information from the other driver.
Although appellant did not feel any pain at the time of the accident, she felt a sharp pain in her back as she got out of the car a little while later when she arrived at work. She has subsequently incurred approximately $8,000 in medical bills, allegedly as a result of the accident. Appellant filed an uninsured motorist claim under McKay's insurance policy with GEICO. Neither appellant nor McKay ever contacted the police or any other public office regarding the accident.
GEICO moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, reasoning that because appellant did not report the accident to the police (or other specified official) within twenty-four hours, as required by McKay's insurance policy, she did not meet her contractual obligations and could not recover.
D.C. Code § 35-2106 (f)(1) defines uninsured motor vehicle:
For the purposes of this subsection, the term "uninsured motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle which:
(A) Is a motor vehicle which is not insured by a motor vehicle liability policy applicable to the accident;
(B) Is covered by a motor vehicle liability policy of insurance but the insured denies coverage for any reason or becomes the subject of insolvency proceedings in any jurisdiction; or
(C) Is a motor vehicle which causes bodily injury or property damage and whose owner or operator cannot be identified.
Under the GEICO policy. "Uninsured Motorists Coverage" protects the policy owner and his or her passengers "for injuries and property damage caused by uninsured and hit and ...