Illinois Trucker Protected by Employer’s Insurance in Truck Crash Case

The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a decision by a Cook County trial judge. Krysztof Emiljanowicz, a truck driver, agreed to act as a contractor for SSTS, Inc. On May 12, 2004, Krysztof signed an agreement in which he agreed to transport freight for SSTS in his semitrailer. 

SSTS said that its policy required truck contractors to have their equipment inspected, to carry only SSTS freight while under contract with SSTS and to place decals on their vehicles showing that they were authorized to operate. 

Later that same day, Krysztof was on his way to pick up a friend; they planned to ride together in Krysztof’s truck to a mechanic for a check-up. Before starting the new job, and on the way to the mechanic, Krysztof crashed into a vehicle driven by Barbara Kawacki-Horowitz.

The police officer who came to the scene did not remember if Krysztof identified himself as a commercial truck carrier or if he had decals on his truck indicating that he was working for SSTS. Krysztof was covered by his own insurance — Progressive Auto Insurance — but that insurance did not apply when the insured individual was operating a vehicle on behalf of anyone else. 

SSTS had insurance with Occidental covering the vehicles in service for it, but only when the vehicle is an “auto,” in use exclusively for transporting freight for their services. 

Kawacki-Horowitz filed a lawsuit against Krysztof to recover damages for her injuries. Her husband also sued for loss of consortium.

Progressive defended the claim on behalf of Krysztof, but filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration of coverage under the Occidental policy. Progressive also sought reimbursement for the defense costs and the settlement of the Kawacki-Horowitz’s claims.

Occidental filed a counterclaim arguing that it would require providing no coverage.  Both parties filed motions for summary judgment.

The trial judge granted Progressive’s motion for summary judgment and denied Occidental’s.  On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court found that it was undisputed that at the time of the accident, Krysztof was in the process of taking his tractor to a mechanic to get his tractor examined and that this resulted in both Krysztof and a semitrailer being covered by Occidental’s insurance policy with SSTS. 

Occidental argued claiming that “going to pick up a friend” does not qualify as being “engaged in the business of transporting property on behalf of SSTS.”

Because it was a requirement of SSTS to have Krysztof get his truck examined by a mechanic, the court stated that the vehicle was considered under the exclusive possession, control and use of SSTS. 

Occidental maintained that since Krysztof was not transporting freight, there should not be coverage. 

The Illinois Appellate Court determined that Krysztof was operating his truck on behalf of SSTS and that Progressive’s contingent liability endorsement excluded coverage.  The appellate court also pointed out with disfavor that Occidental was not able to cite a case supporting several of its central contentions, including the issue of whether the transport or freight was necessary. 

Lastly, the court found that since Occidental filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, it accepted the contention that there were no genuine issues of material fact between the parties.  Therefore, there were no grounds to raise any factual controversies that would have defeated the summary judgment motion.

Progressive Premier Insurance Company of Illinois v. Krysztof Emiljanowicz, et al., 2013 IL App. (1st) 113664 (May 28, 2013).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling car accidents, truck accidents and Illinois nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Bensenville, Elmhurst, Rolling Meadows, Inverness, Gurnee, Lake Zurich, Zion, Chicago (Hyde Park), Richton Park, Flossmoor and Arlington Heights, Ill.

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