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Arizona Law: Arizona Courts Rule on UIM/UM law and Rules of Evidence Regarding Expert Testimony

Posted by Matt Schmidt | Jun 06, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Arizona courts ruled on two cases this week that have an impact on Arizona  tort law.

First, in State v. Salazar-Mercado, 687 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 9 (May 29, 2014) (J. Timmer), the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Rule 702 of the Arizona Rules of Evidence allows expert testimony that will educate the jury on general principles of the area of expertise, and that the witness does not have to consider the particular facts of the case in testifying about those general principles. This is known as a "cold expert." The court reasoned that an expert could educate a jury with her general knowledge of the relevant area of expertise and the jury could then apply the facts of the case to the expert's cold testimony.

In Beaver v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 687 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 18 (App. Div. I, May 20, 2014) (J. Norris), the Arizona court of appeals ruled that an insurance company can exclude a family member from the definition of "insured" in a Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist policy  if that family member also owns a vehicle. Though most  UM/UIM policies will cover  anyone riding in the insured vehicle, the owner of the vehicle and the owner's family members (it usually covers them if they are riding in the insured vehicle, a different vehicle or even injured by a vehicle  as a pedestrian), the policy in this case specifically excluded family members who owned other vehicles. The court ruled that his exclusion was valid.

The Beaver decision demonstrates the importance of knowing your policy and what it says. If your policy is like the one in this case and excludes family members who also own vehicles, you might want to consider 1). Specifically adding those family members who also own vehicles as "insureds" under your auto policy and/or 2) Making sure thsoe family members who also own vehicles have UM/UIM insurance on their vehicle.

For more on these case decisions, feel free to check out our Law Updates.

About the Author

Matt Schmidt

Matt graduated from the James E Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in passing the Arizona bar exam in 2010. Matt's primary interest in law focuses on general personal injury and insurance bad faith.

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