Guns and Car Accidents in South Carolina: How the Groves Case Changed Everything
Firing a weapon during an auto collision seemed to have been settled territory in South Carolina: if you were injured by a gun shot and the adverse party was using his or vehicle while firing the weapon, it was covered by insurance in South Carolina. That is, until Progressive Direct Insurance, Co. v. Groves, 431 S.C. 203 (S.C. Ct. App. 202o) Progressive Direct Ins. Co. v. Groves, 431 S.C. 203 | Casetext Search + Citator was decided. In that case, Lynn Harrison was driving her car minding her own business, when a strange gentleman began blowing her kisses alongside her vehicle. As she stopped for a red light, Jimi Carl Redman, Jr. pulled beside her vehicle in his, took out his shotgun and shot Ms. Harrison in the neck, killing her, before driving away and being apprehended a few blocks away.
The Court in Groves decided that even though Redman was using his vehicle to shoot Harrison, the shooting itself was an act of intervening negligence. Any injuries rising therefrom would not be covered by insurance. So, even though Harrison was shot and killed by Redman in her car by Redman driving alongside her, she was not able to recover for those injuries from his insurance carrier.
This case confounds as to both a damages and coverage determination. A motor vehicle is often used as a dangerous instrumentality in consort with the firing of a gun at another vehicle. Based on Groves, if a Defendant uses his or her vehicle as a battering ram, while simultaneously firing a weapon, only the injuries sustained from the vehicle itself would be covered by insurance, even though the intent to injure was made with both the vehicle and the firearm at the exact same time. As a matter of public policy, why should we cover one but not the other? Particularly when the only way the injuries could have arisen is by and through the use of the automobile. I remain hopeful that we get some distinction from the Court in the future as it relates to coverage for these types of gunshot cases to allow for coverage when the car itself is used as a dangerous instrument as well. But, for now, it appears that all gunshot injuries that arise from automobile collisions are uncovered by insurance.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, call a Goose Creek Car Accident Lawyer at Miller Conway today 843-906-6212.