Keystone Mut. Cas. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. Hinds

Decision Date17 June 1942
Docket NumberNo. 35.,35.
Citation26 A.2d 761
PartiesKEYSTONE MUT. CASUALTY CO. OF PITTSBURGH, PA. v. HINDS, for His Own Use and for Use of Insurance Co. of North America.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Appeal from Superior Court of Baltimore City; Samuel K. Dennis, Judge.

Action on a motor vehicle liability insurance policy by John N. Hinds, for his own use and the use of the Insurance Company of North America, against the Keystone Mutual Casualty Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appeals.

Affirmed.

Before BOND, C. J., and SLOAN, DELAPLAINE, FORSYTHE, and MARBURY, JJ.

Charles T. LeViness, of Baltimore, for appellant.

Paul Berman, of Baltimore (Frank F. J. Daily, Eugene A. Alexander, III, and G. Dudley Iverson, IV, all of Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.

DELAPLAINE, Judge.

This case calls for a construction of that section of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law of Maryland which requires liability insurance for commercial motor vehicles. Acts of 1933, ch. 591; Acts of 1935, ch. 379; Acts of 1939, ch. 236; Code, art. 56, sec. 182.

In 1941 John N. Hinds recovered a judgment for the sum of $5,000 in the Superior Court of Baltimore City against Henry Waters, a Negro laborer and trucker, now deceased, for personal injuries and damages sustained on the night of June 24, 1939, when his automobile was struck by a Chevrolet truck negligently operated by the owner's son, John E. Waters, on Eastern Avenue Road near Bengies in this State. Hinds thereupon entered suit against Keystone Mutual Casualty Company, a corporation with home office in Pittsburgh, the insurer for the truck, and recovered judgment for $5,000. From that judgment the casualty company appeals.

The policy agreed to insure up to $5,000 for death or bodily injuries of one person and up to $10,000 for more than one person, and also for damage to property up to $5,000. The appellant based its defense on two of the exclusions in the policy: (1) that it did not cover the motor vehicle while driven by any person under the age of 21 years, and (2) that it did not cover the motor vehicle while rented to others or used to carry passengers for a consideration. It was shown at the trial that the truck was carrying about 20 members of the White Horse Social and Pleasure Club on a straw ride in Baltimore County. The driver, who was afterwards convicted of murder, was summoned from the Maryland Penitentiary and testified that he was 18 years old at the time of the collision.

The statute provides that no owner of a commercial motor vehicle shall operate it on the public highways, streets or roads within the State of Maryland without a permit from the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, who shall not grant such a permit until the owner provides good and sufficient security for the protection of the public. The owner may satisfy this requirement by showing, by means of affidavit and certified copy, that he has secured an approved bond as required by the statute, or an approved insurance policy insuring against any judgment that may be recovered against him for death or personal injury to any person or persons, other than passengers, arising out of the operation o; the motor vehicle in this State up to $5,000 for one person, and up to $10,000 for more than one person, and for damage to property, other than goods carried, up to $1,000. Code, art. 56, sec. 182(b).

The subject of insurance is of such general interest that the Legislature unquestionably has the power to control it within reasonable limits. After a statute has been enacted governing some part of the field of insurance, any persons who have entered into a contract within that field are presumed to have done so with full recognition of the obligations demanded by the statute. Lorando v. Gethro, 228 Mass. 181, 117 N.E. 185, 1 A.L.R. 1374, 1379. The first legislation in Maryland requiring liability insurance for motor vehicles was enacted in 1931. That Act applies to those persons (1) who have operated a car while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug, (2) who have caused an accident while violating a motor vehicle law, resulting in death, and (3) who have left the scene of an automobile accident without making identity known. Acts of 1931, ch. 498; Acts of 1937, ch. 30; Acts of 1939, ch. 446; Code, art. 56, secs. 164-181. The purpose of legislation of this nature is to assure the ability of motor vehicle owners, against whom judgments may be entered on account of negligent driving, to respond in damages to persons who may suffer as a result of such negligence, and consequently to help in reducing the appalling toll of human life and suffering resulting from the reckless operation of motor vehicles. Such statutes are remedial and are reasonable in purpose and effect, and should be liberally construed against the insurer to accomplish their purpose. It is, therefore, well established that when an insurance policy has been issued in pursuance of the requirement of a statute, which forbids the operation of a motor vehicle until good and sufficient security has been given, the Court should construe the statute and the policy together in the light of the legislative purpose. Brown v. Smart, 69 Md. 320, 14 A. 468, 17 A. 1101, affirmed 145 U.S. 454, 12 S.Ct. 958, 36 L.Ed. 773; American Fidelity & Casualty Co. v. Mahon, 170 Md. 573, 185 A. 330, 105 A.L.R. 1200; Hynding v. Home Accident Insurance Co., 214 Cal. 743, 7 P.2d 999, 85 A.L.R. 13. If...

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