Greenville Attorney Eric Philpot Wins State Supreme Court Case

Nearly ten years after his client was injured when hit by a truck, Greenville personal injury lawyer Eric Philpot of Philpot Law Firm, PA, and co-counsel have finally secured approval of a damages judgment from the Supreme Court of South Carolina. In an opinion filed in July, the state's high court overturned a Court of Appeals decision from 2010 by holding that a person does not have to remain in contact with an insured vehicle when faced with imminent danger in order to qualify for uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage.

Plaintiff Henry Kennedy was using a company truck when he stopped to speak with a customer along a rural highway back in October of 2002. As he leaned against the truck talking and preparing to leave, a truck that was turning into the parking lot was struck by another vehicle and came directly toward him. Heeding his survival instincts, he attempted to get away from his own vehicle but was pinned against it.

Due to his injuries, Kennedy sustained medical expenses and lost wages that exceeded the at-fault driver's liability insurance coverage, and as a farmer's employee he was not eligible for workers' compensation. The trial court found that his injuries were covered under the UIM policy of the truck he was using, but the South Carolina Court of Appeals reversed because it found that he was not occupying the truck at the time of the accident.

The Supreme Court disagreed, noting that Kennedy had been in physical contact with the truck until the other vehicle careened toward him and suddenly pinned him against the truck he had been driving. The case involved a close review of the South Carolina UIM statute and further clarifies for future claims the definition of "occupying" a vehicle for purposes of UIM coverage eligibility.

Philpot told South Carolina Lawyers Weekly that he was pleased with the decision, noting that "The wheels of justice grind ever so slowly, but ever so fine." This sentiment is all the more true given that Philpot fought for justice for his client for a decade, a testament to how diligently he works to defend his clients' interests. John Nichols and Blake Hewitt of Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado also represented Kennedy on appeal.