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Ryser v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co.

2021 CO 11. No. 19SC530. Insurance—Workers’ Compensation—Uninsured and Underinsured—Exclusivity of Remedy—Co-Employee Immunity.

February 16, 2021

In this case, the Supreme Court examined the interplay between the uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) statute, CRS § 10-4-609, and the Workers’ Compensation Act of Colorado (WCA), CRS §§ 8-41-102 and -104. Specifically, the Court addressed whether an injured passenger riding in a vehicle negligently driven by one coworker and owned by another coworker, when all three were acting within the course and scope of their employment, may recover UM/UIM benefits under the vehicle owner’s insurance policy.

Although the parties disputed the meaning of the phrases “legally entitled to recover” and “legally entitled to collect” under CRS § 10-4-609, the Court did not resolve that dispute, assuming without deciding that plaintiff cannot prevail even if plaintiff’s definition is correct.

The Court concluded that the WCA’s exclusivity provisions bar an injured coworker from recovering UM/UIM benefits from a co-employee vehicle owner’s insurer for damages stemming from a work-related accident in which another co-employee negligently drove the owner’s vehicle and the injured party was an authorized passenger. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the division below, albeit on somewhat different grounds.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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