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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Mohamad Elchehimi filed suit to recover under the uninsured motorist provisions of his automobile insurance policy for injuries his children and he suffered after his car was struck by an axle and attached wheels which broke away from a truck tractor driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway. The trial court granted Nationwide Insurance Co.’s summary judgment motion. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The San Antonio Court of Appeals has concluded that the requisite contact did not occur in a case involving a collision between an insured’s vehicle and a component of a semitrailer which had detached from the trailer immediately before colliding with the insured’s vehicle. Smith v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 2003 WL 21391534 (Tex. App. San Antonio June 18, 2003, pet. denied) (mem. op.). This court believes that the San Antonio court did not give adequate weight to the distinction between cargo which has fallen from an unidentified vehicle and an integral part of an unidentified vehicle which strikes an insured’s vehicle in an unbroken chain of events. A review of decisions from other states which require “physical contact” as a prerequisite to uninsured motorist coverage reveals that a majority of these states which have addressed this issue have concluded that the requisite contact is established when an integral part of an unidentified vehicle collides with an insured’s vehicle in an unbroken chain of events. The court holds that when an integral part of an unidentified vehicle collides with an insured’s vehicle as a “result of an unbroken chain of events with a clearly definable beginning and ending, occurring in a continuous sequence,” then the requisite “actual physical contact” has occurred and coverage is required. A genuine issue of material fact remains on the question of whether an integral part of an unidentified vehicle collided with his car as a “result of an unbroken chain of events with a clearly definable beginning and ending, occurring in a continuous sequence.” OPINION:Reyna, J.; Gray, CJ, Vance and Reyna, JJ. DISSENT:Gray, CJ; “Is an”alligator’ a vehicle? Until today, no. But no longer am I confident of that answer. There was no question that the tread of a truck tire which has separated from the tire casing, commonly referred to as an”alligator,’ when appearing on our nation’s highways by the thousands, was not a”vehicle’ as defined for uninsured motorist coverage. There is no question that the tread on a tire is an important component part of the vehicle. So over the next 20 years we will be litigating the issue of what is a large enough component part or an important enough component part of a vehicle to be a”vehicle’ within the definition for uninsured motorist coverage.”

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