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The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that an auto insurer could not reduce its coverage for injuries that were suffered in a high-speed police chase notwithstanding “flight from law enforcement” and “felony” step-down provisions included in the policy. The case is Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins. Co. v. Walls, No. 28012, 2021 S.C. LEXIS 19 (Mar. 10, 2021).

A vehicle that was involved in a high-speed chase by law enforcement on July 11, 2008, was involved in an accident. The vehicle held 4 individuals, three passengers including Sharmin Walls, and a driver, Korey Mayfield. On the day of the accident the group left Walls’ home in Walls’ vehicle. A South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper initiated a traffic stop after observing that the vehicle was traveling 12 miles per hour over the speed limit and swerving over the yellow line. Mayfield refused to pull over. During the chase, the trooper’s vehicle reached speeds of 109 mph. The passengers reportedly begged the driver to stop the car, but he refused. The trooper eventually received orders to terminate the pursuit, which he did. Despite this, Mayfield continued speeding and lost control of the vehicle, causing the death of one passenger and injuries to the other three vehicle occupants.

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