APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE MARGARET STANTON MCBRIDE, JUDGE PRESIDING.
Released for Publication August 5, 1997.
The Honorable Justice Hoffman delivered the opinion of the court. Hourihane and South, JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hoffman
JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the opinion of the court:
The plaintiff, Ricarda Muller, filed a three-count complaint against her insurer, Firemen's Fund Insurance Company (Firemen's), alleging that Firemen's breached her automobile insurance contract (count I), that she was entitled to extra-contractual relief based on Firemen's vexatious delay in responding to her claim (count II), and that she was entitled to arbitration of her claim (count III). The trial court directed a verdict in favor of Firemen's on count II and subsequently ruled on the merits of counts I and III in Firemen's favor. The trial court denied Muller's post-trial motion and this appeal followed. We reverse and remand.
On March 19, 1986, Muller was involved in a multi-vehicle accident while traveling west on Palatine Road near Wolf Road in Prospect Heights. Thirteen of the vehicles involved were listed in the police report. Muller claimed to have been knocked unconscious and, therefore, was unable to identify which vehicle or vehicles struck her car. Muller filed a personal injury action against the 13 drivers identified in the police report. However, all of the defendants in that action were granted summary judgment or dismissed due to Muller's inability to identify the vehicle that struck her.
Muller also filed a claim for uninsured motorist benefits under her insurance policy with Firemen's. The uninsured motorist section of Muller's policy provides in pertinent part:
"Part C-Uninsured Motorists Coverage
We will pay damages which a covered person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury:
1. Sustained by a covered person; and
2. Caused by an accident.
The owner's or operator's liability for these damages must arise out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the uninsured motor vehicle.
'Covered person as used in this Part means:
1. You or any family member.
'Uninsured motor vehicle' means a land motor vehicle or trailer of any type:
3. Which is a hit and run vehicle whose operator or owner cannot be ...