Court examines priority dispute involving commercial use of vehicle to transport passengers
In Potts v. Randall Solis, et al., and Travelers Indemnity Company, et al., the Court of Appeals was required to interpret the No Fault statute to decide who owed the injured woman PIP benefits after she was hurt in a car accident. At the time she was hurt, Potts was being transported from the New Century Auto Sales used car lot to her home, while her vehicle was being serviced. Under the No Fault Act, the insurer of the driver of a vehicle owes the primary duty to pay PIP benefits, unless the person is traveling in a vehicle that transports passengers for hire.
The involved insurers argued over whether Potts' personal auto insurance should cover Potts' medical expenses or whether the dealership-owner's coverage should apply. Starr Indemnity & Liability Company insured Potts' personal auto, while Travelers insured the used car in which Potts was driven home. The Court pointed out that the No Fault Act has been interpreted to dictate an "incidental use" standard in deciding whether a vehicle is being used in the business of transporting passengers. By that standard, since only 25% of the dealership's traffic is served by courtesy shuttle; no vehicle is actually dedicated to that use; and the driver's job responsibilities were not exclusively dedicated to passenger transportation; the transportation in this case was merely "incidental" to the used car dealer's business and not the vehicle's "primary purpose."