State Farm loses priority dispute with Allstate over status of in-home "employee."
Joseph Mundt was so severely injured in 1995 that he required a specialized vehicle and constant attendant care. In 2008, his attendant was driving him home from a religious retreat in Florida when they were involved in another collision. The van they were in was titled to Joseph's father and insured with Allstate. State Farm carried no fault insurance on the driver-attendant. The two insurers disagreed over which of them was obligated to pay the driver-attendant's No Fault PIP benefits.
State Farm argued that the driver-attendant was an employee of Joseph's family, making their insurance primary. Allstate argued that the driver-attendant wasn't really an employee and that State Farm owed him PIP benefits as his personal insurer. Because the No Fault Act does not define the term "employee," which is an exception to the normal personal coverage, the Court looked to the same "economic reality" test that is employed in other legal contexts. On that basis, it concluded that the driver-attendant was not an employee of Joseph's family, primarily citing the facts that they exercised only limited control and supervision over the attendant, did not withhold taxes from his pay, had no disciplinary procedures in place and offered no employee benefits.