Posted on Oct 18, 2012
Attached is the link to the Pennsylvania Superior Court opinion issued today, October 18, 2012, in Rother v. Erie Ins. Exch, --- A.3d --- (Pa. Super. 2012) where the Superior Court panel upholds the applicability of the "regular use" exclusion in an underinsured motorist case involving an injured victim and a drunk driver. The injured victim recovered the underinsured motorist benefits (UIM) from the third party and was seeking UIM coverage from the vehicle he was operating at the time of the accident. The vehicle being operated by Rother was his father's and, even though he was not a resident relative of his father's, the exclusion was asserted.
As stated by the opinion, under the facts of the case, "it is undisputed that Patrick was driving his father’s 1990 Nissan, a vehicle not owned by Mother and not insured for UM or UIM coverage under her Erie policy, and that Patrick was a resident of Mother’s household at the time of the accident. His father permitted him to use his car to commute to work and for emergencies. Patrick started a new job just two weeks before the accident and had worked a total of seven days. He used his father’s vehicle for transportation to and from work on each of those days. On five of those days, he retrieved the car at his father’s home in the morning and returned it after work. On two occasions he drove the Nissan to the home he shared with his mother. On one of the latter occasions, he received a call late in the evening from a friend who required a ride, and it was while Patrick was proceeding to retrieve his friend that the accident occurred. Patrick viewed this as an emergency. The only issue is whether, on the undisputed facts herein, Patrick regularly used the 1990 vehicle."
The opinion by Judge Bowes finds that the fact Rother had only used the vehicle for two weeks before the accident does not mean it was a temporary use. The court holds that, on the facts of the case, the regular use exclusion applies as a matter of law.
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