What Is A “Motor Vehicle Accident” For Purposes Of P.I.P.

Personal Injury Protection or PIP is insurance that can be purchased with auto insurance .  It is unique in its coverage.

One Texas court has construed “motor vehicle accident” narrowly in the context of PIP coverage.  Specifically, it held that “motor vehicle accident” does  not include all accidents that occur in a motor vehicle.

In the 1996, Houston Court of Appeals [1st Dist.] opinion styled, Schulz v.  State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Schulz’s passenger ordered him out of the truck and fatally shot him.  The appeals court upheld summary judgment in favor of State Farm, which had denied coverage because PIP benefits provide for payment of damages as a result of “a motor vehicle accident.”  According to the court a motor vehicle accident does not include all accidents that occur in a motor vehicle.  Because there was no casual relationship between the vehicle and the victim’s death, there was no “motor vehicle accident.”  Therefore, Schulz was not entitled to recover PIP benefits simply because a covered vehicle may have been used in his demise.

In another 1996, Houston Court of Appeals [1st Dist.] opinion styled, Le v. Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Co., the court disallowed recovery of PIP benefits because the injury did not result from a “motor vehicle accident.”  Le, a passenger in a car, was shot by someone driving by in a different vehicle.  There was no collision, and the injury was a result of the shooting alone.  In deferring to the Texas Department of Insurance, the court again held that, despite the PIP statute;s use of the term “accident” as opposed to the policy’s use of “motor vehicle accident,” the “accident” for which PIP coverage is allowed is a “motor vehicle accident,” “not any accident which happens to occur in a motor vehicle.”

However, in the 2004, Texas Supreme Court opinion styled, Texas Farm  Bureau Mutual Insurance Co v. Sturrock, the court ruled that a man who injured his neck, should and upper back after his foot became entangled in the door of his stationary pick-up truck was involved in a “motor vehicle accident” for purposes of obtaining PIP benefit and was entitled to those benefits.