Court Decision: Maryland PIP Coverage

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled this year in Nasseri v. GEICO that the driver of a taxicab that did not have PIP coverage who was injured in an auto accident had PIP coverage under the taxi cab driver’s own personal motor vehicle policy for his injuries.

In this case, Plaintiff’s taxicab collided with another car in Montgomery County. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff maintained a separate policy of auto insurance with GEICO for his personal car. The policy provided for PIP coverage in the event of personal injury resulting from an auto accident.

Plaintiff claim for PIP benefits to was denied. The District Court found in favor of GEICO and the Montgomery County Circuit Court hearing the case de novo, affirmed the judgment.

Plaintiff attorney, who should be commended for putting this much effort into such a small case, appealed, arguing that the PIP policy exclusion was not permitted by Section 19-505 of the Insurance Article of the Maryland Code and thus was invalid and unenforceable.

Plaintiff also argued that Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident not because he was in a taxi but because the other vehicle was not a taxi cab.

The Maryland Court of Appeals, in an unanimous opinion written by Judge Eldridge, agreed and reversed the lower court’s opinion, specifically rejecting the argument that Plaintiff was not entitled to coverage because the Insurance Article excludes a “taxicab” from the definition of “motor vehicle.”

In Maryland, the owners of taxicabs are not required to maintain the minimum PIP coverage on cabs. Taxicabs are indirectly excluded under Section 19-505 because taxicabs are not considered “motor vehicles” under our statutory scheme for PIP, as defined in Section 19-501(B)(2). The same holds true for buses.

While this case will not have a big impact on personal injury law in Maryland, I am happy our high court remains committed to interpreting the insurance code liberally to provide victims with at least the minimum coverage requirements.

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