In Blanco-Sanchez v. Personal Service Ins. Company, a New Jersey Appeals court ruled that unlicensed drivers are not entitled to personal injury protection (PIP) benefits for car crash injuries even if they have been given permission to drive a car by the owner.
Norma Blanco-Sanchez suffered injuries in a car crash while driving her mother’s car. Sanchez sought PIP benefits to cover her medical bills under her mother’s policy, which provided such coverage for up to $15,000 in covered medical expenses at the time of the crash. After the insurer denied the application, Sanchez filed suit. Personal Insurance immediately moved for summary judgment and the trial Court granted the motion, reasoning that “while the PIP portion of defendant’s policy did not contain a specific exclusion for unlicensed drivers, the argument is not whether it contains an exclusion…you can’t give permission to extend the coverage in a situation where they couldn’t have obtained coverage to begin with.”
Sanchez appealed and argued that the policy did not “expressly” exclude such coverage for situations such as this. However, Sanchez’s mother knew that she was an unlicensed driver at the time the accident occurred.
The appellate panel affirmed the trial Courts decision stating that Sanchez cannot recover PIP benefits as a matter of public policy because an owner cannot give permission to a driver who is known to be unlicensed. Thanks to Jon Avolio for his contribution to this post. Please email Brian Gibbons with any questions.