The appellant, Concetta Gallo, commenced an action in trespass and assumpsit against appellee, J.C. Penney Casualty Insurance Company, to recover No-Fault benefits to which she claims entitlement by reason of injuries sustained
The sole question before us is whether the trial court erred in deciding as a matter of law that a snowmobile is not a motor vehicle. In reviewing a trial court's order granting judgment on the pleadings, we are guided by the following standard:
Karns v. Tony Vitale Fireworks Corporation, 436 Pa. 181, 184, 259 A.2d 687, 688 (1969); Bata v. Central-Penn National Bank of Philadelphia, 423 Pa. 373, 224 A.2d 174 (1966). A judgment on the pleadings shall not be entered when there are unknown or disputed issues of fact. North Star Coal Company v. Waverly Oil Works, Co., 447 Pa. 241, 288 A.2d 768 (1972); Sun Oil Company v. Bellone, 292 Pa.Super. 341, 437 A.2d 415 (1981). In conducting this inquiry, the court should confine its consideration to the pleadings and relevant documents. DiAndrea v. Reliance Savings and Loan Association, 310 Pa.Super. 537, 456 A.2d 1066 (1983); Del Quadro v. City of Philadelphia, 293 Pa.Super. 173, 437 A.2d 1262 (1981); SN, Inc. v. Long, 208 Pa.Super. 38, 220 A.2d 357 (1966). No affidavits, depositions or briefs may be considered. Id. Finally, we note that the "granting of a motion for judgment on the pleadings
The question before us was put into issue in the pleadings. See Defendant's Answer and New Matter at p. 3, para. 17; Plaintiff's Reply to New Matter at p. 1, para. 17. On May 6, 1982, the appellee filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in which appellee contended, inter alia, that appellant had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted in that the insurance contract did not cover accidents involving snowmobiles. After briefs were filed by the parties and argument was held, the court granted the motion by order of July 6, 1982.
The insurance contract between the appellant and the appellee provides as follows:
Section 102 of the 1976 Vehicle Code defines the terms "motor vehicle" and "vehicle":
75 Pa.C.S.A. § 102. These definitions are somewhat intertwined in that the definition of "motor vehicle" requires that the instrument or device in question be a "vehicle". Construing these provisions in pari materia, and in conjunction with other provisions of the Vehicle Code which will be discussed infra we conclude that a snowmobile is a motor vehicle.
To qualify as a vehicle, a snowmobile is required to be (1) a device, (2) in, upon or by which persons or property may be transported upon a highway. The term "device" is not defined by the Vehicle Code; however, according to the common and approved usage of the word, 1 Pa.C.S.A.App. § 1903(a), we unhesitatingly conclude that a snowmobile is
The general rule is set forth at 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 7721(a), which states: "Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it is unlawful to operate a snowmobile on any street or highway which is not designated and posted as a snowmobile road by the governmental agency having jurisdiction." The exception is set forth at 75 Pa.C.S.A. 7722(a) which states:
This statute authorizes the use of motor vehicles on designated streets and highway. As such, snowmobiles qualify as "vehicles" under the Vehicle Code in that they are devices which may be legally transported, albeit under limited circumstances, upon highways in this Commonwealth. Moreover, a snowmobile is a "motor vehicle" because it is a (1) vehicle, (2) which is self-propelled, (3) does not receive power from overhead wires, and (4) does not operate exclusively on rails or tracks. Consequently, a snowmobile is both a "vehicle" and a "motor vehicle" as defined by 75 Pa.C.S.A. 102.
A snowmobile is also required to be registered under the Motor Vehicle Code. 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 7712.
The appellee argues that the form of the insurance policy issued to the appellant was one required to be used by the Insurance Department; that it had been submitted to, and approved by, the Insurance Department, and further that the policy provides it is "[i]n accordance with the Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act." Consequently, it is asserted that the No-Fault Act, and the Regulations promulgated thereunder, were intended to be incorporated into the policy. The reference to the No-Fault Act has been duly noted, supra at 3; however conspicuous by its absence in the policy is any reference, expressed or implied, to the Regulations promulgated under the No-Fault Act.
The Regulations are guidelines for the interpretation of the No-Fault Act. The definition found in the Regulations is not dispositive in the interpretation of a statutory phrase. Habecker v. Nationwide Insurance Company, 299 Pa.Super. 463, 470 n.6, 445 A.2d 1222, 1226 n.6 (1982). While the Regulations are often persuasive, we conclude
Alternatively, we would conclude that the Regulations, while affording a minimum standard for a No-Fault insurance policy, do not put a ceiling on specified amount or type of coverage. 31 Pa.Code § 66.101. "An insurance company is free, out of motives of altruism, generosity or naked commercial advantage, to provide broader coverage than the No-Fault Act, and if it does so, the policy language controls." Drake v. Donegal Mutual Insurance Company, 422 F.Supp. 272, 274 (W.D.Pa. 1976); 7 Blashfield Automobile Law and Practice, Section 2715, pp. 7-8 (3d ed. 1966). Our conclusion is, therefore, that a motor vehicle as defined by the No-Fault Act and by the insurance contract includes snowmobiles.
Our analysis is not complete without an examination of the prior decisions of this court refining the definition of motor vehicle. In Siefert v. Nationwide Insurance, supra, we held that a trail bike, which was not equipped with a head lamp, tail lamp or horn, was not a "motor vehicle" for the purposes of the No-Fault Act. In Siefert, the panel's analysis focused on the trail bike's lack of equipment which would have been necessary for street use; equipment which was necessary for the bike to be registered.
In Crawford v. Allstate Insurance Company, supra, we held that a pick-up truck, which was operating on railroad tracks by means of a special adapting device when it was involved in an accident, was a motor vehicle under the No-Fault Act. The truck in question was registered in Ohio, and had been used both prior to and subsequent to the accident on highways in this Commonwealth. This court dismissed the insurer's argument that the accident was not covered by insurance because it occurred on railroad tracks and not on a highway, stating: "[W]e are of the opinion that the proper test in applying the `maintenance and use' concept to individual fact situations is whether the injury is causally related to the use of a motor vehicle." Id., 305 Pa.Super. at 173, 451 A.2d at 477.
In Bills, Judge Johnson, in a characteristically well-reasoned opinion, went beyond the Siefert analysis and further refined the Crawford analysis by looking to the stated findings and purposes of the No-Fault Act.
Bills v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, id., 317 Pa.Super. at 194-95, 463 A.2d at 1151-52. We find Judge Johnson's observation especially relevant herein. Snowmobiles, while registered under the Vehicle Code, and potentially usable on highways in this Commonwealth, are not vehicles which are principally used on Commonwealth highways. Rather, they are more often operated on private lands and private roads. We do not believe that the legislature intended that coverage be provided for vehicles which are principally off-road vehicles when they are being operated other than on Commonwealth highways. With this in mind, we would hold that under the No-Fault Act snowmobiles are motor vehicles, but that coverage under the Act is provided only when the accident occurs on a public road, street or highway, which has been designated and posted as a snowmobile road by the government agency having jurisdiction, and when the vehicle is registered and has the equipment mandated by statute.
31 Pa.Code § 66.1-103C.(f) It is interesting to note that Section 66.1 has been amended to read: "`Motor Vehicle' A vehicle of a kind required to be registered under the Vehicle Code (75 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 101-8122). 31 Pa.C. § 66.1, 10 Pa.B. 3656 (September 13, 1980).