No. 1816 Philadelphia 1981, No. 1863 Philadelphia 1981, No. 2102 Philadelphia 1981, Appeal from the Order of July 16, 1981 and Judgment Entered August 5, 1981, Court of Common Pleas, Bucks County, Civil Division at No. 80-5932-13-2.
John J. Hart, Sellersville, for appellant.
Miriam M. Reimel, Bristol, for appellees.
Cercone, P.j., and Johnson and Montemuro, JJ.
[ 317 Pa. Super. Page 190]
This is a consolidated appeal*fn1 from a judgment awarding no-fault benefits under the Pennsylvania No-fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act.*fn2 The injuries giving rise to the claim occurred on August 21, 1979 when a dune buggy in which the claimant was a passenger rolled over while being operated on a privately-owned field. Since we hold that the dune buggy here involved was not a "motor vehicle" as defined by the No-fault Act, we reverse the order and judgment of the trial court.
[ 317 Pa. Super. Page 191]
The sole question on this appeal is whether a dune buggy fits within the definition of a "motor vehicle" as contained in the No-fault Act. Although any victim of an accident resulting in injury is entitled to receive basic loss benefits in accordance with the Act, 40 P.S. § 1009.201, a "victim" is defined by the Act as "an individual who suffers injury arising out of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle" 40 P.S. § 1009.103. This latter section of the Act further defines the term "motor vehicle" as meaning "a vehicle of a kind required to be registered under the Act of April 29, 1959 (P.L. 58, No. 32), known as The Vehicle Code."*fn3 We therefore must look to the Vehicle Code, and any applicable case law, to determine whether the dune buggy in which the claimant was riding at the time of her injury is a "motor vehicle" for purposes of recovery under the No-fault Act.
In Siefert v. Nationwide Insurance, 289 Pa. Super. 160, 432 A.2d 1101 (1981) our court was called upon to consider whether a trail bike, which had neither headlights, taillights, nor a horn was a vehicle of a kind required to be registered under the Vehicle Code. There, we reviewed the statutory mandate that registration of a vehicle shall be refused when the vehicle is not constructed or equipped as required by the Vehicle Code. After noting that every vehicle operated on a highway is required to be equipped with a head lamp system, a rear lighting system and a horn or other audible warning device, we concluded that trail bikes necessarily cannot be registered because they lack headlights, taillights and horns. 289 Pa. Super. at 163, 432 A.2d at 1102. From that finding, we concluded that a trail bike is not "a vehicle of a kind required to be registered"
[ 317 Pa. Super. Page 192]
and thus the trail bike in Siefert was not a "motor vehicle" as defined by the No-fault Act. Id.
From the record in the appeal before us, we find that the dune buggy was not equipped with a rear lighting system, turn signals and hazard warning lights, a muffler, and rear wheel shields,*fn4 all of which are required for operation on a Commonwealth highway.*fn5 The lack of this equipment, alone, would permit us to conclude that the dune buggy is not "a vehicle of a kind required to be registered" were we to apply the rationale of our court in the Siefert case.
We feel that further analysis is appropriate on this appeal. We note that the dune buggy had never been insured in this Commonwealth*fn6 nor had it ever been inspected or licensed in Pennsylvania or any other state.*fn7 It had been assembled in January 1979, using a chassis and roll cage purchased from Fibertech, a California supplier, and miscellaneous other parts acquired by the owner either from junkyards or old cars. After assembly, the dune buggy was transported ...