The Georgia Court of Appeals has held a plaintiff cannot bring a direct action against a liability insurer where the motor carrier at issue is a medical transportation carrier. Mornay v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. (6 April 2015).

This case involves a wrongful death action arising from a motor vehicle accident. The decedent was a wheelchair-bound woman who died while riding in a transportation van from her nursing home to a medical appointment. Her estate filed a direct action against the liability insurer of the transportation company.

Under the Georgia Motor Carrier Act, a plaintiff may bring a direct action against a motor carrier.  The court stated the intent of the “motor carrier laws is that the insurer is to stand in the shoes of the motor carrier and be liable in any instance of negligence where the motor carrier is liable.” However, there are exceptions to the definition of a motor carrier. Among the exceptions are vans used exclusively for non-emergency medical transport.

In this case, the court held the insurer was entitled to summary judgment, because there was no dispute over the fact that the van met the statutory exception. The court’s decision demonstrates the Georgia Court of Appeals’ willingness to insist on a claimant’s strict compliance with statutory criteria in order to bring a direct action against a motor carrier insurer.