Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Via the Volokh Conspiracy, I learned of this Ohio case. The facts are summed up nicely by Bill Poser at the Language Log:
A couple were injured when their car struck a cow. The owner of the cow had no insurance, so they filed a claim with their own insurance company for coverage under its uninsured motorist provision. The company refused to pay, so they sued. The trial court ruled against them, and they appealed.

The point of contention was whether a cow is a motor vehicle. The court cites the American Heritage Dictionary's definition: "a self-propelled, wheeled conveyance that does not run on rails" The court correctly observes that:
a cow is self-propelled, does not run on rails, and could be used as a conveyance; however, there is no indication in the record that this particular cow had wheels. Therefore, it was not a motor vehicle...

He goes on to point out that the court may have been a tad misguided, as last I looked the most important defining feature of a motor vehicle, that which separates it from a sled or a go-cart, is that it has a motor. (insert eye roll)

I had to glance at our policy, since we now write in Ohio. Fortunately, we incorporate the term "motorized" into our definition of a motor vehicle. Otherwise, look out the next time an uninsured cow is wandering around with a tire around its neck.

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