Allstate Ins. Co. v. Graham – Case Brief Summary (New Mexico)

In Allstate Ins. Co. v. Graham, 106 N.M. 779, 780, 750 P.2d 1105, 1106 (1988), the plaintiff drove her father's insured vehicle to help a friend with a flat tire on the friend's vehicle. Id. at 779, 750 P.2d at 1105.

The plaintiff parked her father's insured vehicle approximately three feet in front of her friend's car, removed a spare tire from the trunk of the insured vehicle, and took the tire back to her friend's car. Id. The plaintiff proceeded to remove the lugs of the left rear wheel of her friend's car. Id. While she was in the process of changing the tire, an uninsured motorist ran off the side of the road and struck the friend's car, resulting in injury to the plaintiff. Id.

In Graham, the Supreme Court reasoned that the purpose behind the use of the insured vehicle was to deliver the friend's repaired spare tire. 106 N.M. at 780, 750 P.2d 1106.

The Court explained that such purpose was accomplished when the plaintiff arrived with the spare tire and parked the insured vehicle. Id. Although the plaintiff was not located a long distance from the insured vehicle at the time of the accident, the Court noted that "fixing the flat tire on the friend's car was in no way related to the occupancy or use of the insured vehicle." Id.

The Court stated that the plaintiff "was simply not engaged in a transaction oriented to the use of the insured vehicle at the time of the accident." Id. Accordingly, the Court held that the plaintiff was not "occupying" the insured automobile at the time of accident for purposes of the uninsured motorist provision. Id.