What Are the Purposes of the No-Fault Statute and Vicarious Liability Statute ?

In Walton v. Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co. (88 NY2d 211, supra) and Argentina v. Emery World Wide Delivery Corp. (93 NY2d 554, supra) the Court of Appeals explained that the different purposes of the no-fault statute and the vicarious liability statute required different results in interpretation. The no-fault statute was designed to provide an expedient method of recompense provided that the use or operation of the vehicle was a proximate cause of the accident whereas the vicarious liability statute did not provide for expedient redress, was premised on the fault of the operator and was designed to ensure recourse to the financially responsible owner of the vehicle. While the use or operation of the motor vehicle must be a proximate cause of the accident, that is what occurred at bar. The Hilliards were proceeding on a public roadway when a tree struck their vehicle. The purpose of first-party benefits under no fault is premised on the happening of the automobile accident regardless of fault. It is of no consequence whether the vehicle struck the tree or the tree struck the vehicle. The underlying purpose of the no-fault statute ensures that every automobile accident victim will be compensated for substantially all of his economic loss promptly and without regard to fault. (Matter of Granger v. Urda, 44 NY2d 91, 98 [1978]; 70A NY Jur 2d, Insurance, 1774.) The respondents are automobile accident victims and are entitled to no-fault benefits provided by petitioner Empire Mutual Company for it was the use and operation of their motor vehicle on the day of the accident that was a proximate cause of their injuries, necessitating hospital and medical treatment and expenses.