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Sefcik v Home-Owners Ins Co (COA - UNP 1/28/2021; RB #4214)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 351137; Unpublished
Judges Shapiro, Sawyer and Beckering; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion

One-Year Notice Rule Limitation [§3145(1)]

Not Applicable

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s grant to Home-Owners on the issue of whether plaintiff properly supplied notice to Home-Owners within one year of the accident. In doing so, the Court held that the loss notice form submitted by the named insured and the police report constituted proper notice, and that the nature of injury requirement was satisfied by ordinary language such as “headache,” as opposed to a specific medial diagnosis.

This case arose from an automobile accident in which plaintiff was injured while a passenger in a vehicle driven by her boyfriend, owned by his parents (the Leismans), and insured by Home-Owners. According to a police report, following the accident, plaintiff was transported to Munson Medical Center. The following day, the Leismans’ insurance agent submitted an automobile loss notice form to Home-Owners, which “indicated that plaintiff was treated and released from the hospital and had complained of a headache.” The issue in this case centered on whether proper notice was supplied to Home-Owners within one year of the accident. Home-Owners moved for summary disposition based on its argument that the notice requirement was not satisfied. The trial court granted Home-Owners motion and plaintiff appealed.

The Michigan Court of Appeals noted its belief that this case was controlled by the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in Perkovic v. Zurich American Ins Co, 500 Mich 44; 893 NW2D 322 (2017), in which the Court observed that “under MCL 500.3145(1), a claim for PIP benefits must be filed within one year after the accident causing injury unless either of two exceptions applies: (1) the insurer was properly notified of the injury, or (2) the insurer had previously paid PIP benefits for the same injury.” In this case, the Michigan Court of Appeals considered the first exception. In doing so, the Court noted that the plain language of MCL 500.3145(1) listed what information the written notice must include, which read “[t]he notice shall give the name and address of the claimant and indicated in ordinary language the name of the person injured and the time, place, and nature of his injury.” Further, MCL 500.3145(1) provided that notice may be given “by a person claiming to be entitled to benefits therefor, or by someone in his behalf.” Applying these principles to the case at hand, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the trial court had placed too much emphasis on who supplied the notice, when the relevant inquiry was whether the documents that Home-Owners had received . . . supplied the required notice.” Here, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court’s conclusion that the nature of the injury portion of the notice requirement was not met. The Court held that while the information supplied to Home-Owners was minimal, the statute “does not require a claimant to provide a precise medical diagnosis, as this would not constitute ‘ordinary language.’” Thus, the Court found that the description of the nature of plaintiff’s injuries – headaches – was acceptable.

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