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Frierson v West American Insurance Company and Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and Assigned Claims Facility; (COA-PUB, 5/4/2004, RB #2457)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 244664; Published    
Judges Wilder, Hoekstra, and Kelly; Unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 261 Mich. App. 732, Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING: 
General Rule of Priority [3114(1)] 
Exception for Motorcycle Injuries [3114(5)]

TOPICAL INDEXING: 
Not applicable 


CASE SUMMARY: 
In this unanimous published per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held that in a motorcycle accident where a no-fault insurer who would otherwise have priority responsibility under §3114(5) cannot be identified, the general priority rule applies and the injured party must look to his or her own insurer for personal protection insurance benefits.

While a passenger on a motorcycle, plaintiff sustained injury when a motor vehicle crossed the centerline into the path of the motorcycle, and the driver of the motorcycle swerved to avoid the collision. The police were unable to locate the motor vehicle. The issue was whether West American, plaintiff’s own motor vehicle insurer, or Farm Bureau, to whom the claim was assigned by the Michigan Assigned Claims Facility, was responsible for payment of plaintiff’s PIP benefits.

Plaintiff’s own auto insurer argued that even though the motor vehicle could not be identified, the provisions of §3114(5) alone determined liability for the PIP benefits, and since the insurer could not be identified for the unknown vehicle, plaintiff should obtain benefits through the Assigned Claims Facility under §3172.

In upholding the trial court determination that plaintiff’s own motor vehicle insurer was responsible for the PIP benefits, the court relied on the Supreme Court decision in Parks v DAIIE, 426 Mich 191 (1986), which stated that the general rule is that one looks to a person’s own insurer for no-fault benefits unless one of the statutory exceptions under §3114 applies. The Court of Appeals held that in Parks, the Supreme Court determined the legislative purpose of the No-Fault Act to be that when an insurer who would otherwise be liable under one of the exceptions to §3114(1) cannot be identified, the general rule applies, and the injured party looks to his or her own insurer for personal protection insurance benefits.


Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit SinasDramis.com.

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