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Farmers Insurance Exchange v Farm Bureau General Insurance Company of Michigan; (COA-PUB, 8/17/2006, RB #2779)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #259763; Published
Judges Whitbeck, Zahra, and Donofrio; Unanimous
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 272 Mich. App. 106, Link to Opinion courthouse graphic


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Exception for Motorcycle Injuries [3114(5)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not applicable


CASE SUMMARY:
In this unanimous published opinion by Judge Donofrio, the Court of Appeals held that even though a vehicle involved in an accident with a motorcycle is uninsured, if the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle has another motor vehicle that is properly insured under the No-Fault Act, under MCL 500.3114(5)(a), the no-fault insurer must provide the motorcyclist no-fault benefits.

The claimant in this case was injured while riding a motorcycle that was hit by an uninsured van. Although the van was uninsured, the van’s owner had insurance on another vehicle through defendant Farm Bureau Insurance Company. The Assigned Claims Facility assigned the motorcyclist’s claim to plaintiff, Farmers Insurance Exchange. Farmers, in turn, brought this declaratory judgment action, arguing Farm Bureau was first in priority under MCL 500.3114(5)(a). The trial court agreed and granted Farmers summary disposition. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that under §3114(5)(a), an insurer which insures an owner or registrant who owns the motor vehicle involved in an accident with a motorcycle is first in priority to pay no-fault benefits to the injured person. In so holding, the court determined that under the plain language of the statute, all that is required for an insurer to be first in priority is to insure the owner or registrant of the vehicle involved in the accident. In this regard, the court stated:

Pursuant to the plain language of the statute, all that is required for an insurer to be first in priority to pay no-fault benefits is to insure ‘the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle involved in the accident.’ In other words, the plain language of MCL 500.3114(5)(a) states that the insurer need not insure the vehicle in the accident, but must insure the owner or registrant. Here, because defendant insured Petiprin who owned the van involved in the accident, defendant is first in priority to provide benefits under MCL 500.3114(5)(a). Had the legislature intended MCL 500.3114(5)(a) only to require an insurer to provide no-fault benefits under these facts if the insurer actually insured the motor vehicle involved in the accident, it could have chosen the following language for MCL 500.3114(5)(a): ‘The insurer of the motor vehicle involved in the accident,’ deleting the first prepositional phrase, ‘of the owner or registrant.’ Clearly, the Legislature did not choose that language, and for us to adopt defendant’s position would be to render the phrase ‘of the owner or registrant’ in the statute nugatory.”


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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