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Fryman v State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company; (COA-UNP, 8/27/2002, RB #2328)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #227423; Unpublished
Judges Whitbeck, Bandstra and Talbot; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable, Link to Opinion courthouse graphic


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

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not applicable


CASE SUMMARY:
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals interpreted the priority provisions of section 3114(5) of the No-Fault Act and found that a motorcyclist was entitled to claim personal protection insurance benefits from the insurer of a van which the motorcyclist was attempting to pass when a slow moving farm tractor ahead of the van pulled out in front of the motorcyclist. The Court of Appeals held that the van was “involved in the accident” even though there was no physical contact with the van, nor was there necessarily any evidence of fault on the part of the van operator.

In this case, Fryman was driving a motorcycle when she came upon a slow moving van insured by State Farm. Fryman, not realizing that the van was moving slowly because of a tractor in front of it, attempted to pass on the left, and as she was in the process of making her pass, observed the tractor coming into her lane. She swerved, but was unable to avoid a collision with the tractor.

Under the provisions of section 3114(5), the person suffering accidental bodily injury from a motor vehicle accident which “shows evidence of the involvement of a motor vehicle” while operating a motorcycle, claims personal injury protection benefits from the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle involved in the accident. The key question was whether the van was involved in the accident.

In this case, the Court of Appeals relied upon the Supreme Court’s holding in Turner v Auto Club Insurance Association, 448 Mich 22; 528 NW2d 681 (1995), in which that court held that for a vehicle to be “involved in the accident,” the vehicle “must actively, as opposed to passively, contribute to the accident.” The Supreme Court held that there must be an “active link” between injury and the use of the motor vehicle as a motor vehicle for the vehicle to be deemed involved in the accident. Physical contact is not required to establish that the vehicle was involved in the accident, nor is fault a relevant consideration in that determination.

In this case, the court held that the van’s position in the road misled Fryman into thinking it was safe to pass. On these facts, the court determined that the van was indeed involved in the accident, and that PIP benefits were to be provided by the insurance company for the van.


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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