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Theodore v Livingston, et al; (COA-UNP, 01/24/13; RB #3316)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #306555; Unpublished
Judges Talbot, Jansen, and Meter; Unanimous; Per Curiam;
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt 


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

TOPICAL INDEXING:   
Not Applicable            


CASE SUMMARY:  
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam Opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that State Farm was the first insurer of priority in a motorcycle accident in which the motorist swerved to avoid impact with the motor vehicle insured by State Farm.

Theodore was injured when he lost control of his motorcycle while attempting to avoid a collision with a passenger car operated by Livingston. Theodore and Livingston gave conflicting accounts of the events that preceded the accident. It was undisputed that there was no contact between Theodore’s motorcycle and Livingston’s vehicle. State Farm, the insurer of Livingston’s vehicle, contended that the Livingston vehicle was not involved in the accident and, therefore, State Farm was not responsible for Theodore’s no-fault benefits.

Under §3114(5) of the No-Fault Act, a person suffering accidental bodily injury arising from a motor vehicle accident which shows evidence of the involvement of a motor vehicle while the person is operating or a passenger on a motorcycle claims personal protection insurance benefits in a certain order of priority establishing that the insurer of the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle involved in the accident was first in priority.

The trial court determined that under either Theodore or Livingston’s version of how the accident occurred, the Livingston vehicle was involved in the accident and, therefore, State Farm was the first insurer of priority.

On appeal, affirming the trial court’s determination, the Court of Appeals held that the terms “involvement” and “involved in the accident,” are not defined in the Act. Under Turner v ACIA, 448 Mich 22 (1995), the Michigan Supreme Court held that the phrase “involved in the accident” requires that the motor vehicle must “actively” as opposed to “passively” contribute to the accident.

In this case, Theodore contended that Livingston moved into the eastbound lane into his path causing him to brake and lose control. Livingston contended that she stopped for a pickup truck that was blocking her lane and she remained in that lane. She acknowledged in her testimony that she had to make a “quick stop.” The court stated that under Livingston’s version of the events, if accepted as true, her quick deceleration in the lane of travel that Theodore was traveling in caused Theodore’s evasive actions which led to the accident.

Based upon either version of how the accident occurred, the Court of Appeals held that Livingston’s motor vehicle had an active contribution to the accident and, accordingly, there was evidence of the involvement of her motor vehicle in the accident requiring State Farm to provide the PIP no-fault 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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