Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 196014; Unpublished
Judges Hood, McDonald, and Young; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals held that under the priority provision of §3114(5) relating to priority in motorcycle accidents, a truck that ran over an out of control motorcycle was "involved in the accident," regardless of why the motorcycle lost control.
The priority provision of §3114(5)(a) provides that an operator or a passenger of a motorcycle who is injured in a motor vehicle accident which shows evidence of the "involvement of a motor vehicle" looks first to the insurer of the motor vehicle involved in the accident, rather than to his own no-fault insurer.
In this case, plaintiff was traveling northbound on I-75 in Ohio, and while attempting to pass a semi-truck insured by Auto-Owners, lost control of his motorcycle, moved into the truck's lane, and was run over by the rear tires of the truck. It was unclear as to why plaintiff lost control, however, the truck did not influence the loss of control. The trial court, focusing on the reason why plaintiff lost control of the motorcycle, held that the truck was not involved in the accident within the meaning of §3114(5). In reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that the truck played an active role in the accident because it was undisputed that it ran over the plaintiff, resulting in the injuries. In so ruling, the court relied upon the Supreme Court case of Turner v Auto Club Insurance Association, 448 Mich 22 (1995) [Item No. 1757], which interpreted the same phrase "involved in the accident" in the context of §3125 of the no-fault act, which addresses priority in terms of property protection benefits. There, the court held that in order to be considered "involved in the accident" the motor vehicle, being operated or used as a motor vehicle, must "actively, as opposed to passively, contribute to the accident." Further, in Turner, supra, the Supreme Court held that physical contact is not required to establish that the vehicle was involved in the accident.
The Court of Appeals held that the truck in this case was not like a stationary object with which plaintiff might have collided, such as a tree, or a stopped or parked vehicle, because the truck was moving forward at the time it hit plaintiff. It was the forward motion of the truck which caused plaintiffs injuries.