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State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co v Auto Club of Mich, et al; (COA-UNP, 03/21/13; RB #3327)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No.307492; Unpublished 
Judges Jansen, Fitzgerald, and K.F. Kelly; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt 


STATUTORY INDEXING:  
Exception for Motorcycle Injuries [§3114(5)]  
Equal Priority Situations [§3114(6)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:   
Not Applicable  


CASE SUMMARY:  
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam Opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals addressed issues of priority of coverage in a situation where a motorcyclist was injured when he was struck from behind by a motor vehicle operated by a person insured by plaintiff State Farm.  The issue in this case related to whether three other automobiles were involved in the accident within the meaning of MCL 500.3114(5) and (6), such that those other motor vehicle insurers would be obligated to reimburse State Farm for a portion of the PIP benefits State Farm paid to the injured motorcyclist.

The motorcyclist, Honyoust, was injured when his motorcycle was struck from behind by a vehicle insured by State Farm.  The force of this collision caused the motorcyclist to strike the vehicle in front of him, launching him off of his motorcycle.  The issue in the case concerned whether the other motor vehicles insured by the other defendant insurance companies were “involved” in the accident within the meaning of MCL 500.3114(5), which provides that a person suffering accidental bodily injury arising from a motor vehicle accident which “shows evidence of the involvement of a motor vehicle” while an operator or passenger of a motorcycle, shall claim personal protection insurance benefits from the insurers in the order of priority set forth in the statute, including the insurers of the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle involved in the accident.

In addressing the issue of involvement, the court stated the previously adopted rule in Michigan that if there is physical contact between the injured party and a vehicle, that vehicle is considered involved in the accident.  Further, however, where there is no physical contact between the injured party and the vehicle, it is still necessary to consider whether the vehicle “actively contributed to the accident.

In this case, the vehicle insured by Home-Owners Insurance was determined not to have been involved in the accident.  There was no question of fact that the motorcyclist did not come into contact with that vehicle, nor did that vehicle actively contribute to the accident.  The Home-Owners insured vehicle, a Honda Civic, had come to a complete stop for 10 to 30 seconds when it was struck from behind by a Jeep insured by ACIA.  Consequently, the court determined that the Home-Owners insured vehicle was not involved in the accident and not obligated to pay a pro rata share of the motorcyclist’s PIP benefits.

The court also concluded that there were questions of fact with regard to whether the Jeep was involved in the accident and whether its insurer, ACIA, was obligated to pay a pro rata share of the motorcyclist’s PIP benefits.  Therefore, the trial court grant of summary disposition in favor of ACIA was error.

The Court of Appeals also determined that a question of fact existed as to whether a Cobalt automobile insured by MIC General was involved in the accident and obligated to pay a pro rata share of the PIP benefits.  Accordingly, the trial court grant of summary disposition to MIC General was determined to be in error.

The matter was affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for proceedings consistent with the Court of Appeals Opinion.


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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