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Bourne v Farmers Insurance Exchange; (COA-PUB, 1/19/1994; RB #1695)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 144046; Published  
Judges Cavanagh, Marilyn Kelly, and M. D. Schwartz; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  203 Mich App 341; Link to Opinion alt   


STATUTORY INDEXING:  
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Arising Out of / Causation Requirement [§3105(1)]  
Entitlement to PIP Benefits: Motor Vehicle Involvement [§3105(1)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:  
Not Applicable    


CASE SUMMARY:   
In this unanimous per curiam published Opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court grant of summary disposition in favor of the insurance company, and held that plaintiff was entitled to pursue his claim for injuries sustained during the course of a "car jacking."  

Plaintiff was about to get into his parked car when he noticed two men seated in the rear of the car. The men forced plaintiff at gun point to drive to a location a mile away. They then ordered him to exit the car. As he was exiting the car, one of the men hit the plaintiff in the face and threw him to the ground. The men took plaintiffs car keys, his wallet and his car. Plaintiff claimed compensation for the injuries he received during the course of this carjacking. Although Farmers paid for the theft of the vehicle, it denied compensation for plaintiff’s injuries.  

The Court of Appeals held that the issue on appeal was whether plaintiffs physical injuries were compensable under §3105(1), which provides that an insurer is liable to pay personal protection insurance benefits for "accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle." The court noted that the recent Supreme Court decision in Marzoni v Auto Club Insurance Association, 441 Mich 522 (1992) held that the involvement of a vehicle in an injury must "be directly related to its character as a motor vehicle, and more than incidental, fortuitous or 'but for."'  

The Court of Appeals noted that the Supreme Court has denied compensation under the no-fault act in cases involving personal assault where the assault was not foreseeably identifiable with the use of a motor vehicle. See, Thornton v Allstate Insurance Company, 425 Mich 643 (1986).  

On the other hand, where the injury suffered is foreseeably identifiable with the use of an automobile, compensation has been allowed. See, Gajewskiv Auto-Owners Insurance Company, 414 Mich 968 (1982); Saunders v DAIIE, 123 Mich App 570 (1983); Mann v DAHE, 111 Mich App 637 (1981). The Court of Appeals in this case held that there is a direct causal relationship between the use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle, and injuries sustained during a so-called "carjacking." As was stated by the Court of Appeals:

"The physical assault only occurs because of the assailant's wish to take possession of the vehicle. Unfortunately, such incidents are nowadays within the ordinary risks of driving a motor vehicle."

Based upon its holding that a carjacking was within the ordinary risks of driving a motor vehicle, the grant of summary disposition in favor of Farmers was reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court.  


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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