Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 117390; Published
Judges Reilly, Gillis, and Michael J. Kelly; Unanimous; Opinion by Judge Reilly
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 192 Mich App 691; Link to Opinion
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]
Exception for Unreasonably Parked Vehicles [§3106(1)(a)]
Exception for Vehicle Maintenance [§3106]
Disqualification for Uninsured Owners or Registrants of Involved Motor Vehicles or Motorcycles [§3113(b)]
In this unanimous published Opinion by Judge Reilly, the Court of Appeals reversed summary disposition granted in favor of the defendant and held that plaintiff was not precluded from recovery of no-fault benefits in a situation where he was pinned between his uninsured parked vehicle and another vehicle while plaintiff was putting oil in his parked car.
The court found that plaintiff was not precluded from recovery or benefits under the provisions of §3113(b), which precludes recovery of benefits where the injured person is the owner of an uninsured vehicle "involved" in the accident.
In this case, plaintiff stopped at an auto supply store to purchase oil after noticing that his oil light was on in his car. Plaintiff parked his car in the parking lot, in a space closest to the store. After purchasing the oil, plaintiff was in the process of adding his oil to his own vehicle. As he was adding oil to his uninsured vehicle, a van backed up from another space and pinned plaintiff between the bumper of the van and the front bumper of plaintiff’s car.
Since there was no insurance on plaintiff’s vehicle, and no other insurance in plaintiff’s household, plaintiff sought to recover no-fault benefits from the insurer of the van. The defendant contended that plaintiff was disqualified from receiving benefits under §3113(b) which provides that a plaintiff is not entitled to benefits if he is the owner or registrant of an uninsured vehicle that was "involved in the accident."
The trial court reasoned that plaintiff was "maintaining" his car and, therefore, the injury resulted from the use of the uninsured vehicle as a motor vehicle under §3105(1). In response to the contention that the plaintiff’s vehicle was parked at the time of the injury thereby bringing into play the provisions of §3106(1)(a) which states that accidental bodily injury does not arise out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of a parked vehicle, unless the vehicle is parked in such a way as to cause unreasonable risk of bodily injury, the trial court held that plaintiff’s vehicle was in fact parked in such a way as to create unreasonable risk of bodily injury.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the parked vehicle provisions of §3106 define when a parked vehicle is deemed to be in use as a motor vehicle. The only exception argued by Travelers was the provision regarding the parking of a vehicle in a way so as to cause unreasonable risk of bodily injury.
In reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff’s injuries were not the result of the maintenance or use of his vehicle as a motor vehicle, but rather, resulted from the use of the van insured by Travelers as a motor vehicle. Consequently, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred in finding that plaintiff’s parked vehicle was "involved in the accident" within the meaning of §3113(b).
Further, the Court of Appeals held that at the time of the accident, plaintiff’s vehicle was properly parked within a parking space in the parking lot of the auto parts store. Therefore, the trial court erred in determining that plaintiff was not entitled to no-fault benefits because his vehicle was parked in such a way as to cause an unreasonable risk that he would be injured.
The Court of Appeals relied upon the earlier decision in Heard v State Farm, 414 Mich 139 (1982) controlling. In Heard, the plaintiff was injured when he was struck by an automobile while he was pumping gasoline into his uninsured vehicle. The plaintiff in that case, as with the present case, was pinned between his uninsured vehicle and the vehicle which struck him. The Supreme Court concluded that at the time of the accident, the plaintiff’s vehicle was not in use as a motor vehicle, but was like any other stationary roadside object that can be involved in motor vehicle accidents. Based upon this reasoning, the Court of Appeals herein reversed the trial court decision and held that plaintiff was entitled to no-fault benefits from Travelers.