Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 110223; Published
Judges Reilly, Cynar, and T.M. Burns; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 182 Mich App 419; Link to Opinion
Exception for Entering Into or Alighting From [§3106(1)(c)]
Exception for Employer Provided Vehicles [§3114(3)]
Exception for Occupants [§3114(4)]
Determination of Involved Vehicle [§3115]
In this unanimous, published per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary disposition denying no-fault PIP benefits to plaintiff in a situation where plaintiff claimed he was entitled to benefits under §3106(l)(c) for injuries sustained while entering into his employer provided vehicle.
Plaintiff stopped at a self-service gas station, exited the truck, pumped the gas, and went into the station to pay. As he returned to the truck, he walked between the rear of the truck and the front of a car which had pulled up behind the truck. The car lurched forward, pinning the plaintiffs knees between the bumpers and causing severe injury to his right knee. Plaintiff did not personally own a vehicle, and relied solely upon his employer's truck. The truck was insured by his employer through Hartford. The vehicle which struck plaintiff and its driver were uninsured.
The trial court found that plaintiff was entering into the vehicle pursuant to §3106(l)(c), which provides for no-fault benefits for accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of & parked vehicle. However, the trial court denied that Hartford (the insurer of the employer's vehicle) was obligated to pay benefits under the priority provisions of the No-Fault Act. The trial court found that plaintiff was not an occupant of a motor vehicle within the meaning of the priority provisions of §3114(3) or (4) which would have required coverage from Hartford. Further, the trial court found that plaintiff's employer's truck was not "involved in the accident" within the meaning of §3115, and therefore, coverage was not available under that section.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of benefits from Hartford, reaching the same result but for a different reason. The Court of Appeals concluded that since plaintiff had not crossed the plane or threshold of the truck's door, nor had he even made physical contact with the truck's door when the accident occurred, he could not be considered to have been entitled to benefits under the No-Fault Act as a person "entering into" a parked vehicle. Therefore, the plaintiff was not entitled to benefits from Hartford as the no-fault insurer for the truck because the parked vehicle exception of §3106 did not apply.
The court further concluded that plaintiff was not entitled to receive PIP benefits under the No-Fault Act, and consequently, it was unnecessary to address the priority provisions of the No-Fault Act in §3114 or §3115.
[Editors Note: It is respectfully submitted that the decision of the Court of Appeals in this case has misapplied and incorrectly interpreted the provisions of the No-Fault Act applicable to this case. The question presented by this case is one of priority, and there is no issue as to whether or not the injured party is entitled as a non-occupant to benefits under the facts of this case. Based upon the facts presented, it is difficult to discern how the Court of Appeals reached a decision concluding that the injured party was not entitled to PIP benefits from anyone. Based upon the facts as contained in the decision of the court, the plaintiff is entitled to benefits from someone, since his injuries arose out of the ownership, operation or use of the striking vehicle which lurched forward and pinned him between the two vehicles. Plaintiff’s benefits would come either from his own policy, if he has one, or, in the event that the striking vehicle is uninsured, through a proper claim made through the Assigned Claims Facility under the provisions of §3172.]