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Jasinski v National Indemnity Ins Co; (COA-PUB, 5/20/1986; RB #923)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 83455; Published  
Judges Danhof, Maher, and Kingsley; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 151 Mich App 812; Link to Opinion alt   

Compulsory Insurance Requirements for Owners or Registrants of Motor Vehicles Required to Be Registered [§3101(1)]  
Definition of Motor Vehicle (General) [§3101(2)(e)]  
Definition of Motor Vehicle (Trailers) [§3101(2)(e)]  
Exclusion for Vehicles Considered Parked [§3106(1)]  
Exception for Entering Into or Alighting From [§3106(1)(c)]

Motor Vehicle Code (Definition of Owner) (MCL 257.37) (MCL 257.401a)   

This unanimous per curiam Opinion involves a dispute over which insurance company is liable to pay no-fault benefits to plaintiff for injuries he sustained when he slipped and fell while alighting from the cab of a tractor-trailer. The dispute was between the insurer of the tractor and the insurer of the trailer. It was undisputed that the insurance policy covering the tractor was written so that it provided coverage only when there was no other valid and collectible insurance. The tractor insurer argued that the insurance policy on the trailer was broad enough to cover the tractor and therefore the tractor's coverage was not triggered.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court's conclusion that the trailer's insurance did not cover the tractor and, as a result, the tractor's policy was primary. The court rejected the argument that, under MCLA 25737, the owner of the trailer was in effect the owner of the tractor. The court ruled that the tractor and trailer are two separate motor vehicles within the meaning of the no-fault statute. The statute does not require that each owner or registrant have a separate policy covering the vehicle but only that there be a policy covering the vehicle. In this case, the no-fault act had been satisfied because the owner of the tractor maintained security for payment of no-fault benefits as required by the lease agreement which covered the unit.

The Court of Appeals also rejected the tractor insurer's argument that the driver "slipped off the step of this tractor because it was coated with chicken fat which had its origin in the cargo of frozen chickens he had unloaded from the trailer just prior to the accident." The Court of Appeals held that the unloading process had been completed when plaintiff’s injury occurred. The court stated, "although the unloading of the frozen chickens from the trailer may have caused plaintiff to get chicken fat on his shoes, the accident which caused plaintiff’s injury was a slip and fall on the step of the tractor. Plaintiff’s accidental bodily injury did not arise out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of the parked trailer as a motor vehicle. Rather, plaintiff’s accidental bodily injury was sustained while alighting from the tractor. Section 3106(1X0).''

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