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Citizens Insurance Company of America v Detloff; (COA-PUB, 2/2/1979; RB #181)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 78-2348; Published   
Judges Bashara, Brennan, and Maher; Per Curiam   
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 89 Mich App 429; Link to Opinion alt    

Compulsory Insurance Requirements for Owners or Registrants of Motor Vehicles Required to Be Registered [§3101(1)]
Security Requirement Applicable for Highway Use [§3101(1)]

Legislative Purpose and Intent   

In a per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals held that a no-fault insurance company was liable to pay first party no-fault benefits to its insured pedestrian who was severely injured when struck by a fork lift which was being driven from one construction site to another. The Court based its opinion on the fact that the actual language of the no-fault insurance policy defined "motor vehicle" as a "vehicle, including a trailer, operated or designed for operation upon a public highway by power other than muscular power which has more than two wheels." This definition is exactly the same as the one contained in §3101(2) of the no-fault statute. The policy definition does not incorporate the specific language of §3101(1) of the statute, thus limiting the definition of "motor vehicles" to those vehicles which are required to be registered through the state. The Court stated that the insurance company was free to have incorporated this broader language into the definition of motor vehicle but it chose not to do so. Accordingly, the express contractual definition of motor vehicle (which does not refer to registration requirements) controls and the plaintiff is entitled to receive PIP benefits as a result of being struck by an unregistered fork lift.

The Court also held that even if the policy language referring to payment "in accordance with chapter 31 of the Michigan Insurance Code" incorporates the registered vehicle limitation of §3101(1) an ambiguity would be created in the policy, in which case the ambiguity would be construed against the insurance company.

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