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Porter v Michigan Mutual Liability Company, et al; (COA-PUB, 12/5/1977; RB #53)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 30472; Published   
Judges T. M. Burns, A. E. Keyes, and Danhof; 2-1 (with Danhof Dissenting)    
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 80 Mich App 145; Link to Opinion alt   

PIP Benefit Deductibles [§3109(3)]
General Rule of Priority [§3114(1)]
Exception for Motorcycle Injuries [§3114(5)]
Exception to General Priority for Non-Occupants [§3115(1)]

Legislative Purpose and Intent    

The Court of appeals, in a 2-1 decision, held that §3114(1) of the no-fault statute requires that a motorcyclist who had supplemental no-fault coverage under his father's automobile policy which provided him benefits in motorcycle automobile accidents must first seek no-fault benefits from his father's carrier before turning to the no-fault insurer of the owner of the automobile causing the motorcyclist's injuries. Absent such supplemental coverage applying to the motorcyclist, he is permitted to recover his no-fault benefits from the insurer of the owner of the automobile on the basis that he is a "non-occupant" under §3115(1). In so holding, the Court recognized that motorcyclists are "not excluded from no-fault" They simply do not have to maintain coverage on their own and are entitled to benefits from automobile owners involved in the accident.

The Court also held that any deductible provision in excess of $300 which pertains to PIP benefits and which must be authorized by the Insurance Commissioner pursuant to §3109(3) and 3109(a) is invalid and void on the basis that the no-fault statute provides no guidelines to the Commissioner instructing him as to when and under what conditions he can authorize such deductibles. Accordingly, the no-fault statute makes an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power without appropriate guidelines.

Chief Judge Danhof dissented from the majority's holding regarding the availability of PIP benefits to motorcyclists injured in automobile accidents. Judge Danhof felt that a motorcyclist should recover his benefits from the insurer of the owner of the automobile involved in the accident pursuant to the dictates of §3115(1) even though the motorcyclist has supplemental no-fault coverage under a family automobile policy. Judge Danhof viewed such no-fault policies carried by motorcyclists as additional, non-required PIP coverage purchased to cover the motorcyclist-motorist in the event of catastrophic injuries resulting from accidents where there is no PIP coverage available. In so holding, Judge Danhof argued that §3114(1) is applicable only to priority disputes involving situations when PIP benefits are payable to an insured person under his own policy and are also payable under a relative's policy. Accordingly, §3114(1) is not applicable to priority problems involving motorcyclists owning supplemental no-fault protection policies who are involved in automobile accidents. In those cases, the injured motorcyclist should get his benefits from the automobile involved in the accident.

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