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Hathcox v Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, et al; (ICC-UNP, 3/30/1978; RB #70)

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Ingham County Circuit Court; Docket No. 77-21052-NZ; Unpublished    
Judge James T. Kallman; Written Opinion   
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt   


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Exception for Employer Provided Vehicles [§3114(3)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Workers Disability Compensation Act (MCL 418.1, et seq.)   


CASE SUMMARY:   
In a written Opinion dealing primarily with §3114(3) of the no-fault statute, Judge Kallman held that an employee who sustains bodily injury in the course of his employment while an occupant of his employer's vehicle is not entitled to receive no-fault benefits from the employer's no-fault carrier for the reason that the employee's "exclusive remedy" against his employer or the employer's insurer is workers' comp benefits. In so holding, Judge Kallman relied upon Mathis v Interstate (item number 28). Judge Kallman further held that §3114(3) does not "grant benefits" where benefits are prohibited by the exclusive remedy rule of the Workers' Comp Act, but merely permits the employee to recover PIP benefits from his employer's carrier if the employee was injured while occupying his employer's vehicle where the vehicle was not being used in the course of his employment.

The Court recognized that the holding may be inequitable where the injured employee's workers' comp rate is substantially lower than the employee's actual wage loss, but held that the no-fault statute "cannot be used to subsidize inadequate benefits paid by the Workers' Compensation Act" In light of this opinion's construction of §3114(3) Judge Kallman stated, "If workers' compensation benefits are denied, then the insured is entitled to no-fault benefits from the employer's carrier."

In the same holding, Judge Kallman held that the injured employee could not recover on his claim for no-fault benefits under his own private no-fault contract where such a private policy has an exclusion clause which denied benefits in situations where the insured is occupying an employer's vehicle. The Court felt that such an exclusion did not violate public policy and was presumptively valid "since it has been approved by the insurance commissioner."

The ultimate conclusion reached in the opinion was that a person who sustains bodily injury while an occupant of his employer's vehicle in the course of his employment is entitled to no no-fault coverage from either the employer's carrier or the injured person's carrier. The decision will be appealed.


Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit SinasDramis.com.

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