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Vucinaj v Amerisure Insurance Company; (COA-UNP, 3/21/2006, RB #2695)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #264933; Unpublished
Judges Neff, Saad, and Bandstra; 2-1 (Judge Neff concurring); per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not applicable, Link to Opinion courthouse graphic

Compulsory Insurance Requirements for Owners or Registrants of Motor Vehicles Required to Be Registered [3101(1)]
Definition of Owner [3101(2)(h)]

Not applicable

In this 2-1 unpublished per curiam opinion decided without oral argument, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary disposition for defendant insurance company on plaintiff’s claim for personal injury protection benefits through the Assigned Claims Facility, finding that because plaintiff had access to her husband’s uninsured vehicle for more than 30 days, she is considered an owner of the vehicle for no-fault insurance purposes. In this case, the plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident while driving her husband’s uninsured Jeep. Plaintiff sued to recover benefits from defendant, the insurer to which her claim was assigned. In affirming the trial court’s decision that plaintiff was an owner of the vehicle, the Court of Appeals noted that under Twichel v MIC General Insurance Corp., an “owner” of a vehicle under MCL 500.3101(2)(g)(I) is a person who has the right to use a vehicle for more than 30 days. The court then noted that plaintiff failed to produce any evidence regarding her right to use the vehicle. In fact, plaintiff’s husband acknowledged the second key to the vehicle was accessible to plaintiff so that she could drive the Jeep whenever she needed to. The fact that plaintiff did not actually use the Jeep for more than a 30-day period is irrelevant. In this regard, the court stated:

“In Twichel, . . . our Supreme Court addressed the definition of ‘owner’ set out in § 3101(2)(g)(I), . . . [and ] held that ‘the focus must be on the nature of the person’s right to use the vehicle.’ . . . We conclude that Twichel requires affirmance of the trial court’s grant of summary disposition in favor of defendant. The clear import of Twichel is that a person need not have actually used a vehicle for a 30-day period in order to qualify as an ‘owner.’ Rather, what matters is the person’s right to use the vehicle for a 30-day period. Plaintiff has failed to produce any evidence whatsoever to establish an issue of fact concerning her right to use the vehicle, notwithstanding her actual, limited use of the vehicle. The undisputed testimony establishes that plaintiff had every ‘right’ to use her husband’s Jeep for a period extending well beyond 30 days. Plaintiff had driven the Jeep on several occasions. Although Vaselj was the sole registered owner and primary driver of the Jeep, he acknowledged that a second key to the Jeep was accessible to plaintiff whenever she needed to use it. The fact that plaintiff did not actually use the vehicle on a ‘regular’ basis for a 30-day period is simply irrelevant under Twichel.”

Michigan auto accident attorney 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

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