Michigan High Court Set to Hear Farm Bureau No Fault Case

By ED WHITE | October 6, 2016

If you hurt yourself while pulling stuff from your parked car, should your insurance company be on the hook for the injuries?

The Michigan Supreme Court is opening a new term with arguments in that case and many others, including alleged misconduct by an Ann Arbor-area judge who could lose his job.

In September 2012, truck driver Daniel Kemp arrived home from work and parked his truck. He got out of the vehicle and collected personal effects from the backseat floorboard. In doing so, he allegedly suffered an injury to his calf muscle, and received treatment from an urgent care center and a physician.

He sought payments under his no-fault policy but Farm Bureau Insurance denied his claim and moved for summary judgment once suit was filed. The insurer argued that “Kemp could not collect such benefits because, among other things, he was not using the motor vehicle as a motor vehicle at the time of the injury and the parked vehicle had only an “incidental” causal relationship to his injury.

The trial court ruled that plaintiff’s injuries were not related to the use or operation of his motor vehicle as a motor vehicle and the injury was merely incidental to use of the vehicle.

On appeal, Kemp asserted the trial court erred when it held that his injury was not related to the use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle and he is not entitled to PIP.

The court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision and noted that the mere fact “that plaintiff’s movement in reaching for [his personal effects] occurred in the interior of the truck does not transform the incident into a motor vehicle accident for no-fault purpose.”

Kemp acknowledges that his truck wasn’t moving when he was hurt. But he says his injuries were related to the “transportational use” of the truck.

The state Supreme Court hears arguments in 11 cases this week.

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