Driver Wins Michigan Supreme Court Appeal Over PIP Benefits

June 20, 2017

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Detroit-area man who is seeking insurance benefits for injuries suffered when he got out of his pickup truck.

On September 15, 2012, Daniel Kemp arrived home from work and while unloading his car, he tore a calf muscle as he stretched on his tiptoes to grab a thermos, briefcase and overnight bag, just 30 seconds after parking. Two courts said he wasn’t entitled to payment from his truck insurer.

According to a syllabus summarizing the opinion prepared by Kathryn Loomis, the reporter of decisions, Kemp filed a complaint against his no-fault insurer, Farm Bureau General Insurance Company of Michigan to obtain personal injury protection benefits under the parked motor vehicle exception in MCL 500.3106(1)(b) for an injury he sustained while unloading personal items from his parked vehicle.

The Supreme Court’s opinion outlined how Michigan’s no-fault insurance applies to this case. Under MCL 5003105(1), an insurer must provide PIP benefits for accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle.

Coverage is mostly excluded when an injury involves a parked vehicle, unless one of three statutory exceptions applies. Kemp stated he is eligible for PIP benefits under the second clause of the parked motor vehicle exceptions:

MCL 500.3106(1)(b):

…the injury was a direct result of physical contact with equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle, while the equipment was being operated or used, or property being lifted onto or lowered from the vehicle in the loading or unloading process.

Farm Bureau filed a motion for summary judgment indicating Kemp had not provided a genuine issue of material fact relating to whether he satisfied MCL 500.3106. The lower court granted Farm Bureau’s motion and Kemp appealed.

But in a 4-3 opinion Thursday, the Supreme Court said a jury should sort out the facts in Kemp’s case. The court says he was using his truck for transportation purposes when he was unloading his possessions – a key legal threshold.

Farm Bureau Insurance has warned that insurance companies could become responsible for strained backs, stubbed toes and other common injuries.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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