Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Injured Unloading Your Car? Michigan Supreme Court Weighs In on Coverage

Not all car accidents happen on the road. Some people are seriously injured by accidents involving parked motor vehicles. But will your PIP insurance pay for that? The Michigan Supreme Court recently weighed in on what happens when you are injured unloading your car.

Sometimes an everyday act can have serious personal injury. When those actions involve a motor vehicle, it raises the question: can you get PIP benefits to pay for your medical expenses, wage loss, and related costs?

Parked Motor Vehicle Accident Rules

The rules for parked motor vehicle accidents under the Michigan No-Fault Act say PIP benefits only kick in if you and your personal injury attorney are able to show:
  1. That the injury was the direct result of physical contact with permanently mounted equipment while in use, or with property being loaded or unloaded from the vehicle.
  2. That the injury was related to the “transportational function” of a motor vehicle
  3. That the injury was “causally related” to the use as a vehicle.
Each of these requirements must be considered on a case-by-case basis. A recent Michigan Supreme Court case, Kemp v Farm Bureau General Insurance Company of Michigan, shows that it can still apply if you are injured unloading your car.

Michigan Supreme Court Takes on Unloading Injury Case

Daniel Kemp was injured in 2012 when he reached into his truck to retrieve a number of personal items bundled together on the floor behind his driver’s seat. He explained:
“’I leaned in the vehicle, picked up my items, brought them outside as I twisted to set them down. That’s when I heard bang, stuff fell to the ground, I fell in the truck.’”
Kemp suffered injuries to his back and calf. He filed a claim with Farm Bureau Insurance Company for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits under his no-fault policy. But the company said he wasn’t covered for injuries caused by unloading his vehicle.

The Michigan Supreme Court disagreed. The key question was whether loading and unloading personal effects was related to the vehicle’s “transportational function.” The Court said the purpose of a vehicle is to “’carry or convey persons or objects, [especially] over land or in space. . . .’” It said that unloading your vehicle of personal effects on arrival was necessarily part of this transportational function.

The Supreme Court decision opens the door for lawsuits when you are injured unloading your vehicle. However, you will still need to show that your injuries were made by physical contact with the unloaded property and directly related to the use of the vehicle. These are complicated legal arguments that need the help of a skilled personal injury attorney. Dani K. Liblang of The Liblang Law Firm, PC, in Birmingham, Michigan, has been representing injured motorists for over 30 years. If you have been injured unloading your car, contact The Liblang Law Firm, PC, for a free consultation.

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