Auto Club must pay PIP benefits to woman exiting her car
Michigan's No Fault auto insurance scheme requires that an auto insurer pay PIP benefits (medical and three years of wage loss or domestic services) if someone is injured while "entering or alighting" from a motor vehicle. Florine Burks was getting out of her daughter's car, after a trip to the grocery store, when the car was hit by another car. Florine had both of her feet on the ground, but was in the process of removing her groceries from the back seat when she noticed the out-of-control car, pushed the door closed and attempted to "brace her body" against the car. The Auto Club argued that since she did not have either foot inside the car, the court should create a bright-line distinction and hold that she was not "entering or alighting" from the car and not entitled to no fault PIP benefits.
The Court rejected this approach and required the insurer to pay PIP benefits, noting that by any reasonable interpretation of the events, Ms. Burks was in the process of gathering her bags of groceries and leaving the car when the injury occurred.