AutoOwners avoids PIP payments for head-injured driver who "owned" vehicle
James Lamson suffered a very severe and permanent head injury in a motor vehicle collision. His mother took over his daily care and brought this action to recover PIP medical benefits. Lamson was driving a vehicle that had belonged to his cousin in Virginia, and which she claimed he had agreed to purchase for $500.00. She could not recall whether he had made any weekly payments or what was owed on the car. At the time of the collision, the vehicle was uninsured, and the Court of Appeals ruled that since Lamson had enjoyed possession of the vehicle for the 7-10 days since he moved to Michigan from Virginia, and had made no provision for returning it to his cousin, he was the "owner" of an uninsured vehicle and therefore not entitled to Personal Injury Protection benefits. The Trial Court had determined that a question of fact existed with regard to the ownership of the vehicle, but the higher court disagreed.