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Citizens Insurance loses effort to avoid paying car accident PIP benefits to mother removing her child from parked car

The Detroit Medical Center and its patient, S. English, were forced to sue Titan Insurance and Citizens to compel payment of English's auto accident-related no fault medical benefits. English was badly hurt when she was struck by a car while removing her child from the carseat in a borrowed van.  It turned out the owner of the van had not insured it, and owning no vehicle, English had no car insurance. 

Relying on two separate sections of the no fault act, the two insurers both claimed the other was responsible for PIP benefits.  The Court of Appeals concluded that English was "entering or alighting" from the vehicle, but not an "occupant."  Therefore, Citizens was obligated to pay all PIP benefits, including the expenses arising out of English being struck by and pinned to the ground by the vehicle that struck her van.  Even though one foot was still in the van when it was struck, the Court concluded that under the facts, English was not "occupying" the van when the impact occurred. 

This interpretation could haunt other injury victims in the future if applied in a circumstance where no other insurer is responsible for injuries to a "non-occupant."

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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