Court summarily dismisses insured's Uninsured Motorist Claim because he settled PIP claim "with prejudice."
Jerome Graham was injured in a car accident. HIs insurer, State Farm, refused to pay some of his Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical services, so he was forced to sue the company. Ultimately, he settled that claim and dismissed it "with prejudice." In 2011, he confirmed that the "at fault" driver was uninsured and filed a lawsuit against State Farm to collect damages under the Uninsured Motorist Coverage that he had purchased. State Farm argued that Graham was legally obligated to bring both suits in the same action and on that basis it sought summary disposition of the UM claim. The Court agreed and dismissed Graham's suit, holding that since he learned the other driver was uninsured during the pendency of the PIP action, he was obligated to join both claims in that suit.
This becomes a rather bizarre holding, on reflection, given that the insured must sue within 12 months of incurring any medical or other PIP expense, yet in many cases, the viability of a "third-party" injury or UM/UIM claim will be questionable, while the insured is attempting to confirm the fact of coverage or the physicians' opinion about the seriousness or permanence of any injury. As with many judicial decisions by Michigan's insurance-oriented Republican majority, the insured is faced with a Hobson's choice of "Heads the insurer wins; tails the insured loses."
The Court suggested that both claims would require proof of "the same evidence," however, that is simply not accurate: a PIP claim turns on the "reasonableness and necessity" of a particular unpaid PIP expense and its causation by the motor vehicle accident. A UM claim requires proof of fault, proof of the uninsured's status, and proof that the over-all injury constituted a "serious impairment of bodily function."