Joyriding teenager in family auto can collect PIP benefits despite "unlawful taking"
The Court of Appeals reluctantly followed Supreme Court precedent in distinguishing car theft and a child's unlawful use of the family auto. Under section 3113 of the no fault act, a person "unlawfully taking" an auto cannot collect PIP benefits (i.e., medical and limited lost wages and domestic services). The Supreme Court previously drew a distinction that allowed joyriding family members to collect PIP expenses, even though they did not have consent to take a family vehicle.
The Court of Appeals would have decided this issue differently in the instant case, but was bound to follow prior appellate court precedent. The Uniform Act upon which the Michigan no fault scheme was designed, makes a similar distinction between family and non-family non-consensual use of a car. The cases are Roberts v. Titan Insurance Company and Priesman v. Meridian Mutual Ins. Co. It is likely that Titan will ask the current Supreme Court to revisit this issue.
Titan also attempted to avoid paying Roberts' medical expenses by voiding the insurance policy on the basis of misrepresentations made by Roberts' mother when she purchased insurance. The Court held that it was clear-cut under Michigan law that a fraud in purchasing insurance will bar only participants in the fraud from collecting benefits; parties innocent of the fraud claim may not be denied coverage.