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Michigan Supreme Court majority narrows entitlement to PIP benefits

In one of a continuing parade of insurance-friendly decisions, the Republican majority of Michigan's Supreme Court issued an opinion last week narrowing the range of injured people who may collect no fault PIP benefits.  Since 1974, persons injured while entering or leaving a vehicle, or while working on or in a vehicle, have been generally entitled to collect PIP benefits (medical expense and limited wages and household services).  The Court of Appeals applied this established law in Lefevers v. State Farm to allow a man injured by contact with his dump trailer tailgate to collect his medical expenses.

The Republican majority over-turned this result and fashioned a more restrictive test related to it's 2011 decision re-defining the statutory language governing who is entitled to receive no fault benefits.  The statute allows anyone in contact with equipment mounted on a vehicle to collect benefits:  the Republican majority interpreted this language to include "mounted equipment" but to exclude anyone who was in contact with the vehicle, itself (for example, a car door).  Is it logical?  No.  Is it consistent with the statutory purpose?  No.  Does this interpretation naturally flow from the statutory language?  Only if you are looking out for the interests of your allies, the no fault insurers.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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