Semi parked in travel lane for repair is not "parked in a way as to cause unreasonable risk of injury:" insurer granted summary disposition
Karen Jordan's husband was killed when his motorcycle struck the rear of a semi-tractor trailer parked in the right hand lane of Rawsonville Road. The speed limit is 50 miles per hour; the truck driver had stopped when he experienced difficulty with his brakes. According to an affidavit and police records, he may have failed to activate his emergency flashers or to have properly distributed warning triangles behind the tractor-trailer.
Under the no fault law, the survivors of a deceased accident victim can collect PIP benefits (basically three years of wages and some service expenses) from the insurer of a parked vehicle, if the vehicle is involved in the accident and parked in such a manner as to present an "unreasonable risk of bodily injury." The insurer of the tractor-trailer denied its liability for PIP benefits, claiming the unit did not present an unreasonable risk.
The Wayne County Judge agreed with the insurer and granted summary disposition to the insurance company. The widow appealed, but drew a panel of the Court of Appeals that included insurer-friendly Richard Boonstra. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision, and held that even with evidence of the improper use of emergency flashers and safety triangles, it was proper to grant summary disposition to the truck's insurer. Parking the truck so that it occupied one entire lane of a five-lane, 50 mile per hour roadway, could not be deemed to present an unreasonable risk of bodily injury, according to these judges.