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Smoking in Mom's car while parked in her driveway constitutes taking ownership!

Brian Adams moved in with his mother to care for her during an illness.  He walked out to sit in the car, in her driveway, to smoke a cigarette.  While he was there, another vehicle left the road and struck the car, injuring Adams.  When he sought Personal Injury Protection benefits from the incident as an "occupant" of a motor vehicle, however, Citizens Insurance rejected his claim.  Citizens argued that under the no fault act Adams was the owner of the vehicle which was uninsured:  the owner of an uninsured vehicle involved in a motor vehicle collision cannot collect either PIP benefits (medical and wages, essentially) from any no fault insurer, nor non-economic damages from the at-fault driver. Surprisingly, the Court upheld the dismissal of Adams' PIP claim, finding him to be the "owner" of his mother's uninsured car.  As evidence to support this finding the Court cited only one piece of evidence:  Adams had alleged that he could go out to the car and smoke a cigarette without obtaining his mother's [the registered owner's] permission.  We hope there was some other evidence (such as documentation that Adams had actually been driving the car for more than 30 days, without the need for permission) to justify this decision, since on its face the holding seems to be totally unwarranted.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262