State Farm's objection to paying PIP benefits when tailgate dysfunctions is rejected by Court of Appeals
Charles Lefevers attempted to dump contaminated soil at the landfill, however, his tailgate malfunctioned. He walked from the actuator to the tailgate and attempted to dislodge it by hand. In the process, the gate released, he lost his footing and fell 14 feet into a concrete-lined landfill pit. He sought medical benefits from State Farm, which refused to pay.
Lefevers argued that he should be entitled to PIP medical expenses under one of three theories which would make him eligible for benefits: 1) he argued that he was in contact with permanently mounted equipment; 2) he argued that the vehicle was parked in an location that was not reasonably safe, as it was too close to the landfill pit; and 3) he argued that his injury was caused by contact with the contaminated dirt being unloaded. The Court of Appeals held that the latter two bases for awarding PIP medical benefits did not apply, but that the first inclusion did. Since he was in contact with the dump trailer tailgate and it was permanetly mounted equipment--and in operation at the time of the fall, Lefevers was eligible for PIP benefits.