In the previous part of this series, we have looked at the insurance coverage of parked vehicles. In this article, let us look closely at the case of Frazier versus AllState Insurance Company and have a look at the scenario that led to the Michigan Supreme Court opinion.
The alleged victim was going down her vehicle. In the course of trying to get things out of the compartment, she slipped and fell in ice. Since the vehicle was parked and it belongs to her, she could not file a personal injury case but an auto accident no-fault benefit from her insurance under the concept of a parked vehicle. Is she entitled?
Michigan Supreme Court Opinion
The Michigan Supreme Court believes that she is not entitled to parked vehicle exceptions under Michigan auto accident rules.
With respect to MCL 500.3106(1)(c), “alight” means “to dismount from a horse, descend from a vehicle, etc.” or “to settle or stay after descending; come to rest.” Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (1997). See also New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (defining “alight” as “to descend and settle; come to earth from the air”).1 Moreover, that the injury must be sustained “while” alighting indicates that “alighting” does not occur in a single moment but occurs as the result of a process. The process begins when a person initiates the descent from a vehicle and is completed when an individual has effectively “descended from a vehicle” and has “come to rest”—when one has successfully transferred full control of one’s movement from reliance upon the vehicle to one’s body. This is typically accomplished when “both feet are planted firmly on the ground.”
Based on the foregoing analysis, plaintiff is not entitled to benefits under the no-fault act because her injury did not arise out of the use of a parked vehicle under MCL 500.3106(1). Plaintiff was injured when she slipped and fell on a patch of ice while closing the passenger door of her vehicle. Plaintiff had placed a few personal items in the passenger compartment via the passenger door, stood up, and stepped out of the way of the door when she closed the door and fell. Insofar as she was in contact with the door of the vehicle at the time of her injury, she was clearly in contact with the vehicle itself, not with “equipment” mounted thereon. Therefore, her injury was not “a direct result of physical contact with equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle . . . .” MCL 500.3106(1)(b). Further, before her injury, plaintiff had been standing with both feet planted firmly on the ground outside of the vehicle; she was entirely in control of her body’s movement, and she was in no way reliant upon the vehicle itself. Therefore, she was not in the process of “alighting from” the vehicle. MCL 500.3106(1)(c). At the time of her injury, the plaintiff had already alighted.
This ruling of the Supreme Court provided us with three key takeaways:
- The injury must be sustained “while” alighting indicates that “alighting” does not occur in a single moment but occurs as the result of a process. It begins when a person initiates the descent from a vehicle and is accomplished when “both feet are planted firmly on the ground.”
- The injury must be sustained during the process, not before or after.
- The exceptions for parked vehicle insurance benefits are strict.
Get Proper Coverage
In case of doubt, keep in mind that it is your no-fault insurance provider who would ultimately pay for your medical bills. As long as you get unlimited or no-limit coverage, you should be properly covered at a time when you need the best kind of coverage for your health and safety.
Contact Your Lawyer Today
If you have an insurance claim that you need assistance with, you should contact us today. A lawyer can help you get started with your claim. A lawyer at Haque Legal will see to it that your needs are met from the beginning to the end of the proceedings. You are always in good hands with Haque Legal and what it has to offer.
The article that you have read is based on general applications of the law. It is not legal advice and it is not to be construed as any legal consultation with the firm. No client-attorney relationship is created when you read the articles we have provided.
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