A family towed their camping trailer and set it up at their designated camp site. After the camper was set up, one of the family members entered it to retrieve her glasses for reading. While exiting the camper, she slipped on the steps and suffered bodily injury requiring medical care. She applied for no-fault benefits under the no-fault law allowing coverage for no-fault benefits when one is injured while entering or exiting a parked motor vehicle. MCL 500.3016(1)(c). Her auto insurer denied her claim. The Michigan Court of Appeals held that no-fault insurance did not apply reasoning that once the trailer was set up at the camp site, it no longer met the no-fault act’s definition of “trailer” (MCL 500.3101) and was not being used in its intended, transportational function. Instead, it had converted into an accommodation and therefore, lost its nexus to being a motor vehicle under the act. MCL 500.3105(1).
What this means for injured persons and medical providers:
This case is important to Michiganders and medical providers because of our proud heritage of recreating and enjoyment of our natural resources. Camping is inherently part of our proud history. Thus, this case importantly illustrates when a camping trailer loses its transportational function as a motor vehicle and becomes a stationary object not related to transportation. And as a consequence, when no-fault insurance ceases to apply when injuries occur while using the camper as a camper. In this instance, an injured person’s other health or accident medical coverage becomes primary.
(NOTE: This case does not address the factual scenario of suffering bodily injury while setting up or breaking down the camper at the camp site. More than likely, that type of fact setting would trigger no-fault liability because the camper is still in its/or is returning to its motor vehicle status.).
You can read this Opinion here.
Authored by L. Page Graves