The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a published decision affirming the basic rule that an injured claimant’s generic notice of injury constitutes sufficient notice to a liable no-fault insurer. The case is Dillon v State Farm Mut Auto In Co, ___ Mich App ___ (May 3, 2016)(Docket No. 324902). When Ms. Dillon was injured in a car crash, her immediate pain symptoms were localized in her low back and left shoulder. And these were the generic injuries reported to State Farm within one-year of the crash. MCL 500.3145 requires written notice of a claim for no-fault benefits within one-year of the crash and in that notice, the claimant is to “indicate in ordinary language . . . the . . . nature of his injury.” After a year had passed, Ms. Dillon began experience symptoms in her left hip and began medical treatment. State Farm refused to pay arguing it was not notified of this particular body part/injury within one-year, citing MCL 500.3145. The Michigan Court of Appeals held that “the notice of loss does not need to identify the specific injury.” Applying the Michigan Supreme Court’s standards of plain text construction, the court referenced Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary which defines the term “nature” as to be “a kind of class” as opposed to specifics. Accordingly, the court reasoned that since Ms. Dillon notified State Farm that she was injured in the crash within one year, her generic notice of injury satisfies statutory notice for no-fault PIP benefits.
Authored by L. Page Graves