The Michigan Court of Appeals recently published a case that holds that a person who is injured while occupying an uninsured vehicle that is not operable may recover no-fault PIP benefits.  The case is Shinn v State of Michigan Assigned Claims Facility, ___ Mich App ___ (Docket No. 324227, dated March 29, 2016).  In Shinn, the injured plaintiff was occupying her parked motor vehicle when it was struck by another vehicle.  Ms. Shinn had parked her motor vehicle on the street in front of her house.  The car was inoperable and had not been used for a period of time.  Because of this fact, Ms. Shinn did not continue to maintain no-fault insurance on the vehicle.  After she got hurt, Ms. Shinn applied for no-fault PIP benefits through the Secretary of State, Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, per MCL 500.3171, et seq.  Under the no-fault act, the assigned claims plan is the insurer of last resort when no other applicable insurer exists but the injured person is otherwise eligible for no-fault benefits having been injured by a motor vehicle.  In this case, Ms. Shinn was injured by virtue of being rear-ended by a moving motor vehicle.  The MACP assigned Ms. Shinn’s no-fault PIP claim to Farmers Insurance Exchange which denied the claim citing MCL 500.3113(b) as its defense, arguing that Ms. Shinn was occupying an uninsured motor vehicle that she owned, that was involved in the accident and which was uninsured at the time.  Ms. Shinn challenged Farmer’s denial by arguing that the no-fault act only mandates insurance for vehicles that are driven or moved on a highway.  That is exactly what MCL 500.3101(1) says.  Ms. Shinn argued further that the statutory bar under MCL 500.3113(b) only seeks to preclude no-fault benefits to an owner operating an uninsured vehicle on the highway.  The Court of Appeals agreed.  PIP benefits have been ordered to be restored to Ms. Shinn as an eligible no-fault PIP claimant.  This case is now binding law.

Authored by L. Page Graves