Not every car accident involves to drivers, or even two cars. Find out what counts as a motor vehicle accident for no-fault insurance benefits. Learn whether you can still be covered if you weren't driving, or even inside the car.
The Michigan No-Fault Act requires auto insurance providers to pay benefits any time an insured party suffers “accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle.” That broad definition covers a lot more than simply drivers. Here are examples people who may be entitled to receive no-fault benefits, even though they weren't driving.
Drivers aren't the only ones injured in motor vehicle accidents. Passengers — including children — are often severely injured in car crashes. When that happens, they can collect insurance benefits from their own insurance provider, or under the policy of a spouse or relative in their household. There are also special rules for passengers riding public transportation, or in company-owned vehicles.
Motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles under the Michigan No-Fault Act (because they only have 2 wheels). But when a motorcycle accident includes another car or truck, that motor vehicle can trigger no-fault benefits for the motorcyclist. Even if the biker was not actually struck by a vehicle, there may be arguments that the "operation" or "use" of a motor vehicle caused the crash if, for example, a car cut off the motorcyclist or caused gravel to spray into the biker's face.
You don't have to be in a car, or on a motorcycle, to be entitled to no-fault benefits after a motor vehicle accident. Every year, thousands of Michigan bicyclists and pedestrians are injured when they are struck by motor vehicles. If those injured pedestrians don't have insurance of their own (or in their household), they can turn to the insurance covering any vehicle involved in the accident (including policies owned by the owners or the drivers). If there is still no insurance to be had, the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF) will assign their claim to one of the state's auto insurance providers, to make sure their medical expenses get paid.
You may have heard, or even expected, that pedestrians, bikers, and passengers would have access to no-fault benefits after a car crash. But what about injuries that happen when the motor vehicle isn't moving? Will they still be covered?
Auto accident cases aren't always a cut-and-dry case of either driving or not. Motor vehicle accidents can sometimes occur in those moments between: as you are parking, getting into or out of your car, or unloading items from the trunk. These in-between moments are often covered by the Michigan No-Fault Act, so even if you weren't driving at the moment of the accident, you may still be entitled to benefits.
Some motor vehicles come fitted with lift gates, towing equipment, or other tools of their trade. Other times, you may use a commercial or consumer vehicle to tow a trailer. When that equipment or trailer is the direct cause of your bodily injury, you may not think to turn to your auto insurance provider for help. But in many cases, the equipment or trailer attached to your truck is considered a motor vehicle under the law.
Parked cars get their own special rules under the Michigan No-Fault Act. Injuries caused by a parked car itself are generally not covered unless the way the vehicle was parked created an undue risk of injury. But if you are injured coming up to or getting out of a parked vehicle, or if you are sitting in one parked car when it is struck by another motor vehicle, you may be entitled to no-fault benefits.
Most people don't think of calling their auto insurance companies after a jack fails or they slip and fall while washing their cars. But there are cases based on the Michigan No-Fault Act that say they should. Injuries that are the result of maintaining a vehicle are considered motor vehicle accidents under the law.
Your Michigan no-fault insurance may entitle you to benefits any time you are injured as the result of using a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle. That means you may be covered even if you weren't driving. But you don't have much time after the accident to file your claim for benefits. If you have been injured and a car or truck was involved in any way, you should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you can to determine if your injury counts as a motor vehicle accident.
At Sachs Waldman, we know details count when deciding whether to file a no-fault claim. We will review your case and help you determine if your injuries qualify for auto insurance benefits. If you have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our Detroit personal injury law office at 1-800-638-6722.