OAIN: Court Case Highlights Potential Complexity of Car Insurance Claims

December 28, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
The state Supreme Court sided with one of the largest auto insurance companies in Michigan in the state last week when it ruled 4-3 that Allstate did not have to pay a claim filed by a woman who allegedly slipped and broke her ankle before getting into her car before work, reports Online Auto Insurance News.

According to the policyholder's account, she had just put some of her personal belongings into her car one morning in 2005 when she closed the door and fell to the icy ground, breaking her ankle.

She filed a claim with Allstate, her coverage provider, saying that her injury was in connection to the use of her vehicle. But after beginning to pay out on the insurance claim, Allstate took the policyholder to court to contest its validity, and thus started the $433,655 claims' process through the judicial system and all the way up to the state Supreme Court.

Usually, claims involving a parked car are not considered valid under Michigan state law. But the case centered specifically on two definitions contained in an esoteric part of the law that provides for a handful of exceptions.

Under the law, injuries that occur in relation to a parked car must either have been the "direct result of physical contact with equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle" or have taken place while "alighting from the vehicle."

The main issue in the case was whether the car door-which the policyholder allegedly had her hand on during the fall-constituted "equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle" and whether she was in the process of "alighting" when the fall happened.

In the end, a majority of the court said the claim did not fall under the exceptions.

Four of the justices agreed that a door is a "constituent pat" of the vehicle and therefore should not be considered "equipment mounted on the vehicle." They also agreed that the policyholder had finished "alighting" from the vehicle when she went to close the door.

The remaining justices said there was legal precedent showing that a person could still be in the process of "alighting" from a vehicle even when both feet are on the ground and that the policyholder should have qualified for the exception.

Source: http://coa.courts.mi.gov/documents/OPINIONS/FINAL/SCT/20111221_S142545_62_frazier-op.pdf

To learn more about this and other Michigan car insurance issues, readers can go to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/michigan/ where they will find informative resource pages and a quote-comparison generator that can help consumers quickly evaluate their coverage options.