Auto insurance protects you, your passengers, your vehicle, and other drivers and their vehicles when you are involved in an accident. After all, that is why we pay for auto insurance–to help us out in the event of an auto accident. But about injuries that are not sustained while you are actually driving, but you are still using the car in some way? For example, could you file a claim against your insurance company if you were burned by your car’s radiator when adding coolant? What about if you slip and fall when you have just parked and are exciting the vehicle? These incidents are auto insurance “edge cases” and auto insurance generally manage to avoid paying these types of claims.
But all of that might be about to change after a recent ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court.
What is “Transportational Use”?
In 2012, Michigan resident Daniel Kemp tore a calf muscle while stretching on his tiptoes to grab a thermos, briefcase, and overnight bag, just 30 seconds after he had parked his pickup truck in his driveway. He sought payment from Farm Bureau under his no-fault policy, but the insurance agency rejected his claim. Mr. Kemp acknowledged that his truck was not moving at the time of his injury, but he argued that he should qualify for benefits because his injuries were related to the “transportational use” of his vehicle. Thus, he is essentially arguing that auto insurance policies should pay claims to drivers who are injured during the entire time they are using the vehicle, whether they are actually driving the vehicle at the time of the incident or not.
Michigan Supreme Court Ruling
Mr. Kemp’s arguments were rejected by two courts, which his auto insurance company called a victory for “common sense.” However, on appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, the court stated that a jury should hear the case so that they can make a determination as to whether he is entitled to compensation. The court stated that he was using his truck for transportation purposes when he was unloading his legal possessions, and, thus, this is a key legal threshold. Mr. Kemp’s insurance agency warned that a decision in his favor would mean that insurance companies could become responsible for a whole host of injuries that they have not been previously obligated to cover, such as strained backs, stubbed toes, and other very common injuries. Mr. Kemp, on the other hand, believes that a decision in his favor will be a win for consumers, as it will compensate them from all vehicle-related injuries rather than the very narrow class of injuries the insurance companies currently cover. Although the Michigan Supreme Court did not rule that Mr. Kemp could recover from his insurance company, it did open the door for a jury to decide in his favor.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney Today for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured in a car accident (or any other type of accident), we can help guide you through the process of making a claim against your insurance company and in getting the maximum compensation you are entitled to. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Columbus, Fort Benning, and Loganville.