You Can Get No-Fault Benefits If You Are Hurt While Working on Your Vehicle
Performing maintenance on your car and truck is a normal part of everyday life. Making sure the piece of equipment that can get you from point A to point B is working and in good shape is important. But what happens if you are injured while performing maintenance on your vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter. What benefits or compensation are you entitled to get under Michigan law?
Under the Michigan no-fault law, a person accidentally injured while performing maintenance on a motor vehicle – like a car or truck – is allowed to get the same benefits as someone injured in a standard motor vehicle accident, such as a rear-end crash or T-bone collision.
MCL 500.3105 states that an insurer, such as State Farm or Allstate, is liable to pay benefits for injuries arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle.
This means so long as the injury arises out of the maintenance of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle, that injured person can obtain no-fault benefits. These benefits can include the payment of lost wages for up to 3 years following an accident, the payment of all doctor and hospital bills and other medical expenses related to treatment from a Michigan car accident, reimbursement for prescription drug costs and mileage, as well as the payment to family members for caring for an injured person while they are recovering and recuperating at home.
What Constitutes Car Maintenance?
So, what does “maintenance” mean within the confines of the Michigan no-fault law and obtaining no-fault benefits. The seminal case is Miller v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 411 Mich. 633 (1981), which held that man injured when his car fell onto his chest while he was attempting to replace a pair of shock absorbers is a form of maintenance. As a result, the plaintiff could collect no-fault benefits in the same way a person who is hit by a drunk driver can collect benefits.
This makes intuitive sense. But what about other situations where car maintenance is not so obvious Are persons injured in those situations also able to obtain Michigan no-fault benefits when they are injured? The answer if fact specific and often turns on the activity the person was doing in relation to the involved motor vehicle.
For example, in Hackley v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 147 Mich App 115, 383 NW2d 108 (1985), the plaintiff existed his vehicle, bent over to inspect the engine and was struck by a truck. The court held that the injury arose out of the maintenance of the vehicle because plaintiff was injured while he was inspecting the car’s engine to determine why the car was stalling. See also Yates v. Hawkeye-Sec Ins. Co., 157 Mich App 771, 403 NW 2d 208 (1987) (injury arose out of maintenance of vehicle when plaintiff was hurt while preparing to tow vehicle).
The maintenance of a vehicle also includes acts associated with a third party’s normal repair and service of a motor vehicle. In Michigan Bell Tel Co v Short, 153 Mich App 431, 395 NW2d 70 (1986), the plaintiff was injured in the course of her employment when, while exiting from her employer’s work trucks, she stepped on the tailgate and fell to the ground. She argued the accident occurred because the company engaged to regularly clean the trucks failed to replace certain hooks securing the tailgate to the truck bed. The court held that cleaning and waxing constituted normal maintenance activities and she was able to obtain no-fault benefits for her injures from the incident.
Even individuals who were in the area of a vehicle receiving maintenance may be able to obtain Michigan no-fault benefits. In McMullen v. Motors Ins. Co., 203 Mich App 102 (1993), the plaintiff suffered burns when he walked past a car parked in a driveway just as a person loosened the radiator cap and allowed steam to escape. The court held this met the maintenance requirement under MCL 500.3105 and the plaintiff could collect no-fault benefits.
Michigan No-Fault Injury Lawyers
Insurance carriers like State Farm and Allstate hate claims involving vehicle maintenance. They often do whatever they can do get out of paying these cases. If you or a friend have any questions about injuries resulting from performing maintenance on a motor vehicle, please give me a call at 1-800-LEE-FREE. The call and consultation is free and there is no fee until we win your case.