Key Points In This Article
- People injured in a stolen vehicle can obtain Michigan no-fault benefits as well as pain and suffering compensation against the person who caused the crash.
- If you are hit by a stolen vehicle, then the insurance carrier for that vehicle will most likely not pay the claim.
- This author advises everyone to purchase uninsured motorist UM insurance coverage.
- If you take a vehicle unlawfully, and you know it was unlawful to take the vehicle when you took it, then you are not eligible for Michigan no-fault benefits.
Can A Person In A Stolen Car Get Compensation in Michigan?
Our law office will periodically get calls from individuals injured in a Michigan car crash when a stolen vehicle is involved. Often, the injuries can be quite significant. Individuals injured in a stolen vehicle can obtain Michigan no-fault benefits. They can also obtain pain and suffering compensation against the individual who caused the crash.
But there are few things to consider. First, if you are hit by a stolen vehicle, then the insurance carrier for that vehicle will most likely not pay the claim. This is because insurance carriers don’t have to pay claims when permission was not granted by the owner to the driver to use the car. When this happens, the injured person can still turn to their own car insurance for compensation by making a claim for uninsured motorist (UM) benefits.
Uninsured motorist benefits are not required by law, so it is something you have to purchase as part of your car insurance policy. I advise everyone to purchase UM coverage. Generally, it is really cheap. It is also vital in an era when so many Michigan motorists are driving around without insurance.
If you care injured in a Michigan car crash and a stolen vehicle is involved, you can also make a claim for Michigan personal injury protection (PIP) no-fault benefits. These benefits include the payment of medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket costs and other items. No-fault benefits will come from your own car insurance if you have insurance, or another carrier if you don’t have insurance.
What Happens If It Is You Using the Stolen Car?
Can you get compensation then? The answer depends on your own culpability and your knowledge of it being a stolen car at the time of the accident.
Stolen Vehicles and Michigan No-Fault Benefits:
Under MCL 500.3113, a person cannot obtain PIP benefits, if at the time of the accident, the person was using the car which he or she had taken unlawfully, and the person knew or should have known that the motor vehicle was taken unlawfully.
So if you (1) were using or took a vehicle unlawfully; and (2) knew or should have known the car was taken unlawfully when the crash occurred, then you cannot obtain no-fault benefits.
This rule was recently analyzed by the Michigan Court of Appeals following a Wayne County car crash.
In Myers v. Enterprise Leasing Co. of Detroit (docket no. 343325, unpublished 10/17/2019), the plaintiff took possession of an Enterprise rental vehicle reportedly without the permission of the individual who rented the car. The plaintiff then gave the vehicle to her boyfriend, who subsequently got into an accident, injuring the plaintiff.
Analyzing a recent Michigan Supreme Court case that addressed a similar situation where a person took a car without the owner’s permission, Spectrum Health Hosps v. Farm Bureau Mutual Ins., 492 Mich 503; 821 NW2d 117 (2202), the Court found that a person who takes a vehicle contrary to a provision of the Michigan Penal Code, in particular the Michigan joyriding statutes, has taken the vehicle unlawfully and cannot obtain Michigan PIP benefits.
In analyzing the facts of this case, the Court held that the joyriding statutes applied to this situation, and therefore the plaintiff could not obtain Michigan no-fault benefits from Enterprise. The car rental agreement only allowed the plaintiff’s mother to use the car. According to their view of the facts, the majority found that the plaintiff took the vehicle without her mother’s authorization. Further, they found the plaintiff did this with a full understanding that she could not use this rental vehicle but did so anyway.
Because she was using a vehicle she had taken without permission, and had done so with knowledge, she was not entitled to PIP benefits from Enterprise for her Michigan car crash injuries.
The dissent in this case took a different view. The dissent found there was reason to believe that the plaintiff did not realize she did not have permission to take the vehicle. Because there were some questions as to whether she had permission, the trial judge should not have dismissed her case and a jury should have decided the issue.
The important thing to remember is that if you take a vehicle unlawfully, and you know it was unlawful to take the vehicle when you took it, then you are not eligible for Michigan no-fault benefits. However, if you are a passenger in a stolen vehicle, and you had no reason to know it was a stolen at the time of the crash, you can still obtain Michigan no-fault benefits and money for our car wreck injuries.
The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg are experts in Michigan car crash injury law. We have helped thousands of clients over the years get their life back together. Our dedicated team of lawyers and legal professionals are standing by waiting to answer your questions. Call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). The call is free and there is no fee until we win your case.