Skip to main content
A Better Partnership
August 01, 2012

MSC Opinion: "Forbidden" drivers are not entitled to PIP benefits

In a consolidated opinion, the Michigan Supreme Court held that drivers who are injured while driving a vehicle that they were explicitly forbidden to drive are deemed to have "taken [that vehicle] unlawfully" and thus are not entitled to PIP benefits under the plain language of the No Fault Act. In reaching this decision, the Supreme Court decided that a person who violated the Michigan joyriding statute by taking a vehicle they have been forbidden to drive (by the owner) has taken that vehicle "unlawfully" even if there was no intent to steal. The Court also held that the rule extends to family members of the vehicle's owner. In reaching these determinations, the Supreme Court overruled the application appellate court authority that had adopted a "chain of permissive use theory" that had allowed PIP benefits where a vehicle's owner gave a third party permission to use the vehicle, and that third party in turn gave driving authority to the injured party. The Court held that this doctrine is irrelevant to the key question of whether the claimant took the vehicle unlawfully - meaning without the owner's permission. The Supreme Court also overruled a 1992 plurality opinion from the Supreme Court (and its progeny) that found a "family joyriding" exception to the unlawful taking prohibition, as not having a basis in the statutory language.

Justice Zahra authored the opinion, and was joined by Chief Justice Young, and Justices Markman and Mary Beth Kelly. Justices Cavanaugh and Marilyn Kelly and Hathaway dissented.

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

By clicking the ‘ACCEPT’ button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that our review of your information, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, does not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the ‘ACCEPT’ button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.



+ -