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Court Says Jeep Was Not a Car, But an Off-Road Vehicle

Michigan No-Fault Auto Insurance protects drivers, passengers, and pedestrians injured in accidents with motor vehicles. But the insurance companies recently won an appeal by claiming the Jeep in question was no longer a motor vehicle.

The plaintiff was seriously and permanently injured when his off-road vehicle (ORV) was hit by a modified 1976 Jeep. Modified being the key word. At the time of the crash the Jeep:

  • Had no operating head or tail lights;
  • Had no operating speedometer or odometer;
  • Had a fiberglass body instead of the stock metal body;
  • Had no wiring except for the steering column, ignition, and brakes;
  • Had no doors or rear-view mirror;
  • Had been equipped with a roll bar; and
  • Had been equipped with “expensive tires that were impractical for driving on a paved road because the tires would have been torn up and provided a “bumpy” ride.”

The Michigan Court of Appeals believed that these modifications transformed the Jeep into an off-road vehicle because it was no longer designed to operate on a public highway.

The Michigan No-Fault Insurance law requires drivers to carry insurance coverage on all motor vehicles “operated or designed for operation upon public highway.” But the definition includes several exceptions, including off-road vehicles.

The Jeep operator had insurance through Texas, but it was not No-Fault insurance. Out-of-state insurance companies are only required to pay for injuries ordinarily covered by no-fault insurance. Because the modified Jeep no longer counted as a motor vehicle, the out-of-state insurance company could not be required to pay under Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance law.

The insurance companies hire teams of lawyers to find any way possible to avoid paying claims. Whether it’s denying the severity of an injury or claiming the Jeep was not a car, you can expect a strong defense. That’s why it is so important to have No-Fault experts in your corner. David Christensen and his team at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan have been suing insurance companies for decades. They can help you get the recovery you need after an automobile accident. If you have been in a crash, contact Christensen Law for a consultation today.