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Could a Motorized Wheelchair Be a Motor Vehicle?

What is a car? Once again, the insurance companies are trying to change the rules regarding motor vehicles under the Michigan No-Fault Insurance statutes. Last week’s blog focused on when a Jeep was not a car. Now, the insurance companies are trying to claim that a motorized wheelchair is.

A local man was struck as he rode his mobility scooter across the road in Center Line, Michigan. The accident caused aggravation of his existing injuries. Now the man has $2 million in new medical bills and needs another surgery that could cost him another $150,000.

Accidents when pedestrians are struck by vehicles are covered under under Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance statutes. But when a person should have had insurance on a vehicle and doesn’t, that can prevent him or her from collecting damages from any insurance provider involved in the crash.

Now the insurance provider is claiming that the victim’s motorized wheelchair counts as a motor vehicle. Since he didn’t insure it, they want to get out of paying for his injuries.

Michigan insurance law defines a motor vehicle as:

A vehicle, including a trailer, operated or designed for operation upon a public highway by power other than muscular power which has more than 2 wheels.

It excludes motorcycles, mopeds, farm equipment, and off-road vehicles. The insurance company claims that because the scooter was operating on a public highway when it was struck, is motorized, and has 4 wheels, it must be a motor vehicle.

Elsewhere, state law explicitly excludeselectric personal assistive mobility devices” from the definition of motor vehicles. And courts have previously recognized people riding mobility scooters as pedestrians.

If the courts accept the insurance companies’ argument, the cost could be devastating to seniors and the disabled community. The cost to insure a vehicle is hundreds of dollars every year, and many of these populations are on fixed income – Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Disability Insurance (SSD). The added expense of insuring their motorized wheelchairs could cost many their mobility and independence.

The insurance companies will stop at nothing to avoid costs and increase their profits. This argument is just the latest in a series of attempts to deny victims coverage under their policies. If you find yourself up against insurance company lawyers, get the best people to stick up for you and your rights.

The experts at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan have been handling no-fault accident lawsuits for years. They may be able to help you get the money you need for your medical treatment. Contact David Christensen and his team today for a consultation.