Michigan court holds that driver who stepped out of vehicle and was injured was not an "occupant" for purposes of PIP coverage

A truck driver for a Michigan company, driving in Georgia was seriously injured when he was injured investigating a fire near the rear of the truck. The driver then sought benefits under a Personal Injury Policy (PIP) issued to the truck owner R-1 Express, by Sentry Insurance. Odeh v. Sentry Ins., No. 337648, 2018 WL 1403572 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 20, 2018).

Under the PIP benefits section of the policy, when an accident occurs out of state, coverage only applied to a named insured on the policy or to an “occupant” of the vehicle. Since the policy explicitly named R-1 Express as the only insured, the PIP benefits were unavailable to the injured driver under this portion of the policy. Furthermore, because the driver was injured when he stepped outside of the truck to inspect the fire, he could not be considered an “occupant” either. This is an example of how courts will often strictly adhere to the terms of an insurance policy. The injured driver was thus owed no benefits under the PIP policy.

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