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Page Graves
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No-fault PIP Benefit Claim Enforceable Without Written Notice of Claim Having Been Filed

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 Jesperson v Auto Club Ins Ass’n, ___ Mich ___ (2016)(Docket No. 150332, dated March 21, 2016).  In Jesperson, the injured person never submitted to the liable no-fault insurer, written notice of his no-fault PIP claim.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, more than a year after the accident, ACIA began paying PIP benefits for Jesperson and then after a period of time, terminated his benefits.  Jesperson filed suit and ACIA (a/k/a AAA Michigan) defended the claim per MCL 500.3145(1), citing the introductory sentence that says “An action for recovery of personal protection insurance benefits payable under this chapter for accidental bodily injury may not be commenced later than 1 year after the date of the accident causing the injury unless written notice of injury as provided here has been given to the insurer within 1 year after the accident or unless the insurer has previously made a payment or personal protection benefits for the injury.”  ACIA reasoned that because Jesperson never filed written notice within 1 year of his injury, his claim was barred.  In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice McCormick, the Court disagreed with ACIA’s interpretation of the statute, reasoning that the article “or” chosen by the Legislature modified the sentence into two (2) independent exceptions to the general rule.  An action may be brought if (1) the claimant files written notice within a year (a/k/a the “notice” exception); or (2) if the insurer pays a PIP benefit at any time before the action was commenced (a/k/a the “payment” exception).  PIP benefits have been ordered to be restored to Mr. Jesperson.

Authored by L. Page Graves

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