If it Looks Like a Jeep, Drives Like a Jeep, Court Rules it Might Not be a Jeep (Motor Vehicle)

I noticed an old Jeep the other day that was parked on a trail with its doors removed, a fire extinguisher rolling around, holes in the floor, seats torn out and huge wheels.

Off Road Jeep PhotoIt got me thinking. At what point does that Jeep stop becoming a “motor vehicle” under Michigan’s no-fault act?  Well, coincidentally, the Michigan Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue where a Jeep was described as follows:

“[A]t the time of the accident, the head lights, tail lights, turn signals, speedometer, and odometer on the Jeep were not ‘hooked up.’ The original metal shell had been removed from the Jeep and replaced with a fiberglass shell and, except for the steering column, ignition, and brakes, the wiring was not reconnected. In addition, the Jeep did not have doors or a rearview mirror. Finally, the Jeep was equipped with a roll bar and had 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 court ultimately held that the Jeep that was not a “motor vehicle” under MCL 500.3101(2)(e) and was in fact an off-road vehicle.  Therefore, the plaintiff was not entitled to PIP benefits.

The facts of each particular case are essential. That is why adjusters should make every effort to take a detailed statement from claimants because in the end, if it’s on a trail and it looks like the Jeep described above, you may not even be dealing with a motor vehicle.

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