Michigan No-Fault Personal Property Protection Benefits
Personal Property Protection benefits (PPI) are a third type of recovery that accident victims can recover. However, personal property protection benefits, unlike no-fault benefits, are only recoverable for accidental property damage not accidental bodily injury. Whereas no-fault benefits are paid by your own no-fault insurance company, PPI benefits, on the other hand, are paid by the insurance company that insures the motor vehicle involved in causing damage to your property. Also, PPI benefits are paid regardless of fault.
Are you entitled to Personal Property Protection benefits?
Whether you can recover PPI benefits is governed by M.C.L. 500.3121(1):
Under property protection insurance an insurer is liable to pay benefits for accidental damage to tangible property arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle subject to the provisions of this section and sections 3123, 3125, and 3127. However, accidental damage to tangible property does not include accidental damage to tangible property, other than the insured motor vehicle, that occurs within the course of a business of repairing, servicing, or otherwise maintaining motor vehicles.
A few notes to consider. First, PPI benefits are not recoverable for tangible property damage that occurs while your car is in the shop for repair. Second, there are a number of legal issues that arise from this statutory language, such as whether the damage “arose out of.” This is an issue that has been litigated over the years and only an expert Michigan car accident lawyer can properly assess whether in your case accidental property damage “arose out of” requirement in the statute.
What is considered “accidental”?
Pursuant to Section 3121(4):
Damage to tangible property is accidental, as to a person claiming property protection insurance benefits, unless it is suffered or caused intentionally by the claimant. Even though a person knows that damage to tangible property is substantially certain to be caused by his or her act or omission, he or she does not cause or suffer such damage intentionally if he or she acts or refrains from acting for the purpose of averting injury to any person, including himself or herself, or for the purpose of averting damage to tangible property.
Therefore, it’s clear that property damage will be considered as accidental unless it was intentionally caused by the personal claiming PPI benefits. But note that it is not considered to be intentional if you knowingly cause damage to your property if it happens while you act or refrain from acting in order to prevent injury to any person, including yourself, or to prevent damage to tangible property.
What can you recover for under PPI benefits?
Once you determine that you can recover personal property insurance benefits, the next question is how much and what can you recover. Section 3121(3) states that there are three types of damages recoverable under PPI benefits:
- Physical damage to tangible property
- Destruction of tangible property
- Loss of use of tangible property injured or destroyed
How much in PPI benefits can you recover?
The calculation of PPI benefits is determined under Section 3121(5), which states:
Property protection insurance benefits consist of the lesser of reasonable repair costs or replacement costs less depreciation and, if applicable, the value of loss of use. However, property protection insurance benefits paid under 1 policy for damage to all tangible property arising from 1 accident shall not exceed $1,000,000.00.
Reading this, it appears that PPI benefits calculations is an either or scenario. You will either be able to collect the cost of reasonable repair or replacement (less depreciation) or the value of the loss of use, whichever is less. Because, however, “depreciation” and “value of loss of use” is not defined in the statute, it’s important to speak with an expert Michigan car accident lawyer to fully understand how much you will be entitled to recover.
Exclusions to PPI benefits recovery
Commercial Facilities. As stated above, PIP benefits are not recoverable for damage to tangible property that occurs during the course of a business of repairing, servicing, or otherwise maintaining motor vehicles. This is governed by Section 3121(1).
Vehicles and Vehicle Contents. Under Section 3123(1)(a), damages to the following type of property are excluded from PPI benefits recovery:
Vehicles and their contents, including trailers, operated or designed for operation upon a public highway by power other than muscular power, unless the vehicle is parked in a manner as not to cause unreasonable risk of the damage which occurred.
This basically states that if your motor vehicle is parked in a way to cause an unreasonable risk of damage, then there is no recovery for PPI benefits. “Unreasonable risk” is an issue that has been and continues to be litigated and ruled on by Michigan courts. Consequently, it’s important to speak with an expert Michigan car accident lawyer to determine whether your parked vehicle created an unreasonable risk.
Household. Section 3123(1)(b) excludes damages to property that is:
Property owned by a person named in a property protection insurance policy, the person’s spouse or a relative of either domiciled in the same household, if the person named, the person’s spouse, or the relative was the owner, registrant, or operator of a vehicle involved in the motor vehicle accident out of which the property damage arose.
In other words, if you or one of your family members causes damage to the property owned by you or a family member, you will not be allowed to recover PPI benefits.
Out of state accidents. Section 3123(2) excludes PPI benefits for property damage that occurs outside of Michigan. However, because of the lack of case law on this exclusion, it’s best to consult with an expert Michigan car accident lawyer to determine whether you can still recover property protection benefits.
Utility lines. The final exclusion is found in Section 3123(3), which states that:
Property protection insurance benefits are not payable for property damage to utility transmission lines, wires, or cables arising from the failure of a municipality, utility company, or cable television company to comply with the requirements of section 16 of Act No. 368 of the Public Acts of 1925, being section 247.186 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.
Stolen Vehicles Not Excluded
According to the Michigan Supreme Court in the case Turner v. ACIA, there is not express or implied PPI benefits exclusion for vehicles that are stolen.
If you or someone you know recently suffered property damages as a result of a motor vehicle accident and you would like to know your rights and what you are entitled to recover, please set up a free case review with one of the leading expert car accident law firms in Michigan.