After the serious Greyhound bus accident in Galesburg, MI, experienced bus accident attorney discusses how Canadian and out-of-state bus passengers can collect No Fault PIP benefits
On August 2, 2013, a Greyhound bus originating from Toronto and en-route to Chicago rear-ended a semi-trailer on I-94, in Galesberg, Michigan. As a result, 22 people were injured in the bus-truck crash, according to The Times Herald.
The Port Huron-based newspaper reported that the bus driver was pinned in the wreckage and had to be extracted by a rescue team, and a front-seat passenger was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
This past week, I received a phone call from someone from Canada who was injured in the bus crash, and it raises a few tricky legal questions, such as: Can an out-of-state passenger on a bus, such as a Canadian citizen, collect Michigan No Fault insurance benefits?
So there were further questions that were raised on my phone call:
- What happens next when a non-Michigan-resident passenger (such as the gentleman from Canada who called my office) is injured?
- Will he or she be able to collect Michigan No Fault insurance benefits?
- If they are Canadian, should they elect to collect Michigan No Fault insurance benefits? (The short answer for Canadians injured in Michigan in automobile accidents is, in most cases, yes.)
Let’s start with the first question, regarding whether a non-resident can collect Michigan No Fault PIP benefits. The answer is yes, but only if either of the following facts are true (see MCL 500.3113(c)):
- The bus was registered in Michigan; or,
- The injured passenger’s out-of-state auto insurer “has filed a certification in compliance with section 3163.”
If the Greyhound bus that was involved in the Galesburg rear-end collision described above had been registered in Michigan, then its injured out-of-state passengers would be entitled to collect full No Fault PIP benefits “from the insurer of the motor vehicle,” i.e., the bus’s insurer. (MCL 500.3114(2))
However, the bus’s insurer would be liable to pay No Fault insurance benefits, also known as PIP or personal injury protection benefits, only if the “passenger is not entitled to personal protection insurance under any other policy,” i.e., a Michigan No Fault auto insurance in which the passenger, his or her spouse or a resident relative is listed as a “named insured.” (MCL 500.3114(2))
Under MCL 500.3163 of the Michigan No Fault Law, all auto insurers who are authorized to do business in Michigan must file a “3163” certification.
By filing the certification, a No Fault auto insurer guarantees that, if one of its insureds from “out-of-state” is injured in a Michigan car, truck or bus accident, then the auto insurer will pay for and provide Michigan No Fault benefits to the “out-of-state resident.” (MCL 500.3163(1))
However, No Fault benefits paid as a result of “3163 certification” will be limited to $500,000 if the “out-of-state resident was not an occupant of a motor vehicle registered in this state.” (MCL 500.3163(4))
Accordingly, if the Greyhound bus was not registered in Michigan, then the injured Canadian passengers and the other out-of-state passengers who were on the bus are still entitled to collect No Fault, but no more than $500,000 worth of No Fault benefits.
Still, that certainly beats out the No Fault and insurance benefits available under any other state, and is a better choice in almost all cases for Canadians injured in Michigan who may have to pursue a lawsuit for pain and suffering damages and compensation.
Canadian passengers in bus accidents
Because the Greyhound bus involved in the Galesburg rear-end collision was traveling from Toronto to Chicago, it’s likely that some of the injured out-of-state passengers were Canadian.
If an injured Canadian bus passenger wanted to collect Michigan No Fault benefits, rather than pursue a claim for No Fault benefits through Canada’s insurance system, there are two circumstances under which that could happen:
- The passenger’s Canadian auto insurance company is “certified” under MCL 500.3163 in Michigan.
- The passenger is covered by an Ontario auto insurance policy which allows her to “elect” to collect Michigan No-Fault benefits.
For more, please check out Michigan Auto Law’s blog post, “Can a Canadian driver collect Michigan No-Fault benefits after a car accident in Michigan?”