Steve Sinas Argues Out-of-State No-Fault Case at Michigan Supreme Court


On November 19, 2018, Stephen Sinas argued an out-of-state no-fault case at Michigan Supreme Court. Sinas Dramis appellate attorney, Joel Finnell, took the leading role on the appellate briefing.

The issue in the case was whether our clients, who are Michigan residents, could recover no-fault insurance benefits when they were injured in a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Florida. Furthermore, they occupied a vehicle purchased and used exclusively in Florida at the time of the accident. This vehicle was insured under a Florida insurance policy. However, our clients had no-fault insurance coverage that covered several vehicles they used in Michigan.

Home-Owners Insurance Company v Jankowski from Sinas Dramis Law Firm

Stephen argued that Michigan no-fault insurance coverage provides no-fault benefits to those injured in motor vehicle accidents regardless of whether the vehicle involved is specifically insured under a no-fault policy or not. In this regard, Michigan no-fault insurance follows the person and not the vehicle. This is why we can recover no-fault benefits when we are injured in motor vehicle accidents outside Michigan. Examples include injuries in rental cars, as passengers in friend’s out-of-state vehicles, or hit as a pedestrian or bicyclist in another state, to name a few.


Steve Sinas (left) & Joel Finnell (right)

The no-fault insurance company involved in this particular case argued that our clients should be disqualified from no-fault insurance benefits because they were using a vehicle that they owned and that did now have Michigan no-fault insurance coverage. However, under the statutory language of the disqualification provision of the Michigan No-Fault Act that the insurance company was relying on, in order for our clients to be disqualified from benefits, it must be proven that the vehicle they used exclusively in Florida was required to be registered in Michigan.

In response, Stephen argued that the vehicle registration rules under the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code were never intended to apply to vehicles not ever used in Michigan. Therefore, Michigan vehicle registration was not required for our client’s Florida vehicle. If our clients weren’t required to register their Florida vehicle in Michigan, they, therefore, cannot be disqualified from no-fault benefits.

After several months of deliberating, the Supreme Court ultimately voted not to decide this case and issued an Order denying leave to appeal.  This leaves the question of out-of-state vehicle registration unresolved.  It should be noted, however, that the Michigan Secretary of State’s website advises that only vehicles driven on Michigan roads must be registered in Michigan.