Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Perkovic v. Zurich American Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Michigan

April 14, 2017

DRAGEN PERKOVIC, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued on application for leave to appeal December 7, 2016.

          Chief Justice: Stephen J. Markman, Justices: Robert P. Young, Jr. Brian K. Zahra Bridget M. McCormack David F. Viviano Richard H. Bernstein Joan L. Larsen.

         Syllabus

         Dragen Perkovic filed an amended complaint in the Wayne Circuit Court naming Zurich American Insurance Company as a defendant in an action seeking to recover no-fault personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits for injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident on February 28, 2009. At the time of the accident, Perkovic was operating a semitruck. Perkovic was treated for his injuries at The Nebraska Medical Center. On April 30, 2009, The Nebraska Medical Center sent Perkovic's medical records and associated bills to Zurich American, Perkovic's employer's insurance company. Zurich asserted that it had no injury report for Perkovic and on May 19, 2009, denied payment for Perkovic's medical treatment at The Nebraska Medical Center. Perkovic filed his initial complaint on August 11, 2009, seeking unpaid PIP benefits and naming his own automobile insurance company, Citizens Insurance Company of the Midwest, as a defendant. He later amended the complaint to add his bobtail insurer, Hudson Insurance Company, as a defendant. Perkovic did not add Zurich American as a defendant until March 25, 2010, about 13 months after the accident. Perkovic's claims against Citizens and Hudson were dismissed after the Court of Appeals, Stephens, P.J., and Owens and Murray, JJ., ruled that Zurich American was the highest-priority insurer. Perkovic v Hudson Ins Co, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued December 20, 2012 (Docket No. 302868). When the case returned to the trial court, Zurich American moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7), contending that Perkovic's claim was barred by the one-year limitations period in MCL 500.3145(1) because Zurich American had not received written notice of Perkovic's claim and had not paid any benefits on his behalf before the limitations period expired. Perkovic argued that The Nebraska Medical Center's correspondence with Zurich American constituted sufficient notice under MCL 500.3145(1). The trial court, Maria Oxholm, J., agreed with Zurich American and entered summary disposition in its favor. The Court of Appeals, Talbot, P.J., and Wilder and Fort Hood, JJ., affirmed. Perkovic v Zurich American Ins Co, 312 Mich.App. 244 (2015). Perkovic sought leave to appeal, and the Supreme Court ordered and heard oral argument on whether to grant his application for leave to appeal or take other action. 499 Mich. 935 (2016).

         In an opinion by Justice Bernstein, joined by Chief Justice Markman and Justices Zahra, McCormack, Viviano, and Larsen, the Supreme Court held:

         The statutory notice period for seeking no-fault benefits is satisfied when documentation containing all the information required by MCL 500.3145(1) is provided to a no-fault insurance company by the medical provider that treated the insured's injuries. In this case, The Nebraska Medical Center sent Perkovic's medical records and associated billing information to Zurich American. The documentation contained everything required by MCL 500.3145(1) to give notice to an insurer of an insured's claim for no-fault benefits. That is, the documentation sent to Zurich American included the claimant's name and address, the name of the person injured, and the time, place, and nature of the injuries. MCL 500.3145(1) does not include a requirement that the notice expressly state that the information is being provided to support a potential claim for no-fault benefits. The statute requires that notice be given in writing within one year after the accident causing injury, and it states that notice may be given by the person entitled to benefits- the insured-or by a person in the insured's behalf. Contrary to the Court of Appeals' conclusion that notice of injury must inform an insurer of the possible pendency of a claim for no-fault benefits, giving an insurer notice that a claimant may pursue a no-fault action for unpaid benefits is not required by MCL 500.3145(1). Nor does proper notice under MCL 500.3145(1) require that an insured presently be making a claim for no-fault benefits. It only mattered that Zurich American received the information required by MCL 500.3145(1) within one year of the accident. Because Zurich American received the records from The Nebraska Medical Center within one year of the accident, Perkovic's amended complaint against Zurich American filed 13 months after the accident was not barred by the statute of limitations.

         Reversed and remanded. Trial court's summary disposition order vacated.

         Justice Young, dissenting, largely agreed with the reasoning of the majority opinion but disagreed with its outcome. Although Zurich American received notice that Perkovic had received medical treatment from The Nebraska Medical Center, the notice was not sent in behalf of an insured who was, at that time, claiming that he was entitled to no-fault benefits. The notice Zurich American received did not clearly communicate that Perkovic was making a claim for PIP benefits; instead, the notice could have been interpreted as seeking other benefits under the insurance policy. The notice in this case was not given by either someone claiming to be entitled to no-fault benefits or someone acting in his behalf. Justice Young would have affirmed the result reached by the Court of Appeals because summary disposition was properly granted in Zurich American's favor.

         BEFORE THE ENTIRE BENCH

          OPINION

          BERNSTEIN, J.

         This case concerns the notice requirements of the no-fault act, MCL 500.3101 et seq., specifically those set forth in MCL 500.3145(1). The question before us is whether a nonparty medical provider's provision of medical records and associated bills to an injured person's no-fault insurer within one year of the accident causing injury constitutes proper written notice under MCL 500.3145(1), so as to prevent the one-year statute of limitations in MCL 500.3145(1) from barring the injured person's subsequent no-fault claim. We hold that when, as in this case, the documentation provided by the medical provider contains all of the information required by MCL 500.3145(1) and is provided to the insurer within one year of the accident, the statutory notice requirement is satisfied and the injured person's claim is not barred by the statute of limitations. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, vacate the trial court's order granting summary disposition in favor of defendant Zurich American Insurance Company, and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On February 28, 2009, plaintiff Dragen Perkovic was operating a semitruck in Nebraska when he swerved to avoid hitting a car that had spun out in front of him. Plaintiff's truck then crashed into a wall. Plaintiff's resulting injuries were treated at The Nebraska Medical Center. At the time of the accident, plaintiff maintained personal automobile insurance with Citizens Insurance Company of the Midwest (Citizens) and a bobtail insurance policy[1] with Hudson Insurance Company (Hudson). Plaintiff's employer was insured by defendant Zurich American Insurance Company.

         On April 30, 2009, staff at The Nebraska Medical Center mailed a bill for the services it had provided, as well as plaintiff's medical records, to defendant. A custodian of records and billing for The Nebraska Medical Center explained by affidavit that the bills and records were sent to defendant on plaintiff's behalf in order to obtain payment for the services provided in relation to plaintiff's accident-related injuries. The medical bills and records both contained plaintiff's name and address. The medical records also provided the following summary:

46 yo male semi truck driver c/o R upper back pain after MVC. States that he was driving down interstate when car in front of him began to spin[;] he swerved to avoid the car since in semi and ran into a wall hitting front[]driver side.

         The records further stated that plaintiff may have suffered a "back sprain, cervical sprain or fracture, chest wall contusion, contusion, head injury, liver injury, myocardial contusion, pneumothorax, splenic injury, sprained or fractured extremity."

         On May 19, 2009, defendant denied payment for the services, returning the bill and records to the sender stamped with the following statement: "No injury report on file for this person."

         On August 11, 2009, plaintiff filed suit under the no-fault act, seeking unpaid personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits arising out of the February 28 accident. The initial complaint filed in the trial court only named Citizens, plaintiff's personal insurer, as a defendant. Plaintiff later amended the complaint to add Hudson, the bobtail insurer, as a defendant. Plaintiff did not amend his complaint to add defendant as a party until March 25, 2010, approximately thirteen months after the accident. Some confusion arose as to which of the insurers was highest in priority, but ultimately the Court of Appeals concluded that defendant was the highest-priority insurer. See Perkovic v Hudson Ins Co, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued December 20, 2012 (Docket No. 302868). The claims against the other insurers were then dismissed.

         When the case returned to the trial court, defendant filed a motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7), arguing that plaintiff's claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations in MCL 500.3145(1) because defendant had not received written notice of the claim or paid any benefits before the limitations period expired. Plaintiff contended that the medical bills and records from The Nebraska Medical Center satisfied the notice requirements of MCL 500.3145(1), but the trial court disagreed and granted defendant's motion for summary disposition in an opinion and order dated February 20, 2014. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's ruling in a published opinion. Perkovic v Zurich American Ins Co, 312 Mich.App. 244; 876 N.W.2d 839');">876 N.W.2d 839 (2015).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         We review de novo questions of statutory interpretation. Jesperson v Auto Club Ins Ass'n, 499 Mich. 29, 34; 878 N.W.2d 799 (2016). When interpreting a statute, the primary rule of construction is to discern and give effect to the Legislature's intent, the most reliable indicator of which is the clear and unambiguous language of the statute. Id. We enforce such language as written, giving effect to every word, phrase, and clause. Id. We also review de novo the grant or denial of a motion for summary disposition. Id.

         III. ANALYSIS

         The no-fault act allows a person injured in an automobile accident to recover PIP benefits for certain reasonably necessary expenses incurred for the care, recovery, and rehabilitation of the injured person. MCL 500.3107(1)(a). This ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.