Truck insurance must pay for plane crash

| Friday, December 23, 2005

Imagine you're driving down the road, minding your own business, when a small plane trying to make a landing on a nearby grass airstrip bounces off your truck, flips over and lands upside down in the field.

It happened to driver Kevin Gould of Sand Lake, MI. And as amazing as it is that everybody involved was unhurt, what's equally amazing is the fact that the company that insures Gould's truck has to pay for the damages to the plane.

At first, Gould said he was just grateful to be alive. He told The Grand Rapids Press that only one thought passed through his head as he saw the plane coming toward him: “I'm done.”

As it turns out, he was a long way from done. And so was the battle over just who should pay for the damage to the plane.

The collision happened in 2003, and since then two courts – a district court and the Kent County Circuit Court – have ruled that Cincinnati Insurance Co., the insurer of Gould's truck, must pay the damages.

The Press reported that the most recent ruling, which was handed down in early December, was based on the argument that Michigan's no-fault insurance codes require compensation in property-damage cases that occur between a vehicle designed to operate on a highway and something that is not when the collision does not occur on a highway.

In other words, Gould's vehicle is designed for highway driving, the plane isn't. The Press reported that J. Paul Janes, the attorney representing the owners of the plane, argued that, because the plane only touched the truck and not the highway, the accident did not occur on the highway.

The circuit court judge agreed, and now Cincinnati Insurance must pay $18,000 in damages for the 1974 Cessna that was totaled in the crash.

Dean Wall, founder of Sand Lake-based Dean's Landscaping and owner of the truck Gould was driving, told The Press that he still can't believe the ruling.

“I think it's absolutely absurd and asinine,” he said. “It's unbelievable.”

An attorney for the insurance company said a further appeal is unlikely.

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