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“Direct Physical Contact” – The Vehicle, the Whole Vehicle, and Nothing but the Vehicle

Motor Vehicle Litigation / January 22, 2021

Rozenberg v Auto Club Insurance Company is an unpublished opinion, and therefore is not binding authority. Unpublished decisions may be used as persuasive authority in the lower courts.

The Court of Appeals re-affirmed that a “motor vehicle” under the No-Fault Act means the vehicle as a whole, not just a part. A stray part that was once a piece of a vehicle is not a motor vehicle. Thus, policy language requiring “direct physical contact” means the two vehicles much touch.

There is a difference between policy language that requires “direct physical contact” and simply “physical contact” for uninsured motorist benefits. “Physical contact” can be direct or indirect. Indirect physical contact could be established by inferring that an object came from a vehicle. However, a substantial physical nexus must exist between the vehicle, the object, and the insured vehicle.

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