Paul E. Shibley practices primarily out of Michigan Auto Law’s Grand Rapids office. Paul is recognized as one of west Michigan’s most experienced auto accident attorneys, with more than 20 years of No Fault and motor vehicle accident litigation under his belt. This includes extensive trial experience focusing on auto negligence and first-party No Fault insurance litigation. Paul frequently speaks and lectures to Michigan attorneys on insurance company tactics and litigation and trial techniques.
An avid fisherman, Paul compares litigating cases against insurance companies these days to protecting his clients from a 1,000-pound bear – something he’s already faced in real life (see photo under interesting facts).
Paul has been named a Michigan Super Lawyer for multiple years, a special legal recognition awarded by attorney peer voting to a small percentage of attorneys. Paul also has been a Fellow of the Michigan Bar Foundation since 2009, an award conveyed to only 5% of all attorneys in Michigan. In addition, he’s recognized as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the country by the National Trial Lawyers Association.
Paul is an Executive Board Member of the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ), and one of the few Executive Board members from West Michigan representing civil and consumer attorneys for Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa Counties. Being a part of the MAJ and serving on the Executive Board allows Paul to be at the forefront of potential legal and political changes to Michigan’s No Fault Law.
Paul lives in downtown Grand Haven with his wife Erin and their young son. He says he has three true loves in his life – his wife Erin and his son, his love for people and protecting the people he represents in litigation and trial, and finally, his love of fly fishing and being an outdoorsman.
Paul takes protecting people seriously. He takes an annual one-week trip to remote Alaska to fish in areas also very popular with coastal Alaskan brown bears (which can weigh up to 1,000 pounds or more). Paul says this strikes a familiar chord to his dealing with many claims adjusters in his civil cases. He says, “If I can protect someone from a 1,000-pound brown bear, and that bear ain’t gonna get me, then dealing with the insurance company is a cake walk.”
Paul has also found that his hobby for amateur photography has many practical advantages when he’s at the office: It helps him to preserve high quality, trial ready photos of his clients’ injuries and the collision damage sustained by vehicles involved in motor vehicle accidents.
Paul has obtained substantial auto negligence jury verdicts throughout West Michigan. No other West Michigan attorney has had as many favorable auto accident jury verdicts over the past decade as Paul.
Paul has obtained verdicts significantly in excess of the insurance companies’ inadequate offers in the last four cases he’s tried in Kent County and Muskegon County. He’s concluded several multi-million dollar auto settlements that are covered by confidentiality provisions at his clients’ request and that cannot be described further below. Some of Paul’s non-confidential published recent trial successes include the following:
2014: Verdict in a combined auto negligence and first-party No Fault benefits case, Muskegon County Circuit Court. Nominal offer by insurance company because of argument that the plaintiff’s herniated discs in her spine were not proximately caused by the auto accident. The plaintiff was challenged by the insurance company, which argued that prior chiropractic treatment made it clear the condition predated the accident. Testimony from local treating doctors was believed by the jury as opposed to testimony from the doctors hired by the insurance company to defend the case, many of whom never even examined the plaintiff before issuing reports in favor of the insurance company’s denial of insurance benefits. The verdict included all outstanding medical expenses, wage loss and an award for pain and suffering vastly in excess of the insurance company award. Sanctions were awarded against the insurer and the total verdict with sanctions was paid by the insurer.
2012: Verdict in an uninsured motorist case, Muskegon County Circuit Court. The insurer offered zero dollars, claiming the injury was the result of a prior, severe injury to the same joint injured in the auto accident. A verdict with sanctions was paid by the insurer.
2012: Verdict in auto negligence case, Muskegon County Circuit Court. Verdict in highly contested case was three times the insurance company final settlement offer. The verdict was also paid with judgment interest.
2009: Verdict in a first-party No Fault benefits case, Muskegon County Circuit Court. Nominal offer. Case of first impression in Muskegon County – whether relatively new to the United States disk replacement spine surgery classifies as a medically appropriate treatment option in this country. In addition to arguing the accident did not cause the need for surgery, the insurance carrier also argued the surgery was experimental and was therefore, was not a medically appropriate form of treatment. As such, the insurer argued the law did not require them to pay for the procedure. The client may have been forced into bankruptcy if he was required to personally pay the nearly $50,000 surgery cost himself. The jury found in plaintiff’s favor and the insurer was assessed penalty interest and attorney fee sanctions. The verdict with sanctions was paid by the insurer.
Here are some of Paul’s notable settlements:
2014: $175,000 in Kent County auto accident for gentlemen injured in shopping plaza road, hit head-on in car accident by a young lady who was believed to have been texting or driving distracted.
2014: $175,000 in Kent County auto accident for client injured as a result of rear-end automobile accident.
2014: $112,500 in Ottawa County rear-end auto accident.
2012: $245,000 in Kent County for high school student who injured his back when the bus he was occupying struck something in the road. The student was propelled out of his seat and hurt his low back. Key testimony was admission by the bus driver, who said she had encountered the same condition the day before. An added difficulty in the case was the defendant’s governmental immunity legal challenge.
2012: $175,000 in Kent County for a truck accident that injured a young lady struck while in a ditch in a disabled car that spun out of control on snowy roads when a semi-truck also slid into the ditch. The defense was that the snowy roads created a “sudden emergency.” A meteorologist was hired who provided an opinion regarding the fact that the severe weather was not a sudden, unexpected condition.
2008: $500,000 in Muskegon County for a truck accident. A mother was driving her children to have Christmas portraits done when a truck doing snow plowing backed in front of her vehicle. Liability was strongly contested, as was the causal need for surgery by the auto insurer.
2005: $500,000 in Ottawa County for mother injured in a contested liability trucking accident. The semi- truck driver claimed in his deposition that the mother was speeding in her mini-van when he turned left in front of her out of a driveway. A difficult-to-locate witness was found during the legal investigation and testified that the truck driver was looking for his wallet, as she heard him say immediately after the accident.