On August 1, 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court restored common sense to Michigan's auto accident law with its ruling on McCormick v. Carrier. The car accident lawsuit McCormick v. Carrier overturned the controversial Kreiner v Fischer “serious impairment of body function” threshold case, returning important legal rights to potentially hundreds of Michigan car accident victims who were told they did not have a case under Kreiner.
The McCormick v. Carrier decision reestablishes the proper interpretation of the clear and unambiguous language in the No-Fault Act's MCL 500.3135 by creating the following test for anyone in Michigan who has been injured in a car accident.
As of August 2, 2010, this is Michigan’s new “serious impairment of body function” law according to McCormick v. Carrier:
Step 1: To begin with, the court should determine whether there is a factual dispute regarding the nature and the extent of the person’s injuries, and, if so, whether the dispute is material to determining whether the serious impairment of body function threshold is met. MCL 500.3135(2)(a)(i) and (ii). If there is no factual dispute, or no material factual dispute, then whether the threshold is met is a question of law for the court.
Step 2: If the court may decide the issue as a matter of law, it should next determine whether the serious impairment threshold has been crossed. The unambiguous language of MCL 500.3135(7) provides three prongs that are necessary to establish a “serious impairment of body function”
Step 3: If a car accident lawyer can prove the three requirements below, the personal injury victim will have a pain and suffering case in Michigan.
(1) an objectively manifested impairment (observable or perceivable from actual symptoms or conditions)
(2) of an important body function (a body function of value, significance or consequence to the person with the personal injury) that
(3) affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life (in other words, influences some of the plaintiff’s capacity to live in his or her normal manner of living).
Step 4: It's important for car accident lawyers in Michigan to remember that legal recovery after an auto accident is inherently fact- and circumstance- specific to each injured person, and must be conducted on a case-by-case basis.
As stated in McCormick v. Carrier, “[t]he Legislature recognized that what is important to one is not important to all[;] a brief impairment may be devastating whereas a near permanent impairment may have little effect.” As such, the analysis does not “lend itself to any bright-line rule or imposition of [a] non-exhaustive list of factors,” particularly where there is no basis in the statute for such factors. Id. Accordingly, because “[t]he Legislature avoided drawing lines in the sand . . . so must we.”
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