Michigan’s no-fault law requires injuries to be objectively manifested. That poses a special problem for victims of traumatic brain injury, as the vast majority of brain injuries are not objectively manifested. This does not mean the brain injuries are not serious, however.
The fact that the vast majority of brain injuries are not objectively manifested only means that today’s medical technology cannot visualize most brain injuries that fall within the mild to moderate medical classification.
Recognizing that victims of traumatic brain injury often have symptoms and deficits that are not detectable, the Michigan Legislature created the “closed-head injury exception” that applies to all other people who have suffered personal injury as the result of auto accidents.
The closed-head injury exception for traumatic brain injury can be found in MCL 500.3135(2)(a)(ii) and states:
…for a closed-head injury, a question of fact for the jury is created if a licensed allopathic or osteopathic physician who regularly diagnoses or treats closed-head injuries testifies under oath that there may be a serious neurological injury.
Because of the closed-head injury exception, people with traumatic brain injury who have a normal MRI or CT scan of the brain — which is the vast majority of traumatic brain injury sufferers — still have a case under Michigan law.
The closed-head injury exception does not require a traumatic brain injury to be objectively manifested, as long as a doctor who regularly diagnoses or treats people with traumatic brain injury states that there may be a serious neurological injury.
TBI lawyers in Michigan must prepare an affidavit from a treating doctor (not a neuropscyhologist) to survive a summary disposition motion. The exception requires testimony or an affidavit from a licensed doctor (M.D. or D.O.) who regularly diagnoses or treats head injuries. The doctor must testify that the plaintiff “may [have] a serious neurological injury.”
But despite the plain language of the closed-head injury exception, a claim might not survive summary disposition, even with a qualified doctor’s affidavit diagnosing a traumatic brain injury.
Using our TBI attorneys’ advice on handling Michigan traumatic brain injury cases, Michigan accident attorneys can better anticipate pitfalls and defense attorney tactics.
Michigan Auto Law partner Steven Gursten is a member of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brain Injury Group and lectures on traumatic brain injuries throughout the country. If you are an attorney and would like to refer a Michigan traumatic brain injury case, please contact Michigan Auto Law.
If you or someone you know has suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident or truck accident in Michigan, we can guide you through the complicated requirements of Michigan’s closed-head injury exception and help obtain the insurance benefits and pain and suffering compensation you need. Because our lawyers have been handling traumatic brain injury cases for more than 50 years, we understand the physical, emotional and psychological hardships that TBI victims experience from automobile accidents. Please call Michigan Auto Law at (800) 777-0028 for a case evaluation with no fee or obligation, or fill out our free consultation form.
Did our Michigan traumatic brain injury lawyers answer all of your questions about the closed-head injury exception? If not, please contact us and we can help.