How TBI Victims In Michigan Can Get To A Jury
The “Automatic” Route of the Closed-Head Injury Exception
Michigan courts have interpreted the language in 500.3135(2)(a)(ii) as “automatically” entitling a person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury to get to a jury if a properly qualified doctor testifies that there may be a serious neurological injury.
Several appellate cases have held that if a qualified doctor testifies “that there may be a serious neurological injury,” there is automatically a jury question. This comports with the plain language of the closed-head injury exception in the statute, allowing Michigan lawyers to help TBI victims “automatically” reach a jury.
The automatic route was created for victims of traumatic brain injury because otherwise, most car accident victims would not be able to have their cases heard in court under Michigan’s difficult threshold law that applies to all other automobile accident cases.
Michigan law requires any victim of a car accident or truck accident to demonstrate a “serious impairment of body function.” The law is defined under MCL 500.3135 as follows:
(1) A person remains subject to tort liability for non-economic loss caused by his or her ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle only if the injured person has suffered death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.
Michigan automobile accident attorneys must prove three points to meet the “serious impairment of body function” threshold under MCL 500.3135:
- The plaintiff has an objectively manifested impairment.
- The impairment affects an important body function.
- The impairment affects the plaintiff’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.
Most brain injuries fall within the “mild” to “moderate” classification range. Regardless, medical classification of these injuries has very little to do with the effects on the person who has suffered a brain injury. A mild or moderate traumatic brain injury can cause permanent impairment, disability — even death.
Additionally, almost all brain injuries in the mild or moderate range are not manifested on a CT scan or an MRI. Therefore, victims of brain injury would always fail the first prong of Michigan’s automobile accident threshold law, because traumatic brain injuries would not be “objectively manifested.”
The automatic route still allows car accident victims with traumatic brain injuries to have their day in court.
But Michigan lawyers should not expect to get past summary judgment by relying only on the automatic route. Judges may still erroneously require a plaintiff to show that there may be a closed-head or traumatic brain injury and how the brain injury affects the plaintiff’s life.
Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers of Michigan Auto Law
Michigan Auto Law attorney and principal Steven Gursten is President of the American Association for Justice’s 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 at (800) 777-0028.
If you or someone you know has suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident or truck accident in Michigan, our TBI lawyers 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 automatic route of the closed-head injury exception? If not, please contact us and we can help.