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Do I Have a Case?

November 25, 2008 by Steven M. Gursten

I recently taught a Michigan no-fault law class at Cooley Law School about third-party claims, or, in other words, suing the insurance company of the person who caused a car accident. I listed several examples to show the future lawyers how Michigan’s auto accident law, specifically Kreiner v. Fischer, discriminates against different types of people with its serious impairment of body function threshold — even when they sustain essentially identical personal injuries from car accidents.

The good news is, Kreiner may be revisited and reversed by the Michigan Supreme Court, now that Judge Diane Hathaway has replaced Chief Judge Cliff Taylor. If that happens, thousands of people who were seriously injured in auto accidents throughout Michigan, and subsequently told they have no case by Michigan lawyers, would have a second chance.

The following are real examples of how people hurt in car accidents have been affected by Michigan law. Our law discriminates against the disabled, those who work at home and those who try going back to work even with severe pain. They have a far more difficult time under Michigan’s current accident threshold law. With a hopeful change in Michigan’s car accident laws, these people may have an easier time obtaining pain and suffering compensation and needed automobile insurance no-fault benefits.

Construction Worker – Off Work Post Accident

When I was on my way to my construction job, I was rear-ended in a car accident in Detroit. I suffered a badly broken leg and had to have surgery. Now I cannot stand on my leg or do any type of physical, manual work. I missed a little over a year from work due to my injuries. Even though my personal injury met the serious impairment of body function threshold, Kreiner didn’t affect my case at all. My lawyer settled for policy limits.

Lawyer – Working Post Accident

I was also in a rear-end car accident. I suffered the exact same broken leg that required surgery. As a lawyer, a broken leg really doesn’t stop me from doing my job, where I basically sit at a desk and use a phone and a computer. I missed a couple days from work after the accident and a couple days after my surgery. I’m trying to make partner in my law firm, so I have tried to miss as little work as possible, even though I’m in a lot of pain and substantial pain medication for my injury. Trying to make partner monopolizes my time, so I have no hobbies or recreational activities. The insurance company’s lawyer filed a motion for summary disposition (a dismissal of the case prior to trial) on serious impairment of body function. The court granted it, and I got nothing for my car accident case.

Stay-At-Home Mom

I was in a car accident and I suffered the same broken leg and surgery. As a married, stay-at-home mom, I have live-in help for the kids. My accident lawyer is afraid to file a personal injury lawsuit for me. He says that Michigan has a very unfair auto law and people are treated differently: That if you are a stay-at-home parent, very old, very young or in school, it’s much harder to show a serious impairment than if you are in the workforce and miss a lot of time from work because of your injuries.

Not Employed – On Social Security Disability

I was in a car accident and I sustained the same broken leg and underwent the same surgery. But I was on social security disability before my car accident, due to a pre-existing disability. I don’t work, and I don’t have any physical activities or hobbies that my new broken leg has stopped me from doing. Therefore, I got nothing from my car accident.

The four individuals I discussed above are examples of the countless people who have been seriously injured and had their lives devastated by auto accidents in Michigan. If the new Michigan Supreme Court reverses the law, there will be enormous and wonderful consequences for people like this. I will write another blog with four more examples of cases that are constantly thrown out because of this unfair law.

Related information:

Michigan Lawyer Blog: 38 Worst Judicial Travesties of the Michigan Supreme Court

Michigan Lawyer Video: Auto Accident Third-Party Litigation

10 Things to Know if you are Injured in a Car Crash

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights.

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