Michigan truck accident lawyers Bobby Raitt and Alison Tomak beat Liberty Mutual MIST defense at trial
Yesterday, my partner Bobby Raitt and associate attorney Alison Tomak did a terrific job for a seriously injured client. A Macomb County jury returned a verdict just shy of a million dollars on a truck accident case that the auto insurance company for the defendant, Liberty Mutual, tactically decided to take a very tough position on.
The personal injury lawsuit is notable for a couple reasons. Our client is a super nice guy, and was only 28 years old when the crash took place in Roseville, Michigan. He had absolutely no prior or pre-existing injury or complaints of low back pain. Pain started almost immediately after he was involved in a crash with a truck, became progressively worse, and ultimately required a low back fusion surgery.
Nevertheless, the auto insurance company decided to take a very aggressive defense. The defense attorneys focused on the lack of visible vehicle damage to the car, disputed liability even though a police officer and independent eyewitness said the truck driver clearly caused the truck accident, and essentially suggested to the jury the client was faking or exaggerating his back injury. The insurance company even hired surveillance investigators on almost a dozen different occasions to spy on him and follow him around (finding nothing, of course).
The “MIST” defense in car and truck accident cases
This defense is commonly referred to as the MIST defense – MIST standing for minimal impact, soft tissue. Automobile insurance companies sometimes try to deliberately and more aggressively defend these cases, believing a jury will not accept that such serious personal injuries can result from relatively low damage accidents.
The science is very clear on this: The MIST defense is utter nonsense. People have been seriously and catastrophically injured, even killed, in very low damage accidents, and other people have walked away from car crashes where vehicles have been completely totaled. A quick search will return dozens of studies showing no correlation between injury and vehicle damage.
Yet so many personal injury lawyers still get very discouraged from helping accident victims injured in low damage cases. Other personal injury lawyers will settle them at substantial discounts to their true value, because they’re afraid of the insurance companies. Nevertheless, the lesson for all personal injury lawyers is clear: there is no reason to be deterred by this speculative, and factually inaccurate insurance company defense. A solid case, a deserving client, and a defendant insurance company who is refusing to take responsibility is one that should be tried, not shied away from.
The Macomb County jury myth
Since Michigan Auto Law opened its Macomb County law office in Sterling Heights, our accident attorneys have been spending more and more time in Macomb.
There is this Macomb County myth about juries. I’ve noticed a lot of insurance defense lawyers who defend car accidents and truck accidents say that Macomb County juries are very tough, and ask for substantial discounts on what the insurance company should be paying because of this. They like to say that Macomb County juries are somehow so pro-defense and conservative that they will not award true value for any personal injury case, no matter how clear the facts or how serious the injury.
This is nonsense. This is our second significant auto accident trial verdict in Macomb County in as many years, the last being my own for $5.6 million jury verdict on a defense offer of $1 million before trial (again, same arguments about Macomb County juries). The truth is that Macomb County juries are probably like juries everywhere. They appreciate when lawyers talk straight and don’t play games or waste their time.
My message for personal injury lawyers in Macomb County is simply this: Don’t be misled by what the insurance companies are saying about Macomb County. If you have a deserving client who was seriously injured through no fault of his or her own, and if you are forced to try the case because the insurance company is refusing to take responsibility and putting on bogus defenses, there should be no reluctance for a well-prepared lawyer to seek a full and fair verdict on behalf of a deserving client on a just case.
Michigan Auto Law is the leading and largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. Our lawyers have received the largest reported jury verdict for an auto accident case in Michigan in six of the past nine years, including 2009, according to published reports. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer – anytime.