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How Michigan accident attorneys should approach auto injury cases after McCormick v. Carrier

February 7, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Teaching law students at Wayne State University Law School trial class

On Wednesday, I will have the pleasure of teaching a group of very bright law school students during Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Gleicher’s advanced trial class at Wayne State University Law School. I will be analyzing a car accident personal injury case, discussing experts and how to approach discovery and depositions. I’ll especially focus on what Michigan’s auto accident law actually is after McCormick v. Carrier.

Greg Gromek, an excellent defense attorney from Plunkett Cooney, will be the defense attorney for the model auto accident case we will be discussing. He will approach it from the insurance defense perspective, and I will be approaching it as a plaintiff personal injury attorney.

The class will be held at 6 p.m. February 9, in the Partrich Auditorium, at Wayne State Law School (in Detroit, Michigan).

For those law students who have not read the case ahead of tonight’s class (perish the thought, of course), or readers who are unfamiliar, McCormick v. Carrier is the August, 2010 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that over turned the state’s previous (and the nation’s harshest) auto accident injury threshold law. The old threshold law was based upon the 2004 Michigan Supreme Court auto accident case Kreiner v. Fischer, which was expressly overruled by the Court in McCormick.

Under McCormick v. Carrier, people who seek compensation for significant personal injury and pain and suffering have a better chance at a fair recovery. McCormick says a person can qualify for pain and suffering damages if his or her normal life is affected – but not completely altered by a car accident, as Kreiner had required.

Unfortunately, there is some speculation among auto accident attorneys in Michigan that after the Republican takeover of our Supreme Court in the November election, that the state’s auto accident threshold law may change once again. It could return to its Kreiner days, or perhaps a less draconian version if new Justices Mary Beth Kelly and Zahra apply a less overtly partisan and pro-insurance, anti-consumer analysis.

In light of McCormick v. Carrier and possible changes on the horizon, it should make for an interesting class, especially – although sadly – on the role that partisanship and politics plays in Michigan law and jurisprudence. Law students and lawyers are taught that precedent and stare decisis are the most respected things that bring continuity and stability to the law, but the past 15 years in Michigan have seen political partisanship largely trump precedent for the Court’s personal injury cases.

In the meantime, the rights of hundreds of auto accident victims in this state rest on the unknown dynamic of two new conservative justices.

Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top accident attorneys handling serious car and truck accident lawsuits and automobile insurance No-Fault litigation. He routinely writes about insurance company abuse and the No-Fault laws in Michigan, and is available for comment.

Related information:

Top 10 tips for law students and future personal injury lawyers

Is being a personal injury attorney for you?

Michigan No-Fault insurance law

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan accident attorneys. We can help.

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