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Michigan Auto Law’s 2018 Year in Review

December 26, 2018 by Steven M. Gursten

Our attorneys want to thank our clients for the honor of helping you and for placing your trust in us: We’re proud to have accomplished so much together

Michigan Auto Law - Year In Review 2018 - Thank you to our clients!
From left to right: Robert Raitt, Steven Gursten, Lawrence Gursten and Leonard Koltonow

2018 was a year full of accomplishments for our law firm, and, more importantly, for the people we are entrusted with helping.

This “Year In Review” blog has become a yearly tradition. Importantly – and I cannot stress this enough – we could not have done what I lay out below without our clients.

As a law firm, we’ve chosen a different path from the hundreds of personal injury law firms in Michigan. The cornerstone of our law firm’s practice is taking fewer cases so we can focus more on each case, and to remember that clients are not case numbers but people who are to treated with respect and compassion. Keeping caseloads lower creates better results and communication with our clients. This is reflected in the settlement and verdict results we’re able to achieve for the people we are entrusted with protecting every year.

Here’s a quick update of 2018, as we look forward to the year ahead:


  • Reflecting our commitment to exceptional client service and communication, Michigan Auto Law attorneys have again received the prestigious “Client’s Choice” award from Avvo for extraordinary client service in the legal field.

Settlements and trial verdicts

  • The firm also continued its track record of achieving top results for our clients in 2018. These include a $5.1 million auto accident settlement by Kevin Seiferheld and Jordan Jones and nine separate $1 million-plus settlements by our attorneys. Steve also settled a confidential multi-million-dollar truck accident case with out of state co-counsel.
  • These settlements are only possible because of our willingness to take cases to trial when insurance companies do not fairly and adequately evaluate car accident claims.
  • One example – Brandon Hewitt and Rick Houghton from Michigan Auto Law’s Grand Rapids/West Michigan office received a $520,000 verdict in Ottawa County on only a $30,000 defense offer before trial (the highest offer during trial was $50,000). This verdict is the largest ever car accident pain and suffering damages verdict in Ottawa County, according to VerdictSearch. The jury award is also the largest car accident verdict for pain and suffering damages in West Michigan in 2018.
  • Being willing to take cases to trial also significantly increases settlements for our clients. In addition to the $1 million-plus settlements that Kevin Seiferheld and Jordan Jones received in 2018, they also settled a case for $485,000 on the fourth day of trial when the highest defense offer on the first day of trial was only $125,000.

Legal Leadership

  • Our legal leadership also continued in 2018. Robert Raitt was elected Chairman of the State Bar of Michigan Negligence Law Section. Bobby is also a past-president of the Michigan Association for Justice.
  • Steve Gursten is the President of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group. Steve is also a past-President of the AAJ Trucking Litigation Group and an immediate past-President of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. Steve is President-elect of the Belli Society, and will be sworn in this July of 2019 in San Diego.

Legal Honors and Awards

  • Michigan Auto Law is again recognized by U.S. News & Best Lawyer®’s annual “Best Law Firms” list for excellent personal injury litigation in Metro Detroit. In addition, Michigan Auto Law attorneys are selected among the top attorneys in the U.S. — for the 10th year in a row — in the annual Super Lawyers® list.
  • Steve Gursten, Larry Gursten, Lenny Koltonow and Bobby Raitt are named to The Best Lawyers in America® 2018 list.
  • Steve Gursten and Bobby Raitt were also voted among the top 50 lawyers in all of Michigan, out of over 60,000 lawyers according to Super Lawyers®.

Making Positive Change in Michigan and throughout the nation

  • While we’ve been able to help so many people in 2018, we’ve also contributed to statewide change. One particular point of pride was our work with WXYZ Channel 7 news reporter Kim Russell exposing how car insurance companies have been illegally discriminating against women and widows for years. This became a series of stories about how insurance companies have been violating Michigan law by charging women and widows more than men and widowers for years. We also worked with CBS Evening News on national stories on school bus safety.

Legal Seminars and Education

Our attorneys have been speaking at legal seminars and conferences throughout the U.S.:

  • “Traumatic Brain Injury Convention”; American Association for Justice Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group 2018; Washington, D.C.; December 2018
  • “Cross-Examining the Uncooperative Defense Expert”; Ohio Association for Justice’s Winter Convention; Cleveland, OH; October
  • “Winning Brain Injury Cases”; Nevada Justice Association’s 42nd Annual Convention Seminar; San Diego, CA; October
  • “First-Party No Fault Update “; Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), On-demand video seminar; Ann Arbor, MI; October
  • “Best Practices for Proving Threshold Injuries”; Michigan Association for Justice’s 15th Annual No-Fault Institute; Novi, MI; October
  • “Challenges to a Smooth Settlement”; Michigan Association for Justice’s 15th Annual No-Fault Institute; Novi, MI; October
  • “Negotiating Claims and Settlements”; Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys – Annual Symposium; Nashville, Tennessee; September
  • “How to Avoid Being Duped by Scientists and Clinicians Misrepresenting the Literature in TBI Cases”; American Association for Justice Webinar; September
  • “Cross-Examination of Medical and Psychological Experts”; Annual Convention, American Association for Justice; Denver, CO; July
  • “The Future of Motor Vehicle Litigation”; Annual Convention, American Association for Justice; Denver, CO; July
  • “Deposing Truck Drivers and Trucking Company Representatives”; Strafford nationwide legal CLE webinar; Online; June
  • “Strategies to Save Cases if the Auto Threshold Law Changes Again”; Michigan Association for Justice’s 73rd Annual Advocacy Seminar; Detroit, MI; May
  • “Winning Traffic Collision Cases Involving Autos, Trucks and Motorcycles”; American Association for Justice Jazz Fest legal seminar; New Orleans, LA; May
  • “A Truck Case Walks Into the Office – Now What?”; Boardwalk Seminar, New Jersey Association for Justice; Atlantic City, NJ; May
  • “How to Conduct an Effective Cross Examination of an Expert Witness in an Auto TBI Case”; “Frontiers in Advocacy: Traumatic Brain Injury”; Legal Latitudes; Nashville, TN; May
  • “Proving and Winning TBI in Auto Crash Cases”; “Auto Crash Litigation 5.0”; 360 Advocacy; Las Vegas, NV; April
  • “The Role of the Independent Medical Evaluation”; No-Fault Summit, ICLE, Negligence Section of the State Bar of Michigan; Plymouth, MI; April
  • “Winning Injury and Car Accident Cases at Trial”; “A Day with Masters of the Plaintiffs Bar”; Kentucky Justice Association; Louisville, KY; April
  • “Becoming the Anti-Fragile Trial Lawyer”; Build to Win Conference, 360 Advocacy; Jackson Hole, WY; March
  • “Leveraging Demand Letters to Obtain Significant Settlements in Auto Accident Cases”; Strafford National Webinar Series; Online; March
  • “Get the Most Out of Expert Witnesses”; On-demand video seminar, ICLE; Ann Arbor, MI; March

All of us at Michigan Auto Law thank you for your past referrals and for your trust and confidence. We take great pride in protecting people who’ve been seriously injured in car, truck and motorcycle accidents, and doing so better than anyone else in Michigan year in and year out.

We wish you a very happy 2019.

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