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Michigan Car Accident Laws Overview

Current Michigan Car Accident Laws Defined By McCormick v. Carrier

When clients ask our attorneys about the current Michigan car accident laws, there is no cut-and-dry answer. The laws are now defined by a 2010 Michigan Supreme Court case called McCormick v. Carrier. McCormick says a person can qualify for pain and suffering damages if his or her normal life is affected – not completely altered – by injuries from a car accident.

McCormick v. Carrier overturned Michigan’s previous (and the nation’s harshest) injury threshold law, which was based upon the 2004 Michigan Supreme Court auto case Kreiner v. Fischer. McCormick restored important legal rights that had been stripped away from Michigan residents who had been seriously injured in car accidents, but were told they had “no case” under Kreiner.

As of June 11, 2019, the Legislature codified McCormick…

Big changes to the No-Fault Act took place on June 11, 2019, which included changes to Michigan car accident laws for the standard for pain and suffering damages. When the Legislature codified the McCormick decision, that means the Legislature wrote into the Michigan Statute that McCormick is the law. The law says, “MCL 500.3135, as amended by this amendatory act, is intended to codify and give full effect to the opinion of the Michigan supreme court in McCormick v Carrier, 487 Mich 180 (2010).”

MCL 500.3135 states that to bring a lawsuit for pain and suffering, you must suffer a “serious impairment of body function”, meaning an impairment satisfies all of the following requirements:

(a) It is objectively manifested, meaning it is observable or perceivable from actual symptoms or conditions by someone other than the injured person.

(b) It is an impairment of an important body function, which is a body function of great value, significance, or consequence to the injured person.

(c) It affects the injured person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life, meaning it has had an influence on some of the person’s capacity to live in his or her normal manner of living. Although temporal considerations may be relevant, there is no temporal requirement for how long an impairment must last. This examination is inherently fact and circumstance specific to each injured person, must be conducted on a case-by-case basis, and requires comparison of the injured person’s life before and after the incident.

Kreiner v. Fischer is a Michigan Supreme Court decision that interpreted the No-Fault act’s “serious impairment of body function” statute. It established the precondition plaintiffs must meet before they can sue for non-economic (pain and suffering) damages; stipulating that a person can only qualify if his or her normal life is completely altered by car accident injuries.

When Kreiner was in effect, countless innocent crash victims with very serious injuries were unable to file lawsuits because their injuries were not “serious enough.” However, Michigan car accident laws are no longer defined by Kreiner and the Legislature made that clear by codifying McCormick.

Why it’s important to have a lawyer that specializes in Michigan car accident laws

Even though our current Michigan car accident laws defined by McCormick v. Carrier is more fair than Kreiner was, it is still a strict auto law. If MCL 500.3135 or McCormick changes, it most likely will be even harder on auto accident victims.

But don’t let this scare you. If you have an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer who only handles automobile and truck cases, you will have a much better chance at recovering for your personal injuries. An experienced auto accident lawyer can prove your injuries and impairments, and keep you from making innocent mistakes that can sometimes ruin a car accident lawsuit.

Call Michigan Auto Law at (248) 353-7575 for a free case evaluation. We are here to answer all of your questions, and we’ll take all the time you need. You can also use our auto accident lawyer free consultation form.