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News & Case Results

Serious Impairment

“Do I have to have a permanent injury to qualify for money damages against the other driver in a Michigan no-fault case?”

This is a question we answer in one form or another just about every day in our practice. In a Michigan motor vehicle crash case, you may qualify for money damages against the owner, driver, or both of the other vehicle if:

  1. The other driver was at least 50% responsible for the collision
  2. You had no-fault coverage on your vehicle (if you were a pedestrian or bicyclist, that doesn’t apply)
  3. You suffered serious impairment of body function, permanent serious disfigurement, serious neurological injury or death

The area that causes the most questions is “serious impairment.” Some Michigan judges and courts used to think that “serious” meant “permanent,” or even “disabling.” In recent years, however, the Michigan Supreme Court clarified the definition somewhat. It seems clear now that an injury from a car accident is “serious” if it can be verified by a doctor, and if it alters the way a victim has to live his normal life.

We take that to mean that even if you go back to most of your regular activities at some point after an auto crash injury, you may still qualify for damages if you can show that proven injuries are making it clearly more difficult to function than you did before the accident.

Source: 487 Mich 180