Serious Impairment

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

“How do Michigan courts decide if an auto injury is serious enough to deserve money damages?”

Not every injury caused by an auto accident is considered serious enough under our law to qualify for compensation. Cases of bodily injury (this discussion does not apply to scarring cases or death cases) have to meet the standards of the no-fault law and the rules set down by the Michigan Supreme Court before the victim can qualify for money damages. Here are the three things that the injured person must be able to prove in order to win a verdict or settlement in a motor vehicle case:

  1. Objectively manifested injury (in other words, something that shows up on a test, not just a complaint of pain);
  2. Important body function affected (that’s just about anything);
  3. General ability to lead your normal life affected

So, you have to have an injury that the doctors can document, and it has to affect your life in a negative way for more than just a few days or weeks. It is also important that you are affected by the injury in a way that other people can see (there has to be more than just saying how much pain you are in).

These standards seem to shift every few years. Also, because judgment calls are involved, sometimes you see cases where what you think would be just a minor injury gets a big settlement or court verdict, while other injuries that sound more significant get less. It all depends upon the person, the circumstances, the medical documentation, and being able to convince the other side’s insurance company that you meet all three of the threshold conditions listed above.

Source: 487 Mich 180; MCL 500.3135(1)

Steven Matz

Written By Steven Matz

Steven Matz
Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 33 1/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 33 1/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients. 

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients.  We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims.  Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.

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