Understanding the Injury Threshold Rule in Michigan For Pain and Suffering Claims

In 2017, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety reported 314,921 motor vehicle traffic crashes in Michigan. From these accidents, there were 78,392 people injured, and 1,028 people killed. Indeed, car accidents are common and may prove fatal. This is why it’s important to know your rights and how to protect them in the unfortunate event of a car accident. What if you were involved in a car crash and injured? The No-Fault Act of Michigan allows you to recover from the driver at-fault. You can file two kinds of claims: a first party claim and a third-party claim.

A first party claim is based on contract, and under this, you can recover for medical expenses, lost wages, and replacement services. In contrast, a third-party claim is based on tort law and covers damages for pain, suffering, and other non-economic losses. However, before your third-party claim can prosper, you have to prove two things: that the other driver was at least 50% at fault and that you meet the threshold requirement for personal injuries.

What Is Considered A Threshold Injury?

The success of your lawsuit in a Michigan car accident case depends on whether or not you have a threshold injury, a unique concept in Michigan car accident claims. A threshold injury is defined as one that causes serious impairment of a bodily function or serious and permanent disfigurement. Section 500.3135 of the No-Fault Act defines a serious impairment of a body function as “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.”

Under the old interpretation of the Michigan Supreme Court, the claimant had to prove that the injury affected his or her general ability to “conduct the course or trajectory of his or her entire normal life.” Fortunately, in the 2010 case of McCormick v. Carrier, the Michigan Supreme Court lowered the threshold of what is considered as serious impairment of body function. Now, whether an injured person has been kept from some, not necessarily all, normal activity for any period, not necessarily a lifetime, may be a basis for a third-party claim.

Even if the Michigan Supreme Court made it easier for car accident victims to sue for pain and suffering, the threshold requirement still causes lengthy litigation in most cases. If the victim was killed, permanently disabled, or severely disfigured, then it is clear that the threshold was met. However, for lesser injuries, the fact of impairment can be disputed.

Factors In Determining A Threshold Injury

How can you then tell if you have a threshold injury? There are no specific guidelines, only that the injury must be of such severity that it impacts your ability to resume your normal life. Examples of these injuries include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or amputation.  To establish the severity of your injuries, it is necessary that you obtain a diagnostic from a doctor. It is only through medical tests and reports that you will be able to prove in court that you have a threshold injury. The court will also consider several factors, including:

  • Whether an vital body part to your job or livelihood was injured
  • Whether you had to miss a significant amount of time in work
  • Whether the injury affected your ability to lead a normal life
  • Whether you are now under any kind of restriction, or whether you will face any restrictions in the future
  • Whether the injury is apparent or can be perceived from actual symptoms or conditions
  • Whether the injury satisfies other parameters deemed important by the court

The court will also look at whether you’re partially to blame for the car accident. If the court finds that you were more than 50% responsible for the accident, then you’re barred from recovery, even though the other driver was partially at fault.

For Help Proving Your Threshold Injury Contact The Clark Law Office Today

Being a victim in a car accident is a traumatic experience, and this is exacerbated by the usual litigation or negotiation processes that follow.  Proving that your injury passes this threshold is always highly debated.  It can be the difference between recoving hundreds of thousands of dollars or nothing at for your third party or pain and suffering claim.  At the Clark Law Office, we have decades of experience proving injuries pass this threshold and we know the best tactics and strategies to fight the insurance company on this issue.  Our professional and dedicated team of car accident lawyers understand your needs and can help you get the best results for your case. For a consultation, contact +1 (517) 347-6900 or send us a message today.