At issue in this civil litigation was the interpretation of “serious impairment of body function,” a necessary element for recovery. The plaintiff was injured when a car sideswiped his motorcycle, resulting in a small fracture below his right knee, where preexisting arthritis was also present.
An x-ray taken a few months after the accident showed that the fracture had nearly healed but that the plaintiff had “significant degenerative changes” in the knee. The orthopedic surgeon lifted all restrictions on the plaintiff’s activities and advised him he could continue to wear a brace to relieve pain. The plaintiff continued to experience soreness and limited range of motion, and although the treating orthopedic surgeon believed that the injury had partly accelerated the preexisting arthritis, the doctor could not quantify the difference.
After the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim that the motor vehicle accident caused a serious impairment of body function (necessary to prevail in a tort action under Michigan insurance laws), he appealed, arguing that the injury to his right knee was substantial enough to affect his ability to lead a normal life. The Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed, relying on the plaintiff’s ability to return to work, his doctor’s diagnosis, and other evidence to conclude that he failed to establish the evidentiary threshold. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision that there was no factual dispute concerning the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.
As this case demonstrates, interpretation of Michigan’s no-fault laws can be difficult, and often depends on the unique facts and circumstances of each case. Kreis Enderle represents plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of civil litigation matters, helping them pursue their rights in state and federal courts across Michigan.