Articles Posted in Car Accidents

When one party sues another, sometimes there may be other parties that also want to be part of the lawsuit. There are specific laws that govern who may do so and when a party can join into a lawsuit. The Eastern District of Michigan District Court recently heard a case that illustrates this concept and gives an example of when it may apply.

No-Fault Personal Injury Protection

Michigan is a “no-fault” state. That means insurance policies will pay insured individuals after a car accident no matter who was at fault. In this case, a driver had personal injury protection benefits through a commercial insurer. Personal injury protection is meant to pay for injuries suffered by the driver after a car accident. The plaintiff was later in a car accident where he was injured. As part of treating his injuries, he saw physicians at a Michigan medical provider. Instead of paying the healthcare provider directly, the plaintiff assigned his right to collect on the bills to the healthcare provider. Now, the injured driver is suing his insurance company to collect the benefits he is owed. Thus, the healthcare provider filed a motion to join the lawsuit against the insurer to collect on the money they are owed for the healthcare services.

The trial court dismissed the healthcare provider’s action under recently decided Michigan case law that held that healthcare providers do not have their own cause of action against insurance companies for personal injury protection payments. Further, the court held that under the insurance policy itself, the consent of the defendant is necessary in order for the collection rights to be assigned.

Continue reading

When you buy insurance, you think that you will be covered in the event of the accident. This is especially true if you answer all the questions truthfully and continue to pay your premiums. However, sometimes insurance companies may see things differently and try to get out of paying the money that you are owed. If this happens to you, you should contact a knowledgeable Michigan personal injury to help you hold the insurance company accountable. In a case recently heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals, the court upheld a ruling that forced the insurance company to pay the damages that the injured plaintiff was entitled to.

The Insurance Policy

In 2006, the husband of the plaintiff purchased a no-fault insurance policy for their family cars. The plaintiff used one of the vehicles for one half-day a week to deliver mail. The insurance policy asked if any of the vehicles were used for business. The agent answered no, even though the plaintiff’s husband testified that he told the insurance agent about the plaintiff’s part-time delivery job. The policy automatically renewed. In 2012, the plaintiff got a new car and her husband got coverage for that car as well. He testified that he once again told the insurance agent that his wife used the car to deliver mail.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Michigan accident, there are many potential damages that you may be able to recover. Some of the potential categories of damages include lost wages, past and future medical expenses, and other costs or lost income related to the accident. This case revolves around one of those kinds of damages, specifically attendant care benefits. Attendant care benefits may be paid in situations where the injured person needs support that cannot be given by their family or caretakers. Attendants are people that come in anywhere from 24 hours a day/seven days a week to an hour or less a week to assist the injured person with their daily care.

The Accident and Injuries

In 2001, a five year old girl was injured in a car accident. Her mother was killed in the accident. As they did not have insurance, the claim was assigned through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. The state plan then assigned the claim to State Farm Insurance. In the time since the accident, the insurance carrier paid out only a little over $5,000 in attendant care benefits.

A plaintiff was stopped on I-94 in Michigan when her vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by an FBI agent. The plaintiff asserted that the impact caused or exacerbated neck and back injuries and sued the federal government pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The defendant moved for summary judgment. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted in part and denied in part.In this Michigan car accident case, the district court explained, the accident occurred on a Michigan highway, and therefore, Michigan law governed the court’s determination of liability and damages. Under Michigan’s No-Fault Act, “tort liability for non-economic loss arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a qualifying motor vehicle is limited to a list of enumerated circumstances.”

The appeals court explained that the defendant discharged their initial summary-judgment burden of showing that the accident was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s spinal issues.

First, it was undisputed that the plaintiff experienced neck and back issues prior to the accident. Second, her post-accident care supported the defendant’s causation position. She did not seek medical attention immediately following the accident, but she did go to the emergency room with neck, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine pain on the following evening. But she also refused pain medication at this time, and the ER doctor noted that while she had some neck tenderness, she had a normal range of motion in her back and musculoskeletal system. Third, the defendant’s experts concluded that the plaintiff’s spinal issues were not caused by the accident.

A plaintiff appealed the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10). Holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, the Michigan appeals court reversed and remanded.At around 9:15 p.m. on November 2, 2013, the plaintiff was walking home from the Applebee’s restaurant where he worked. He testified that he was walking northbound on Monroe Street, while the defendant was driving northbound on Monroe Street, talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend. The defendant’s vehicle struck the plaintiff near the intersection of Monroe Street and LaSalle Road, severely injuring him.

Continue reading

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently reversed the order of summary disposition granted to a defendant driver and Progressive Insurance in an action for third-party no-fault benefits following a car accident.On May 9, 2011, in the City of Bingham Farms, the plaintiff was driving southbound on Telegraph Road when he was struck by the defendant, whose vehicle “entered the wrong turnaround on Telegraph Road,” “failed to yield to oncoming traffic,” drove in front of the plaintiff’s vehicle, and caused a collision. The plaintiff, with his wife, filed a three-count complaint on May 9, 2014 against the driver and Progressive jointly and severally, alleging claims of negligence, underinsured motorist coverage, and loss of consortium resulting from the May 9, 2011 motor vehicle accident. Both defendants answered the complaint, and discovery ensued. Motions for summary disposition followed.

Continue reading

Plaintiffs Fred St. Onge and Karen Ross were hit by a State of Michigan vehicle driven by defendant Ramona G. Smith, an employee of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The lower court granted summary disposition to Smith, pursuant to the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA), reasoning that Smith was entitled to governmental immunity because she was acting within the scope of employment when the crash occurred. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed.One afternoon in September 2011, Smith inspected a nursing home in Negaunee as part of her employment with LARA. She was permitted to stay in a hotel that night rather than driving home. On her way to the hotel in Munising, Smith turned left on US-41 in front of the plaintiffs’ oncoming car.

Continue reading

In February 2012, Chris Penzak was crossing Parent Street in Royal Oak to her car after leaving an appointment. She tripped and fell when her toe hit a one-half inch rise in the road. Penzak suffered injuries to her pelvis, rib, and knees. She had been attending appointments in the same building twice a week for several years, but she had never had issues crossing the road or noticed the defect in the road. Pensak sued the City of Royal Oak.The city moved for summary disposition based on governmental immunity. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion, holding that the plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of fact that the highway exception to governmental immunity applied to this case. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred when it granted summary disposition to the defendant. The appellate court upheld the grant of summary judgment, but for slightly different reasons than the trial court.

Continue reading

Two recent published opinions by the Michigan Court of Appeals reaffirm the right of medical providers to bring their no-fault benefits claims to court, even when the patient settles or becomes non-cooperative.Covenant Medical Center, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ensures that no-fault benefits claims aren’t resolved without medical providers’ approval by an injured party’s settlement.

Continue reading

Contact Information