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shutterstock_46373200-300x200As winter approaches, road conditions often get icier, and, because of this, roads become more dangerous. While individuals will often be more diligent on the road due to these conditions, it can also lead to more car accidents. And if someone is injured in one of these accidents, they may want to bring a lawsuit against the blamable party. Unfortunately, the defendants—the people sued in these accidents—will often try to escape responsibility and argue that they are not responsible for the incident because of the weather. However, experienced personal injury attorneys know how to defeat this line of argument and recover monetary compensation for their clients.

Recently, in West Michigan, icy conditions led to multiple crashes. In one accident, a pickup truck was headed southbound when it lost control, crossed the median and landed in the northbound lanes. A car then hit the truck, and both the driver of the pickup truck and a passenger in the car sustained injuries. In another accident, a crash near Grand Rapids involved eleven vehicles and numerous people had minor injuries.

When someone is injured in a car accident and wants to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party, they will often bring a negligence lawsuit. In order to prove the defendant was at fault in Michigan, the plaintiff—the individual bringing the lawsuit—must prove five elements: (1) the defendant had a duty to be safe and careful; (2) the defendant failed to meet that duty; (3) the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injury; (4) if not for the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff would not have been injured; (5) the plaintiff has suffered because of the accident.

shutterstock_1967134333-300x199The construction industry is an integral part of commerce and the growth of Michigan’s economy. Many construction companies are working in overdrive to make up for the slowdown in projects during the height of the pandemic. While these valiant efforts might be necessary, they also increase the risk of workplace injuries in Michigan. Although state and federal laws impose safety standards on worksites and construction companies, accidents and injuries continue to occur.

These cases are challenging as they often involve multiple parties and a chain reaction of events. Every stage of a claim has its burdens, and an attorney can work with an accident victim and their family to make sure that the court hears the most compelling and legally sound case.

The first stage is one of the most time-sensitive parts of a claim involving the accident investigation. An experienced attorney can review whether the construction site or workplace followed the standards set forth by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) and Michigan’s state plan. These agencies govern safety issues surrounding dangerous items and workplace conditions and emergency protocols. For instance, they issue rules regarding boilers, contaminants, personal protective equipment, electrical hazards, cranes, scaffolds, elevators, and hoists. Any deviance from the safety standards can have severe and potentially life-threatening consequences.

shutterstock_760039594-300x169Following Michigan’s historical auto insurance reform, many consumers faced uncertainty about their coverage limits. If someone suffers injuries in a Michigan auto accident, the state’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical coverage pays for the medical care, recovery, and rehabilitative treatment. Before the change, Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP) provided coverage to uninsured non-motorists, like bystanders, pedestrians, and passengers. The new insurance laws cap coverage at $250,000 for claims commencing July 2, 2020. However, uncertainty prevailed among uninsured non-motorists who suffered injuries between the law’s enactment on June 11, 2019, and the effective date of July 2, 2020.

Citing consumer protection concerns, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) issued an order that required MACP to provide unlimited PIP medical coverage to those who suffered injuries before the July 2020 effective date. According to a recent report, the agency that administers the MACP filed a lawsuit asking the Court to overturn the order. After the Court ruled to uphold the order, the The Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF) filed an appeal. However, the appeal was dropped after DIFS reached a settlement that allows unlimited PIP coverage for uninsured vehicle occupants and pedestrians who suffered injuries before the July 2020 implementation. The DIFS director explained that a premature implementation could have seriously affected the livelihood of many Michiganders.

Under the new PIP coverage options, drivers must choose the coverage that pays for medical care if they are in an accident. In return, the law requires insurance companies to reduce the PIP medical portion of premiums based on the policyholder’s choice. There are six levels available, including unlimited coverage, up to $500,00 in coverage, up to $250,000 in coverage, up to $250,000 in coverage with PIP medical exclusions, up to $50,000 in coverage, and PIP medical opt-out.

shutterstock_115285153-300x168The thrills and dangers of Michigan’s amusement parks are two sides of the same coin. While these places are popular and fun attractions for residents and tourists, they pose many dangers to visitors. While the risk of dying on a roller coaster is relatively rare, there are nearly 30,000 amusement park-related accidents and injuries every year. Michigan amusement park accident lawsuits are challenging because of the various statutes and immunity that these parks purport as defenses to their negligence. Those who have suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of a theme or amusement park injury should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

The leading causes of Michigan amusement park injuries involve insufficient warnings, improper signs, failure to enforce safety standards, defective rides, and ineffective supervision. These forms of negligence can result in serious physical injuries, psychological damage, and death. For example, national news reports have described a harrowing accident involving a Michigan woman who suffered injuries at Cedar Point amusement park. According to reports, the woman was standing in line waiting for a ride when a piece of a ride struck her in the head. An investigation revealed that the L-shaped metal object was approximately the size of an adult man’s hand. The object, a “flat plate,” became dislodged when its securing bolts loosened and fell off.

Safety officials stated that the bracket should hover over the track, and sensors track its movements. However, during the ride’s descent, the bracket ripped off, causing it to fly off of the ride. It appears that the brackets exhibited signs of deformation and damage, which may have contributed to the incident. The woman continues to fight for her life as she receives treatment for her head injuries.

shutterstock_1799961445-300x200The Michigan Supreme Court recently issued an opinion stemming from a plaintiff’s medical malpractice case involving the misdiagnosis of a cancerous tumor. The plaintiff and her husband filed a lawsuit against a medical center and a physician, alleging that they erroneously advised the plaintiff that a tumor in her breast was benign. After the diagnosis, the woman continued to feel the lump in her breast growing and eventually sought follow-up care. Approximately two years after her original mammogram, the woman underwent a biopsy, which revealed an invasive carcinoma and metastatic breast cancer. Unfortunately, doctors discovered that cancer spread to her lymph nodes. The woman sought a second opinion, at which point the doctor suggested that her original mammogram may have been misread. In response, the woman and her husband filed a notice to sue, which tolled the statute of limitations for filing the case. In response, the defendants moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that the statute of limitations barred the claim.

Under Michigan’s statute of limitations (SOL), MCR 2.116(C)(7), personal injury plaintiffs, have two years to file a claim. In this case, the defendants argued that the two-year SOL had expired in 2015. Further, they claimed that the plaintiffs’ complaint was untimely under the state’s “discovery rule.” Michigan’s discovery rule statute MCL 600.5838a(2) mandates that medical malpractice plaintiffs file a lawsuit within six months after discovering the claim or from when they should have discovered the claim.

The Michigan Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff should have discovered the existence of her claim over the six months before when she initiated proceedings. In reviewing the claim, the Court explained that the woman discovered her mass in 2013 and sought treatment immediately. Despite the doctor’s conclusion that it was benign, she continued to monitor the mass and sought additional testing in 2014 and 2015. Further, she did not receive notice of a potential 2013 misdiagnosis until 2016. The facts indicate that a jury could conclude that the plaintiff engaged in due diligence. As such, the appeals court erred in concluding that the matter could be resolved in favor of the defendants at the summary judgment state. As such, the Court reversed and remanded the matter.

shutterstock_1187007133-300x194As Michigan’s auto insurance laws take effect, many accident victims are already facing the consequences of the drastic changes. The new rules are Part II of the state’s auto insurance overhaul. The first facet of the changes took place last year and provided Michigan drivers with an option of how much no-fault medical coverage they must purchase with their auto insurance policy. Before the overhaul, the law required Michigan motorists to purchase unlimited, lifetime coverage.

The most critical change impacts those receiving care at rehabilitation clinics and from other providers who treat accident victims. The changes will require these centers and providers to cut their prices by 45%. The reductions will likely impact the nearly 7,000 Michigan accident victims who are receiving treatment paid for by their auto insurance policies. For instance, as described in a recent news report, a case manager who handles the care of accident victims recently described how the changes are already impacting her clients.

The woman’s client has quadriplegia and a traumatic brain injury from a car accident. He is unable to engage in typical daily activities without assistance. The man requires assistance leaving his bed, using the restroom and getting food and water. Unfortunately, he is dependent on his caregivers, previously paid for by his insurance company, to do any of these necessary tasks. The recent changes forced the case manager’s company out of business, which has left him without any care. The case manager frantically tried to arrange care for him, but without family or friends, she was forced to take him to a hospital.

shutterstock_715753720-300x200Pedestrian and road intersections are critical to connecting people who are traveling from one route to another. However, the area where roads and paths intersect often creates dangerous points. A recent list reports that out of Michigan’s 20 most dangerous intersections, nearly 75% of them are in Detroit. A significant number of Michigan accidents occur at these intersections. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) explained that enhancing intersection safety is one of the best ways to prevent serious and fatal accidents.

The FHWA Safety Program focuses on addressing the three main factors contributing to these accidents: conflict point, vehicle speed, and collision angle. The main conflict points are where the vehicles merge, diverge or cross. These accidents usually involve accidents between two vehicles, vehicles with pedestrians, and vehicles with cyclists. A majority of accidents are caused by displaced left-turns on quadrant highways. Next, vehicle speed plays a significant role in accidents; the amount of energy a car exerts during a crash can drastically impact the severity of an accident. Finally, collision angle also impacts crash severity; traditional intersections present more opportunities to collide at dangerous angles.

Michigan’s most dangerous intersections occur at 18 ½ Mile and Van Dyke Avenue in Sterling Heights. This location is the site of about five accidents every two weeks. Additionally, 11 Mile/Interstate 696 and Van Dyke Avenue, U.S. 131 and Wealthy Street, Martin Parkway and Pontiac Trail, and Schoolcraft Road and Telegraph Road, were the top five locations for intersection accidents in the state. A startling 587 accidents occurred at these locations, accounting for nearly 100 injuries.

shutterstock_1167968773-300x193The state supreme court recently issued a decision in a case stemming from a Michigan car accident victim’s insurance claim. The plaintiff’s insurance company issued the plaintiff and his wife a six-month no-fault insurance policy from September 26, 2017, through March 26, 2018. The policy provisions required the plaintiff to pay a monthly premium and allowed the insurance company to cancel the policy if they provided the plaintiff with ten days’ notice.

During the policy period, the insurance company mailed the plaintiff a bill and advised that the company would cancel the policy effective October 27, 2017, if the plaintiff did not pay the premium on time. The plaintiff failed to pay the premium, and the insurance company offered to reinstate the policy with a lapse in coverage. In November 2017, a driver struck the plaintiffs while they were walking across a street. The plaintiff and his wife suffered damages as a result of the accident. Two days after the incident, the plaintiff sent a premium payment to their insurance company, and the company reinstated their policy that day. However, the insurance company advised the plaintiff that there was a lapse in coverage and they would not cover the claim. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against their insurance company. In response, the insurance company contended that the policy was canceled and not in effect at the time of the incident.

The primary issue on appeal was what constitutes a valid cancellation notice under MCL 500.3020(1). Courts evaluating contract disputes typically focus on reviewing the “plain language” of the statute. Specifically, the outcome of this case hinges on the meaning of the phrase “notice of cancellation.” The objective of this statute is to ensure that those who are insured under a policy are allowed to satisfy the condition that prompted the cancellation. This allows the insured to revive their policy, obtain alternate coverage, or adjust their activities to reduce the risk of operating their vehicles without insurance.

shutterstock_1893878842-300x200Elder abuse and nursing home abuse is a national issue that affects millions of adults every year. Most recent statistics indicate that there are about 52 million people over 65-years-old in the United States. A startling 1 in 10 of these individuals suffer some form of elder abuse. In an effort to address this harrowing problem, Attorney General Nessel announced that agents would be making unannounced visits to facilities to monitor Michigan nursing home abuse cases. While elder abuse can occur in various situations, it often happens in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These instances can involve physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and sexual assault.

Officials are consulting with the Sentinel Project to determine the nursing homes that will receive an unannounced visit. The Sentinel Project is a non-profit that works with communities to address mass atrocities throughout the world. The Project will review prior complaints, performance reports, and other data to determine which nursing homes to prioritize.

Michigan nursing homes are often subject to review under Michigan’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs branch. However, this initiative differs in that it will primarily investigate criminal activity and not licensing issues. The Attorney General’s office stated that they believe this program will address and eliminate substandard and abusive care of one of the state’s most vulnerable populations.

shutterstock_221586889-300x200As the name implies, multi-vehicle accidents occur when more than two vehicles are involved in a collision. Chain-reaction refers to the manner in which many multi-vehicle accidents begin. Michigan chain-reaction accidents usually start with one collision whose force causes other vehicles to slam into one another. These accidents frequently occur in areas where vehicles are close to each other, such as densely occupied highways, narrow roads, or traffic stops. After a Michigan chain-reaction accident, establishing fault and liability presents many challenges to injury victims, as it can be hard to determine the exact course of events that lead to the accident. Further, in some cases, more than one party may be responsible for the accident.

In many cases, the driver who caused the initial crash in a chain-reaction accident may be responsible. However, there may be many contributing acts of negligence that could have led to the accident. Complete and adequate recovery often requires the injury victim or their loved one to establish each at-fault party’s negligence. Some contributing factors that may impose liability on a party are drivers who fail to use their brake lights or signals, drivers who were following too closely or were speeding, and distracted or fatigued drivers. Further, in some cases, a governmental agency may bear responsibility if the accident involved improper traffic signs or dangerous road obstacles. While most cases involve negligence, there are some limited situations where a natural hazard or inclement weather event started the chain of the events.

Chain-reaction accidents tend to result in serious injuries and property damage. For instance, local news reports described a disturbing Michigan five-vehicle chain-reaction accident. A preliminary investigation revealed that a car was blocking the left lane of a major highway after an accident. State Troopers stated that the driver of the first crash was fatally struck by another vehicle as he was exiting his car. While law enforcement responded to the initial crash, a second call came in regarding a rollover accident on the same highway. The five-car incident resulted in one motorist’s death.

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