Appellate Court reinstates "serious impairment" case dismissed by Saginaw judge
Charmain Moore sued Karl Trepkowski and his son for damages she suffered in a car accident caused by the son driving Karl's vehicle. A shoe saleswoman, Moore suffered two fractures in her wrist. Ultimately she had surgery on the wrist, but still endured pain in the wrist more than a year after the collision. She claimed that it interfered with many activities in addition to her work, including use of a computer, grooming, and cleaning house. It did not prevent her from completing the seven month training cycle that allowed her to join the National Guard--a fact that the trial judge seized upon in granting the defendants summary disposition.
On appellate review, the higher court reversed the trial judge. The panel concluded that Moore had sufficiently documented a "serious impairment of bodily function" to leave the ultimate decision up to the jury. Recall that under Michigan's no fault act, a traffic accident victim cannot sue the at-fault driver unless the victim suffered a "threshold" injury: death, permanent serious disfigurement or a serious impairment of bodily function. Judges who owe their appointment or election to insurance industry support tend to interpret the latter standard as needing to show a "life-altering" injury.