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Courts begin to evaluate new serious impairment standard

In Dietzman v. Gommesen, the Court of Appeals began the process of evaluating "serious impairment" claims under the new McCormick standard.  The McCormick decision in August of 2010 overturned the "life altering" interpretation of "serious impairment" that had been created by the Engler Majority of the Supreme Court.  The Court of Appeals in this case offered instruction to the lower court regarding the change in the law governing what an injury victim must prove in order to demonstrate a no fault "threshold" injury allowing the victim to sue the at-fault driver.

Dietzman involved a plaintiff who suffered a closed head injury when her car was T-boned in a Grand Rapids intersection by a car that ran a red light.  The Court of Appeals extrapolated the following three rules:

    1.  The victim must prove that her general ability to lead her normal life has been affected, not destroyed; she may still have a claim even though she has been able to resume her preincident normal life.

    2.  Some of the victim's general ability to live in her normal manner must be affected, but there is no quantitative minimum or percentage of "normal manner of living" that must be proved to be affected.

    3.  The statute does not require an express length of seriously impaired time, so the time interval during which the injury affects a victim's life is one more issue that must be evaluated along with the other factors that determine whether an injury is "serious."

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