Likely changes in the Kreiner "serious impairment" standard for auto injuries
The Michigan Lawyers Weekly re-stated the obvious this week, when it pointed out that Cliff Taylor's loss in the Michigan Supreme Court race likely dooms the current "life-altering" interpretation of "serious impairment of bodily function". A person injured in a motor vehicle collision can only sue the at-fault if she or he suffers death, permanent serious disfigurement, or a serious impairment of bodily function.
Justice Weaver, the Court's fifth Republican Justice, had dissented from Taylor's "textualist" re-writing of the no fault act, a re-writing that rendered the serious impairment threshold a greater impediment to victim's claims by imposing a requirement that the "serious" injury be "life-altering". In the thirty-plus years after the no fault act was adopted in 1973, both the Legislature and the Supreme Court had rejected this kind of "catastrophic" threshold for bringing a lawsuit. Since the new Justice, Diane Hathaway, had staunchly and publicly criticized the re-writing of the no fault threshold by Taylor, it appears all but certain that she and Weaver will form part of a four-Justice majority, with Justices Kelly and Cavanaugh, espousing the philosophy of the Kreiner dissent and preserving the original statutory meaning.