Another majority abomination on "serious impairment"
Today the Engler "Gang of Four" handed down another decision denying a seriously injured motorist any recovery.
The Court of Appeals had held in September of 2006 that Doug Jones suffered a "serious impairment of bodily function" in an August, 2003 car accident. His injuries included an unusual spinal fracture at C-7. He was initially treated by immobilizing the fracture with a cervical collar and the administration of medication. In November, he reported persistent pain and the radiation of numbness into his arms and shoulders that had improved somewhat by January of 2004. He then underwent physical therapy with relatively good result. In February he was allowed to return to work for 3 hours per day, or 2 days per week, gradually increasing to full-time after a month. He returned to work in March, ultimately working without restrictions.
During that period, his life outside of work was completely void. He could not hunt, snowmobile, perform yardwork or even walk long distances. He didn't drive for 3 months, enjoyed no intimate relations for two months, and experienced difficulty dressing and feeding himself for two months. He required the assistance of his mother, grandmother and girlfriend to care for his 11 year old son and deliver him to school.
The Court of Appeals noted that this was more than a "minor" interruption of Jones' life. Four Justices of the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Jones' injuries were not "serious" and that he was "generally able to lead his normal life". Justice Weaver pointed out that this opinion, like the Majority's Kreiner opinion interpreting "serious" to require a "life-altering" injury, was an example of the activist Justices using the judicial gavel as a legislative pen. She noted that every motorist who is legally obligated to pay for insurance in order to drive in Michigan should be aware of this decision and the "majority of four's" reluctance to force the insurance industry to pay claims.