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Michigan Car Accident Victims Get Rights Restored

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The Michigan Supreme Court issued the much anticipated opinion in McCormick v. Carrier. According to the MAJ, this decision restores the rights of car accident victims to recevie fair compensation for their injuries.  See the following points of interest.

1. The McCormick decision restores the rights of innocent victims to recover compensation for serious injuries caused by negligent and drunk drivers, by returning to the specific legal standards that were enacted by the Michigan Legislature when it passed the current law 15 years ago. In other words, this is not new law, but rather a return to the no-fault threshold passed by the Michigan Legislature in 1995.

2. The McCormick decision recognizes that the Kreiner decision, which it overruled, was nothing more than judge-made law that constituted a radical departure from the specific language and overall intent of the Michigan No-Fault Act.

3. It is reasonable to expect that this decision will actually reduce the number of lawsuits filed in circuit court for the reason that under the Kreiner decision, auto insurance companies were forcing victims to
file lawsuits so they could defeat legitimate claims in court by imposing the draconian legal standards of the Kreiner case. Hopefully, this practice will end under McCormick, as insurance companies will now be forced to recognize legitimate claims and deal with innocent victims in a fair and just manner.

4. The McCormick decision should dramatically decrease the amount of appellate court litigation by returning Michigan to the stable and less litigious appellate court environment that existed prior to the Kreiner decision. In this regard, the majority opinion notes that in the nine years prior to Kreiner, there were less than 10 Court of Appeals cases per year dealing with the tort threshold. However, in the nine years since Kreiner was decided, there have been over 250 Court of Appeals decisions! By rejecting the Kreiner standard, the amount of appellate court litigation should dramatically decrease, thereby saving tax dollars and freeing up Michigan appellate judges to address other important legal cases.

5. Any argument by the insurance industry that the McCormick decision will increase insurance premiums should be flatly rejected as untrue and fear-mongering. In this regard, auto liability insurance premiums
typically represent only about 20% of a person's total auto insurance premium. It is estimated that 50%-60% of the typical total auto insurance premium goes to pay for collision and comprehensive coverages. Moreover, uring the repressive six-year Kreiner era, auto liability insurance remiums never went down, thus establishing the fact that there is little, f any, link between the interpretation of the Michigan auto tort threshold and the cost of liability insurance. Under McCormick, the insurance industry will be forced to return some of the staggering profits it made during the last six years to auto accident victims who have been paying premiums intended to benefit them, not fatten the bank accounts of auto insurers.

6. The McCormick decision clearly illustrates the unfairness and injustice created by the Kreiner decision for people like Mr. McCormick. Mr. McCormick sustained a severe fracture to his ankle when his leg was run over by a truck. He required two operations to repair his shattered ankle. He was off work for 19 months and when he returned, was not able to resume his normal job duties. Medical testimony established that his injury had caused the onset of degenerative arthritis in his ankle joint, which is only bound to get worse over time. Victims like Mr. McCormick had never been denied compensation during the 37-year history of the Michigan no-fault law until the Kreiner decision came down six years ago. After that, victims like Mr. McCormick were routinely denied the right to hold careless and drunk drivers
accountable for injuries that significantly affected their quality of life. It is because of the unfairness of Kreiner for people like Mr. McCormick that the Kreiner decision had become universally condemned by almost all knowledgeable observers, except those associated with the auto insurance industry.

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