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Michigan Personal Injury Attorneys | Call Lee Free

Personal injury accidents happen everyday – but just because they’re accidents doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be accounted for. With our areas of expertise and ability to serve clients all over Michigan, the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg P.C. can help you win the justice and compensation you need.

Auto Accident Attorneys
If you’ve suffered a car accident in Michigan and you need a tough and experienced firm to help you earn the benefits you’re entitled to under Michigan no-fault law, we have the resources and knowledge you need to understand these claims and get the compensation you deserve.

Personal Injury Attorneys
Personal injury can take a number of forms, from slip-and-fall cases to injuries brought on by a landlord’s negligence, or even an attack from an unsupervised dog. No matter what the cause of your injury, we can help you file your claim.

Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice, whether it’s an issue during surgery or trauma during birth, is a real and tragic possibility for anyone undergoing a medical procedure. If this happens to you, we can fight to get you peace of mind and financial justice.

Social Security
Winning Social Security Disability benefits can be a lengthy and complicated process. If you have a physical or mental condition that will prevent you from working for at least a year, our Social Security specialists can help you apply and win your benefits.

Worker’s Compensation
Employers are entitled to certain benefits from their employers for work-related injuries, but the laws can be complex and the process can be lengthy and slow-moving. Our team of dedicated workers’ comp lawyers can help you get the benefits you deserve.

Contact Lee Free Today!

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Recent Blogs & News

Michigan Court of Appeals Rules for Plaintiff in Third-Party Threshold Case

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled there a Michigan woman could proceed with a third-party claim for pain and suffering compensation following a car accident.

In Johnson v. Glosson, docket no. 33407, unpublished (11/16/17), an Oakland County judge ruled the plaintiff had not presented enough evidence to demonstrate she had sustained a threshold injury, and therefore was entitled to pain and suffering damages. Under Michigan law, to receive compensation for non-economic damages (pain and suffering), a claimant must have a threshold injury caused by the Michigan auto accident. There are three types of threshold injuries: (1) death, (2) permanent, serious disfigurement, and (3) serious impairment of body function.

Serious Impairment Threshold

Most cases involve this last one– the serious impairment threshold. Under MCL 500.3135(5), a “serious impairment of body function” is defensed as “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.”

This definition has caused fighting going on three decades between insurance companies, plaintiffs, judges, juries and basically anybody involved Michigan car accident law. Under the most recent Michigan Supreme Court decision to weigh on what constitutes serious impairment of body function, our Court in McCormick v. Carrier, 487 Mich 180 (2010) said whether someone has suffered a serious impairment is inherently fact and circumstance-specific and such analysis must be conducted on a case-by-case basis. Further, a plaintiff’s impairments need not be permanent.

The court in Johnson v. Glosson analyzed the McCormick rationale, and subsequent cases which have ruled that the plaintiff only has to show that the plaintiff’s ability to lead a normal life has been affected by comparing the plaintiff’s life before and after the injury.

Ruling on This Case

In the Johnson case, the Michigan woman involved in the car accident had presented enough evidence to raise a genuine dispute as to whether her impairments affected her ability to lead a normal life. Therefore, the appeals court reversed the trial judge’s decision, and reinstated the case, giving the woman the opportunity to obtain pain and suffering compensation.

In doing this, the court found that her own treating doctors found a tear in her left shoulder that was caused by the car accident, and that the tear prevented her from reaching overhead and lifting objects with her left arm. In addition, although she had some degenerative conditions not caused by the car accident, she had “a number of acute findings that suggested that the October 22, 2014 accident either caused new injuries to plaintiff or aggravated a preexisting condition, or both.”

This decision is a positive one for people injured in Michigan car wrecks throughout the state. This decision can be used by other claimants, like our clients, to show insurance companies that they too have sustained a threshold injury. The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. will monitor this case and see if the insurance company for the defendant attempts to get the Michigan Supreme Court to once again review this threshold inquiry.

Video Transcript

To get money in a Michigan car accident case you have to have what’s called a threshold injury. And to have a threshold injury you really have to show that your life has changed in a meaningful way. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but it does have to be somewhat significant. And you do that by showing work loss, medical treatment, what restrictions you have, and what recreational activities and hobbies that you can’t do that you could do before. 

University of Michigan Greek Life Faces Numerous Hazing Allegations

University of Michigan Suspends Greek Life Activities as Several Fraternities Face Hazing Allegations

The University of Michigan’s newspaper recently reported that the University’s student-run Interfraternity Council has suspended all Greek Life social activities and new member education programs in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, hazing and drug use. The suspension has banned all Greek Life mixers and date parties, hazing rituals for new pledges and general fraternity meetings involving alcohol. Only social activities that have already been paid for will be allowed. Those event planners will need to submit bank statements and plans to monitor sobriety during the function.

The ban comes after The Daily reported, “In addition to sexual misconduct claims involving fraternity brothers, the allegations include six instances of hazing, more than 30 hospital transports during the Oct. 7 football game against Michigan State University, as well as seven more hospital transports during Halloween weekend.” The newspaper’s investigation also outlined “multiple allegations of drugging members in undisclosed fraternity chapters and three specific hazing allegations reported this week where fraternity members were put in alleged near-death situations.”

It has been reported from university spokespeople that a team is actively investigating the allegations outlined in The Daily’s report. The Offices of Lee Steinberg will be following this story as it unfolds and new details emerge. In the meantime, we wanted to share information on the serious dangers related to hazing such as death and personal injury. We also want to help you understand how you as a parent or friend can prevent these acts from occurring.

What You Don’t Know About Hazing

In United States, including right here in Michigan, tens of thousands of young men and women get involved in school organizations each year. That organization may be a branch of the military, a fraternity or sorority, a sports or extracurricular athletic team, or really any of the hundreds of other organized groups available to students. Sadly, and as innocent as it may seem to some, there is one commonality these groups all share — hazing. According to hazingprevention.org, hazing is defined as any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. Other facts about hazing include:

  • Since 1970, at least one student has died from Greek Life hazing each year.
  • Hazing is often about power and control and does not build unity.
  • More than half of students in colleges and universities involved in clubs, sports teams and organizations have experienced hazing.
  • A significant number of hazing incidents and deaths involve alcohol consumption.
  • Students are more likely to be hazed if they knew an adult who was hazed.
  • 2 in 5 students say they are aware of hazing taking place on their campus.
  • While hazing occurs in middle schools and high schools, most takes place at colleges.
  • Both male and female students report a high level of hazing.

Some organizations have traditions or hazing rituals that are meant to ‘prove’ an individual’s commitment and worthiness to join the group or fit in with others. Despite universities going to great lengths to prevent these illegal acts, as we have now read in the University of Michigan report, hazing still occurs today. It is important that both parents, university staff and student bystanders, educate themselves to prevent, recognize, and report any hazing that does occur.

Recognize the Warning Signs of Hazing

A hazing victim may or may not feel comfortable expressing concern directly if they have been attacked. Here are some key things provided from hazingprevention.org to look for that might help identify whether or not someone may be experiencing hazing:

  • Sudden change in behavior or attitude after joining the organization or team
  • Wanting to leave the organization or team with no real explanation
  • Sudden decrease in communication with friends and family
  • Physical or psychological exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained injuries or illness
  • Change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Expressed feeling of sadness or feeling of worthlessness
  • Increase in secrecy and unwillingness to share details
  • Health and well-being concerns

If you or someone else is at risk of being involved in a hazing incident please get help or immediately dial 911 if in immediate danger.

Michigan’s Hazing Law

Hazing is illegal in Michigan under the law commonly known as “Garret’s Law,” which is codified under M.C.L.A. 750.411(t). According to the law, “Hazing” means an intentional, knowing, or reckless act by a person acting alone or acting with others that is directed against an individual and that the person knew or should have known endangers the physical health or safety of the individual, and that is done for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, participating in, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization.

Highlights of the Garret’s Law include:

Subject to subsection (5), hazing includes any of the following that is done for such a purpose:

(i) Physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity.

(ii) Physical activity, such as sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small space, or calisthenics, that subjects the other person to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the physical health or safety of the individual.

(iii) Activity involving consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance that subjects the individual to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the physical health or safety of the individual.

(iv) Activity that induces, causes, or requires an individual to perform a duty or task that involves the commission of a crime or an act of hazing.

Hazing offenses may also result in civil lawsuits, allowing the injured person to collect monetary damages from the individual(s) liable for any personal injuries.

College Hazing and Related Personal Injuries Attorneys

Most Michigan personal injury cases are fact-intensive and deserve special attention. Hazing incidents are no different and demand immediate action for justice. Your child’s school has an obligation to keep them safe. If it has failed to do so, and your child was the victim of hazing by a college fraternity, sorority, club, or athletic team, your child has legal rights and could claim pain and suffering damages.

Whether you live in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Traverse City or anywhere in between, if you or your student has been injured due to a hazing act call us for free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733).

Buggy Accident in Montcalm County Kills Three Children

Triple-Fatal-Buggy Crash in Montcalm County Highlights Greater Need for Roadside Awareness

A Michigan family was headed to their Old Order Mennonite church when they and their horse-drawn buggy were involved in an accident with a Dodge 4×4 pickup truck. The horrific accident took place on a two-lane stretch in central Michigan’s Evergreen Township in Montcalm County, about an hour’s drive from Lansing.

Michigan State Police say the horse and buggy was carrying a family of nine when a 29-year-old man from Sheridan struck the buggy from behind with his truck. Tragically, three children were pronounced dead at the scene while four others, ages 18 months thru 8-years-old survived with injuries, some severe. The parents sustained critical injuries and remain hospitalized. The parents are both expected to recover, but it was reported by family members that they suffered serious brain and spinal injuries.

The driver of the Dodge pickup was not injured, and Michigan State Troopers say he was cooperative and do not believe drugs or alcohol were involved. A formal investigation is underway.

Avoiding a Collision with a Horse-Drawn Buggy 

While not nearly as significant as neighboring Indiana or Ohio, Michigan is home to a large Mennonite (and Amish) population. If you’re driving in central or northern Michigan and need to stop for gas in the area, it wouldn’t be unusual to see either a Mennonite or Amish man and his family traveling by horse and buggy. At times, the slower speed of the horse-drawn vehicles may frustrate drivers of faster-moving cars when the buggy backs up traffic on rural roads. But the most common cause of a tragic accident with these small, black, slower buggies is a rear-end collision. Here are some tips on how to avoid one.

  • According to Amish America, the typical horse-drawn buggy speed is just five to eight miles per hour. Because of this, vehicles driving at regular posted speed limits will approach a buggy quickly. Horse-drawn buggies may be even slower when pulling heavy loads or when crossing intersections. Slow down and remain aware of how close you really are to the buggy.
  • When approaching and passing a horse-drawn buggy, remember that horses are unpredictable and even the most road-safe horse can spook at a fast-moving motor vehicle. Be sure to slow down and give buggies and horse-drawn equipment plenty of room when passing.
  • Allow yourself time to recognize and respond when coming upon other vehicles, by leaving space between your vehicle and a buggy stopped at a stop sign or light. A good rule of thumb is to stop your vehicle far enough back so that you can see where the rear wheels of the buggy touch the road.

Know the areas where buggies tend to travel and remain extra cautious. Pay attention to speed limits, buggy lights and hazard signs, and never drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol or while being distracted.

Contact Us Now About Your Buggy Accident 

No matter what you might be driving, including a horse-drawn buggy, our attorneys at The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg are Michigan roadway accident experts. We have represented accident victims for over 40 years. If you have been involved in a crash, we will fight to ensure you receive the compensation and benefits you deserve under the law. Please call The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg and speak to our accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your accident case.

Waymo Self-Driving Cars Will Be Testing In Detroit This Winter

Michigan’s Snowy Roads Serve as Platform for Self-Driving Car Test

With snow expected to hit many parts of Michigan in the coming weeks – Waymo, formerly known as the producer behind the Google self-driving car project, has committed to send its self-driving technology to Michigan roads this year. The vehicles will test how the mix of winter conditions affect the way an autonomous vehicle handles the road. Executives say although they have been running cold weather testing since 2012, they felt it important to add the Greater Detroit area to the test market. The goal is to further improve technology and make sure the vehicles can operate safely in all kinds of environments including Michigan’s dreaded snow, sleet and ice packed roads. The company is also looking at this testing as an opportunity to assess the way sensors perform in wet, cold conditions and build on teaching the cars how to handle things like skidding on icy, unplowed roads.

Waymo CEO, John Krafcik wrote in an October 2017 blog, “Michigan is a natural choice for Waymo’s winter testing. In May 2016, we opened our 53,000 sq ft. self-driving technology development center in Novi so we could more easily collaborate with our Michigan partners. Since then, Waymo’s local engineers have been working on many different parts of our technology, including outfitting our fleet of Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans with our Waymo-designed and built suite of sensors.”

Waymo claims to have the most experienced cars on the road, with over 8 years and 3.5 million self-driven miles to date. 

Will Self-Driving Cars Make Tomorrow’s Roads Safer?

It’s estimated that every year, 1.2 million lives are lost to traffic crashes around the world, and in the U.S. the number of tragedies is growing. In Michigan alone, traffic deaths increased the last two years by 10 percent, up from 963 in 2015 to 1,064 in 2016, according to information from Michigan State Police. The number of fatalities made 2016 the worst year in more than a decade for the state.

A striking commonality of most traffic crashes is that 94 percent will involve human error. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report inattention and distraction, driving too fast for conditions, illegal maneuver and misjudgment of gap or others’ speed, poor directional control, and drowsy driving and sleep as just some of the most critical reasons for the high number of human errors that causes crashes.

As self-driving technology is aimed to create a reduction in human error, driving may become much safer than it is today and save thousands of lives from driver error induced crashes. And with so many conversations about the autonomous driver, if an accident did occur – where will that liability shift to? Stay with the driver or move to the car manufacturer or the author of the new technology? We look forward to continuing this conversation as automated driving takes control of our roadways in the future. Stay connected with us!

Our Offices

The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. was founded by nationally recognized attorney Lee Steinberg in 1973. Beginning with a small office in northwest Detroit, Lee has grown his practice into a prosperous and successful law firm with offices throughout the State of Michigan. Lee has tried cases to verdict in various jurisdictions throughout the country, and his staff of dedicated lawyers fight each day for the compensation their clients deserve.

Protect your legal rights and contact Lee Free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) today for a free consultation. We look forward to answering your questions and working for hard for you.

Plaintiff Wins Out In No-Fault Fraud Case

Michigan Assigned Claims Plan Wins Fraud Case in Michigan No-Fault Accident

The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a decision that affects individuals involved in a Michigan car accident that are receiving benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims, now known as the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF). The Court ruled that based upon the language of MCL 500.3173(a)(2), a person who submits knowingly false and material statements used to obtain no-fault benefits is precluded from recovering all benefits for the claim.

In Candler v. Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co. of Michigan, (docket no. 332998, published 10/24/17), the plaintiff was hit by a hit-and-run driver. Because he was uninsured at the time of the car accident, and no other car insurance could be established, he made a claim for PIP benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP). The Plan assigned Farm Bureau Insurance to handle the claim.

Over the next year, Farm Bureau paid out various no-fault PIP benefits to the plaintiff, including attendant care and replacement services. Among the documentation turned into Farm Bureau by the plaintiff were replacement service calendars for certain months in 2015. The calendars were signed by the plaintiff’s brother, showing that he did the household chores for his brother due to his brother’s car accident injuries. However, it was learned that the plaintiff’s brother did not do the replacement services during those months. Instead, the plaintiff had forged his brother’s name to those calendars.

Not a Unanimous Decision

Defendant Farm Bureau then filed a motion to dismiss not just the replacement service claim, but the entire no-fault claim for all benefits. The trial court denied Farm Bureau’s motion, but on appeal the Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision ruled in favor of Farm Bureau and dismissed the entire case.

The reaching its decision, the majority analyzed the language of MCL 500.3173(a), which states when a Michigan no-fault claim is submitted to the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, “a claim that contains or is supported by a fraudulent insurance act as described in this subjection is ineligible for payment or benefits under the assigned claims plan.”

Farm Bureau argued that because the plaintiff submitted replacement service calendars that were forged, he committed fraud under the statute and the entire PIP no-fault claim should have been dismissed. However, the plaintiff argued the statute requires that the fraudulent be submitted to the MAIPF. Because in this case the forged replacement service calendars were submitted to Farm Bureau Insurance, the servicing insurer, and not the MAIPF, the statute was not violated and the plaintiff’s PIP claim should not be dismissed.

The majority agreed with Farm Bureau’s point of view. Even though the statute does require that the false statement be presented “as part of or in support of a claim to the MAIPF,” the MAIPF was involved because it ultimately assigned the claim to Farm Bureau and was part of the no-fault process. Therefore, the plaintiff’s claim for no-fault benefit is a claim to the MAIPF, not to Farm Bureau. Because there was a fraudulent act committed by the plaintiff that violated MCL 500.3173, Farm Bureau was entitled to dismissal.

The dissenting judge took the side of the plaintiff. The judge said the majority took the mistaken view MCL 500.3173 requires the withholding of benefits whenever a false statement is presented to a servicing insurer simply because an initial claim was presented to the MAIPF. But the statute does not say this. The statute only says that false statements made as part of or in support of a claim must be presented to the MAIPF before a person may be found ineligible for PIP benefits. The statute does not say that false statements made to assigned member insurers, like Farm Bureau, was a basis for denial of benefits. Because no false statement was made to the MAIPF, the plaintiff’s claim should not have been dismissed.

Was This Ruled Correctly?

This is interesting case because this decision turns on one’s analysis of statutory construction. Judges always like to say they are enforcing the law as written, But here we have two judges that frankly read the statute the way they want to see it, not the way it is written. It is result oriented in the worst sense.

The statute specifically says the fraudulent documentation must be submitted to the MAIPF for a case to be dismissed under MCL 500.3173(a). In this case, the fraudulent documentation was not submitted to the MAIPF, but instead to Farm Bureau Insurance. While this may sound like splitting hairs, it is vitally important.

The dissenting judge in my opinion correctly interpreted the statute as it was written. The plaintiff’s claim should not have been dismissed. Because of the majority’s ruling, all the doctors who treated the plaintiff will not be able to get their medical bills paid by the auto carrier. This despite the fact the plaintiff’s fraudulent act was merely about who actually did his household chores, and had nothing to do with his medical treatment.

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