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After Jury Trial, Uncertainty About Causation Proves Fatal to Automobile Negligence Claim

Motor Vehicle Litigation / January 8, 2020

Under Michigan’s No-Fault Act, tort liability is generally abolished. However, a person injured in a motor vehicle accident may still bring a tort claim if they suffer a “threshold” injury, i.e., a “serious impairment of body function.” MCL 500.3135; McCormick v Carrier, 487 Mich 180, 189 (2010).

However, such plaintiffs must still prove the elements of a tort case – that the defendant’s negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Causation can be particularly difficult to prove in cases involving pre-existing injuries, as demonstrated by Owen v Conto.

In Owen, there was evidence “of a significant medical condition for which the plaintiff required surgery.Id. at 5. However, there was also “evidence from which a jury could decide that the” motor vehicle accident “did not cause that physical condition.Id.

The jury in Owen determined that the Plaintiff was not injured in the motor vehicle accident and – despite multiple claims of error by the Plaintiff – the Court of Appeals affirmed.

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