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MCL 500.3135 defines a "serious impairment of body function" as an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person's general ability to lead his or her normal life. MCL 500.3135(7). The Michigan Legislature has also expressly provided that whether a serious impairment of body function has occurred is a "question of law" for the court to decide unless there is a factual dispute regarding the nature and extent of injury and the dispute is relevant to deciding whether the standard is met. MCL 500.3135(2)(a). The Michigan Legislature has incorporated some language from DiFranco v. Pickard and Cassidy v. McGovern, but also made some significant changes.
Rodney McCormick, the injured party, broke his ankle when he was run over by a truck and underwent two surgeries. He was unable to return to the job he held prior to the accident. An attempt to recover under MCL 500.3135 was unsuccessful, and this appeal followed.
Did McCormick suffer a serious impairment of a body function under MCL 500.3135?
In reversing, the supreme court overruled the decision in Kreiner v Fischer, 471 Mich. 109, 683 N.W.2d 611 (2004). The supreme court then set forth the proper test for determining if there had been a serious impairment of a bodily function. Under MCL 500.3135(7), there were three prongs necessary to establish such. This analysis had to be conducted on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the supreme court was able to decide whether the threshold was met as a matter of law under MCL 500.3135(2)(a). McCormick showed an objectively manifested impairment of bodily function since he continued to suffer pain and a reduced range of motion that inhibited certain bodily functions. Further, the impaired body functions were important. Finally, McCormick showed that the impairment affected his general ability to lead his normal life because it influenced some of his capacity to live in his normal, pre-incident manner of living.