Noneconomic Damages

If you were in a Michigan automobile accident and sustained a “threshold injury,” then you are entitled to recover damages for noneconomic loss. Noneconomic losses consist of those losses that affect a person’s quality of life, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, scarring, incapacity, diminished social pleasures, loss of social life, mental anguish and emotional distress. A “threshold injury” consists of one or more of the following: serious impairment of body function; permanent serious disfigurement; or death.

What is a Serious Impairment of Body Function? According the Michigan law, a Serious Impairment of Body Function means an “objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.” In other words, the courts will compare how you lived your life before the accident versus after the accident. There are several factors that the Court may consider in determining whether you sustained a “Serious Impairment of Body Function.” Those factors include: the nature and extent of the impairment; the type and length of treatment required; the duration of the impairment; the extent of any residual impairment; and the prognosis for eventual recovery. However, this list is not meant to be exclusive nor are any of the individual factors meant to be dispositive by themselves. (Kreiner v Fisher). The impairment does not have to be permanent.

What is a Permanent Serious Disfigurement? The Court did not define the threshold element of “permanent serious disfigurement.” Whether your case meets the threshold of permanent serious disfigurement depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.   Whether a scar amounts to a permanent serious disfigurement depends on its physical characteristics rather than its effect on the victim’s ability to live a normal life. For example, a 6” scar on a woman’s face would be considered serious versus the same 6” scar on the woman’s foot. This is because the scar on the woman’s face is easily seen and would naturally case more embarrassment, humiliation, lack of self-confidence, etc. whereas the scar on her foot may never even be seen.