Negligence

In a Michigan negligence action, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act; the defendant breached their duty; the breach of the duty caused an injury to the plaintiff; the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury and the plaintiff suffered damages.

Comparative Negligence

At one time, Michigan followed a contributory negligence standard when dealing with a negligence case. However, that all changed in Placek v. Sterling Hts, 405 Mich 638, 650, 275 NW2d 511 (1979). That case involved a car accident where the plaintiff, Patricia Placek, while passing a car that was turning right at a four-way intersection, struck a police car on an emergency run that had driven through a stop sign. In the lower court and the Court of Appeals, both the plaintiff and defendant had been found partially liable for the accident. The driver with the right of way, Placek, was not fully absolved of their duty to drive with due care and caution, and the police officer, though permitted to speed and ignore other traffic laws while on an emergency run, retained the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of others. The finding resulted in the dismissal of the case, based on the common law doctrine of contributory negligence which states that an action for damages may not be rewarded if both parties to an accident are at fault.

The case was appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court where the Court unanimously decided to replace the doctrine of contributory negligence with that of comparative negligence, which states that the fault of both parties may be weighed to determine who was at greater fault; thus, under the new doctrine, Placek could be found deserving of recovery, even though she was partly at fault for causing the accident.

Today, a plaintiff is able to recover for personal injury caused by the negligent actions of another as long as the plaintiff was 50% or less at fault for the injury. If this is the case, the plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned. If the plaintiff is found to have been 51% or more at fault, the plaintiff will be barred from recovery.

In 1996, Michigan enacted tort reform and created a statutory modified comparative fault scheme, as well as a related non-party fault scheme.

Joint & Several Liability

Under Michigan law, in most cases several liability is applied so that each defendant is only financially responsible for an amount which is proportionate to the percentage of fault attributed to each defendant. However, there are many exceptions to this general rule.

Where one defendant has paid more than their proportional share of liability that defendant has the right to seek contribution against any other joint defendant who has not paid their proportional share.

Damages

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.

Compensatory damages include reasonable expenses necessary for medical care; hospitalization and treatment; economic loss from loss of income (both past and future); pain and suffering; disability; disfigurement; and mental anguish.

Michigan has enacted a statutory cap of $280,000 on non-economic damage award in product liability actions. This cap on non-economic damages increases to $500,000 in product liability cases where the defect in the product caused the person’s death or resulted in the permanent loss of a vital bodily function. Mich. Comp. Laws Sec. 600.2946a.

Punitive Damages

Michigan law does not allow for a damages award which is meant to punish or deter certain reprehensible conduct. Exemplary damages are recognized in Michigan; however, they are meant only to compensate the plaintiff for humiliation, sense of outrage and indignity resulting from injuries caused by the willful, wanton and malicious conduct of the defendant.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Alabama. Should you have a question/concern specific to Alabama law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Michigan. Should you have a question/concern specific to Michigan law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan.