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Volume XXVIII, No. 14, May 13, 2016
From the Law Offices of Garan Lucow Miller, P.C.
From the Editor: Sarah Nadeau
COURT OF APPEALS ADDRESSES HOW SPECIFIC A NOTICE OF INJURY
MUST BE UNDER MCL 500.3145(1)
By Andrew J. Beck
In a May 3, 2016 published Court of Appeals opinion, the Court addressed the issue of how specific a notice of injury must be under MCL 500.3145(1), addressing whether notice under MCL 500.3145(1) must identify a specific injury leading to a later claim for benefits. In Dillon v State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, ___ Mich App ___ (2016), the plaintiff was injured in an August 2008 accident, having been struck by a motor vehicle as she was crossing a street. Her initial complaints were of upper and lower back pain, and various abrasions. Radiology studies from the date of loss were negative. Plaintiff reported the accident to a representative from State Farm, complaining of low back and left shoulder pain, as well as abrasions. State Farm made payments related to those injuries. Significantly, plaintiff made no mention of an injury to her left hip.
Almost three years post-accident, in March 2011, plaintiff first sought treatment for her left hip. She again sought treatment in December 2011, and a February 3, 2012 arthrogram revealed a left anterosuperior quadrant labral tear/detachment. Arthroscopic surgery was performed in March 2012. Plaintiff related the left hip injury to the August 2008 accident and sought PIP benefits from State Farm. State Farm denied her claim on the basis that it had not received proper notice of the left hip injury within one year of the accident.
The trial court denied State Farm’s motion for summary disposition on the issue of the one-year notice provision, and a jury found in favor of plaintiff at trial. State Farm appealed arguing that in her notice of injury to State Farm, plaintiff needed to specifically identify an injury to her left hip in order to then later pursue a claim for benefits related to treatment for her left hip. Specifically, the Court addressed the meaning of the last sentence of MCL 500.3145(1): “The notice shall give the name and address of the claimant and indicate in ordinary language the name of the person injured and the time, place and nature of his injury.”
In support of its arguments on appeal, State Farm offered some unpublished decisions of the Court of Appeals, which the Dillon court found unpersuasive. Notably, State Farm was unable to cite one published decision of either the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court to clearly resolve the issue presented. The Court found some guidance, however, in Welton v Carrier Ins Co, 421 Mich 571; 365 NW2d 170 (1984), in which the Supreme Court viewed the notice of injury required by MCL 500.3145(1) in more general, broad terms than the position offered by State Farm. The Dillon Court then dissected the structure of the statute itself, noting that the Legislature omitted the use of a definite article in “notice of injury”. The Court posited that if the Legislature intended for “notice of injury” to identify a specific injury, MCL 500.3145(1) would have provided “notice of the injury” must be given.
The Court determined that because plaintiff gave notice of injury within one year of the accident, MCL 500.3145(1) allows her to recover PIP benefits for any loss incurred within one year of the filing of suit.
INDY CITY SEMINAR
Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. is pleased to present its seventh annual Indy City Seminar, covering both Indiana and Michigan law, as well as a full Deposition Boot Camp, on Thursday, May 19, 2016 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, 350 West Maryland Street, Indianapolis, IN 46225, (317) 822-3500. The day will begin with a continental breakfast and registration at 8:30 a.m., followed by the morning program. Lunch will then be provided. In the afternoon, please join us for our Deposition Boot Camp program. Comprehensive written materials will be distributed to all seminar attendees.
If you are able to attend this complimentary client program, please register via e-mail with Eileen Carty at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ms. Carty at (800) 875-7600. We hope to see you there!
8:30 – 8:55 a.m. Continental Breakfast and Registration
8:55 – 9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introduction
Speaker: Gregory M. Bokota, Esq.
9:00 – 9:40 a.m. Comprehensive Indiana Law Updates
Speaker: Gregory M. Bokota
9:40 – 10:00 a.m Uber and Self-Driving Vehicles: the Implications on Coverage and Liability from Developing Technology
Speaker: David A. Couch, Esq.
10:00 – 10:30 a.m Real Property Aspects of Michigan PIP Home Modifications
Speaker: Rachel A. Bissett, Esq.
10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Morning Break
10:45 – 11:30 a.m. Comprehensive Michigan First Party No Fault PIP Updates
Speakers: John W. Whitman, Esq. and Rachel A. Bissett, Esq.
11:30 – 12:00 p.m. Bad Faith Claims in Indiana and Illinois
Speaker: Jennifer E. Davis, Esq.
12:00 – 12:15 p.m. Question and Answer Session
12:15 – 12:45 p.m. Lunch Provided
12:45 – 3:00 p.m. Deposition Boot Camp
Speaker: John W. Whitman, Esq.