Court Holds “Bodily Injury” Damages Include “Pain and Suffering” and “Non-economic Damages” In “Motor Vehicle” Accident Claims Against Government

In a much awaited opinion, the Michigan Supreme Court has held that a claimant may recover “nonecconomic damages” such as “pain and suffering” and “emotional distress” damages and excess “economic damages” in actions against the government under the “motor vehicle” exception to governmental immunity.

Two lower appellate court cases came to opposite conclusions about whether the term “bodily injury” in the motor vehicle exception, Compiled Laws (MCL) 691.1405, including such excess economic and traditional, tort “noneconomic” damages.

Before this opinion, the Governmental Liability Act (GTLA) had been construed narrowly to the strictest confines of the definition of terminology used in that act.  However, the Court here rules that because the common law jurisprudential definition of the term “bodily injury” had traditionally included these types of damage claims, and because the Legislature never explicitly reined in that definition, even after passage of the 1964 GTLA, the statutory term as used in the “motor vehicle” exception, and, likely in other sections of the GTLA will make such damages available to the claimant in actions against the government.

Read the opinion here:  Hannay-Hunter Opinion Supreme Court

I submitted an amicus curiae brief in the Michigan Supreme Court calendar session on this case for Michigan Townships Association and the counties of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne.  (99705-sc-amicus-curiae-br).

I also participated in a panel discussion about this case at the State Bar Negligence Law Section meeting in September.

Read more extensively about this case, including the lower appellate court opinions in my previous post, here:

Supreme Court to Address Interplay (If Any) Between the No-Fault Act and the Governmental Tort Liability Act

If anyone has questions about this case and its impact, please let me know.

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