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Traumatic Brain Injuries from a Car Crash and the Michigan Closed Head Injury Exception

by David M Clark on Jun. 13, 2012

Accident & Injury Car Accident Accident & Injury  Personal Injury 

Summary: Brain Injuries Resulting from an auto accident are more common than you think and roughly 2 million Americans are affected by this serious injury every year.

Brain Injuries Resulting from an auto accident are more common than you think and roughly 2 million Americans are affected by this serious injury every year. Unfortunately, the costs of dealing with a brain injury can be extreme, and recovering damages from a 3rd party lawsuit can be critical when you or your family is forced to deal with this tragic situation. The costs of dealing with a TBI (traumatic brain injury) can last a lifetime and require constant daily medical attention. The pain and suffering involved in such an injury can be devastating, and the injured victim should be able to recover damages to help pay for these costs and expenses. A third party suit is available to injured victims where the other driver was negligent which caused the accident. Michigan’s no-fault law makes it extremely difficult to collect these damages because we have a no-fault auto insurance system in place, but you still have hope if you suffered a brain injury.  Hiring an experienced attorney can greatly increase your chance of financial compensation.  For more information about no-fault and what needs to be proved in a brain injury case, visit

In the event of a traumatic brain injury, Michigan law gives an exception to the usual thresholds which must be met for your ability to bring a third party suit for pain and suffering and excess wage loss. Michigan law understands the nature of these injuries and the fact that the symptoms can be extremely hard to detect. The closed head exception is stated in MCL 500.3135 and reads “There is a factual dispute concerning the nature and extent of the person's injuries, but the dispute is not material to the determination as to whether the person has suffered a serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement. However, for a closed-head injury, a question of fact for the jury is created if a licensed allopathic or osteopathic physician who regularly diagnoses or treats closed-head injuries testifies under oath that there may be a serious neurological injury.”

Essentially, this closed-head injury exception makes it unnecessary to prove that the injury is objectively manifested. The term objectively manifested can be quite confusing and it is highly debated between Michigan auto accident attorneys and the auto insurance providers. It basically means that the impairment from the injury can be seen and evidenced through symptoms and conditions by someone else besides the actual injured person. These evidenced symptoms and conditions must also show that the person has sustained an important bodily function. Could Michigan lawmakers make this more confusing? This threshold makes it difficult to bring a third party lawsuit and that’s the way the insurance providers prefer things. In the case of a traumatic brain injury, you do not have to meet this threshold thanks to the closed head exception. Brain Injuries may not be observable to an outsider and this is the real reason this exception was made. A person could be suffering from major brain injuries but a loss of important body functions would most likely not be observable by other people even though it may be even more severe than say a permanent spinal injury. This exception can be the difference of not being able to bring a third party suit and recovering damages for pain and suffering, excess wage loss, mental anguish, fright and shock, and other damages.

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