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Michigan Supreme Court reverses a key case related to Michigan No-Fault Insurance!!

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Michigan Supreme Court reverses a key case related to Michigan No-Fault Insurance

A sometimes misunderstood part of the Michigan auto insurance policy are the bodily injury (BI) liability coverages and the personal injury protection (PIP) coverages. BI is your coverage for injuries caused to someone else while you drive your vehicle. However, under Michigan no-fault law, YOUR insurance policy pays for auto-related injuries to YOU, even when someone else is responsible.

For example, suppose that Joe is driving down the road, stops at a stop sign, looks both ways, and proceeds through an intersection believing it is safe to do so and having properly followed all traffic laws. Suddenly, while in the intersection, Joe spots a car careening towards him. This other car fails to stop at the stop sign, and crashes into Joe damaging his car and causing him injury.  Even though the other driver is probably at fault here, Joe can’t sue the other driver for his injuries unless they are very severe. Instead, the PIP coverage on Joe’s auto policy will pay for the expenses related to Joe’s injuries.

The Michigan Supreme Court issued its opinion on Sunday 8/1/2010 regarding a piece of legislation that may change all this. (http://www.freep.com/article/20100802/NEWS06/100802062/1320/New-standard-set-in-Michigan-injury-lawsuits)  The case that was overturned was Kreiner v Fischer. This is likely to cause an increase in auto insurance rates in the state of Michigan according to the Insurance Institute of Michigan (IIM). In a 2007 press release from the IIM regarding the Kreiner decision (http://www.iiminfo.org/Portals/44/Position/Tort%20Threshold%20Change.pdf). Opponents of the Kreiner decision charge that the Kreiner decision drastically alters the definition of serious impairment of body function and will prohibit persons who suffer serious injuries from pursuing legitimate claims in the court.  However, supporters of the Kreiner decision argue that the case upholds the original intent of the no-fault system to allow lawsuits for non-economic damages only for the most serious of injuries.

It is not hard to imagine that this decision from the Michigan Supreme Court, overturning Kreiner, will probably open the door to more lawsuits related to auto accidents.

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Blind Drivers – Who would have seen that coming?

August 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The National Federation of the Blind’s Jernigan Institute issued a challenge in 2004 that was accepted by only the Virginia Tech Blind Driver Challenge Team. The institute issued a $3000 grant to launch the project in 2006 and since then the Virginia Tech team has wasted no time in making great strides towards one common goal – to create an operable vehicle that does not require sight.

Dennis Hong, a mechanical engineering and robotic professor, and nine undergraduate students from Virginia Tech University designed and constructed a special car that caters specifically to the blind!

In order to allow the blind to navigate the car, the Virginia Tech team integrated laser range finders, voice command controls, and other sensory devices.

The multi-sensory interface includes but is not limited to a vest that either vibrates or shakes depending on whether the driver needs to slow down or completely stop, has the ability to measure how far the vehicle is from the side of the road and other objects, and is able to instruct the driver how to operate the steering wheel in response to the outside stimuli; the instructions are delivered to the driver through a verbal command.

This system will not only improve the quality of life for the vision-impaired, it has the ability to improve the quality of life for everyone! It has been proposed that such technology be included in regular cars as warning systems to help encourage safe driving techniques, farm equipment to reduce accidents, and even walkers to increase safety and ease when navigating through traffic.

Although great strides are being made towards designing a car that will allow the blind to operate a vehicle freely, it has not been proposed as to how auto insurance will be handled.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/AheadoftheCurve/story?id=8168749&page=1