• Michigan Motorcycle Accident Attorney Obtains Significant Jury Verdict in Bike Accident Insurance Trial
  • March 29, 2011 | Authors: Daniel L. Buckfire; Lawrence J. Buckfire; George Burke; Tom Economy; Robert J. Lantzy
  • Law Firm: Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. - Southfield Office
  • The Michigan motorcycle accident attorneys at the Southfield, Michigan personal injury law firm of Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. recently obtained a significant jury verdict in a motorcycle accident insurance trial. Attorney George Burke was the lead trial attorney in this lawsuit filed by Grange Insurance Company against four bikers injured in a motorcycle accident. The insurance company has refused to pay essential Michigan No Fault Insurance benefits to the motorcyclists and their passengers that resulted from a September 20, 2008 accident.

    The motorcycle accident took place on Jefferson in Columbia Township, Michigan. One of the motorcyclists was traveling eastbound when he observed approximately 300 other motorcyclist traveling westbound. The westbound motorcyclists were on a charity "poker run" for other fallen bikers. Unfortunately the eastbound motorcyclist did not see that a Chevy Suburban had stopped in the roadway. It is believed that the operator of the Suburban placed his motor vehicle in park as the brake lights and taillights were not illuminated. The lack of brake lights and taillights on the Suburban slowed the perception reaction time of the eastbound motorcyclists. The eastbound motorcyclist was forced to lay his bike down, sliding into the rear of the Suburban and bouncing off the Suburban into the westbound lane, striking one of the westbound motorcyclists.

    The injuries on the motorcyclist varied from sprains, road rash, to broken bones requiring surgery. The surgeries varied from arthroscopic surgeries to open reduction internal fixation surgery with screws and plates. The worst injured motorcyclist was off work for approximately 10 months and when she returned to work her position was filled and she was denoted.

    The case was tried before a jury for two days in the Monroe County Circuit Court. The insurance company agreed as to the amount of medical expenses, attendant care services, household services, and lost wages incurred by the accident victims as a result of the incident. However, the insurance company disputed it was responsible for paying those benefits based upon its contention that there was no involvement with its insured vehicle (the Suburban) at the time of the accident. "Involvement" does not require contact, but if there is contact with a motor vehicle then the motorcyclist were entitled to Michigan No Fault benefits.

    The trial judge granted the injured bikers a directed verdict. The directed verdict meant that the injured motorcyclists had prevailed at trial and awarded them all of their claimed benefits. The jury then returned to the jury room to deliberate whether they should assess penalty interest against Grange Insurance Company for their unreasonable denial of the no-fault benefits. The jury determined that the insurance company must pay $50,000 in penalty interest for improperly denying the claims. Based upon this determination and other factors under the Michigan No Fault Insurance laws, the trial court can award significant attorney's fees against the insurance company and for the injured motorcyclists. A Motion for Attorney's Fees for a determination as the amount of those fees will be filed with the trial court shortly.