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A Better Partnership
September 30, 2013

MSC grants leave to decide whether wage loss qualifies as a “bodily injury,” thereby allowing a plaintiff to avoid application of governmental immunity.

In Hannay v. Department of Transportation, the plaintiff was injured after a state salt truck ran a stop sign and struck her car.  Her injuries prevented her from becoming a dental hygienist.  In addition to other damages, the trial court awarded the plaintiff economic damages for her work loss as a hygienist.  On appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals, the state argued that the wage loss damages award was improper because the governmental tort liability act (“GTLA”) only waives governmental immunity for liability related to “bodily injury and property damage," not wage loss.  The court of appeals disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s wage loss damages award.

The Michigan Supreme Court granted the state’s application for leave to appeal and asked the parties to address two questions:

(1)   whether economic loss in the form of wage loss may qualify as a “bodily injury” that permits a plaintiff to avoid the application of governmental immunity from tort liability under the motor vehicle exception to governmental immunity; and

(2)   whether the evidence in this case establishes that the plaintiff incurred a loss of income from work that she would have performed as opposed to a loss of earning capacity.

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