Emotional Inuries

Michigan does recognize a cause of action for emotional injuries under certain circumstances.

An individual is entitled to recover damages for the death or injury to a close family member if the emotional distress is suffered by Plaintiff contemporaneously with the injury. However, the Plaintiff must allege some physical manifestation of mental injuries in order to recover damages under a policy providing coverage for bodily injury, sickness or disease. See Greenman v Michigan Mutual Insurance Company, 173 Mich App 88 (1988). Additionally, the emotional injury must still meet the threshold of serious impairment of body function. See Luce v Gerow, 89 Mich App 546 (1979).

Plaintiff has the burden of pleading and proving that he sustained a physical manifestation of the emotional injuries. In other words there is no cause for action where an individual sustains mental damages only. See Henley v Department of State Highways and Transportation, 128 Mich App 214 (1983).

In Garris v Vanderlaan, 146 Mich App 619 (1986), Plaintiff complained that, among other things, she experienced psychological problems which were manifested in feelings of anger because of time lost due to her physical injuries. A psychiatrist found that the Plaintiff experienced anxiety, tension and anger. He diagnosed her condition as post-traumatic neurosis characterized by depression, anxiety, confusion and isolation. He believed that these conditions were, in fact, related to the automobile accident.

Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Disposition which was granted by the Trial Court. The Court of Appeals affirmed, stating:

***under the facts of this case, while Plaintiff’s post-traumatic neurosis allegedly resulted in anxiety, nervousness and feelings of anger, such symptoms did not constitute an objectively manifested injury. Plaintiff’s alleged symptoms are purely subjective. It cannot be said that Plaintiff’s post-traumatic neurosis surpasses the significant barrier imposed by the legislature in requiring a ‘serious impairment of body function’ for recovery of non-economic losses ***”.

The Court also concluded that Plaintiff was capable of carrying out her normal activities of daily living. As such, Plaintiff had failed to provide sufficient evidence of a threshold injury.