In The News

In The News

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


By Michael Nichols
Categories: Personal Injury

On April 13, 2012, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision in the unpublished case of Paletta v Oakland County Road Commission.  In Paletta, the motorcyclist stuck loose gravel in the travel portion of the asphalt roadway.  It was alleged that the County Road Commission created this condition by scraping or grading the shoulder, which deposited the loose gravel onto the roadway.  As a result of hitting the loose gravel, the motorcyclist crashed his motorcycle and sustained serious injuries.  The Court of Appeals said the Road Commission was liable; however, on April 13, 2012, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and said that gravel is not a defect and that the “accumulation of gravel on the paved roadway was not actionable under the highway exception to the governmental tort liability act because an accumulation of gravel, whether natural or otherwise, does not implicate the defendant’s duty to maintain the highway in ‘reasonable repair’”.  MCL 691.1402(1); Nawrocki v McComb Co Rd Comm’n; Estate of Buckner v City of Lansing;.Paletta v Oakland County Road Commission.

 What does this mean for Michigan motorcyclist?  If a motorcyclist crashes his bike and sustains serious injuries as a result of hitting loose gravel in the roadway, whether deposited there by the road commission or appears naturally, the motorist cannot sue because it is not a “defect”.  Michigan motorcyclist will need to take extra precaution to watch for the loose gravel on their turns.  Especially with the added new law wherein Michigan motorcyclist are no longer required to wear a helmet.  The government (i.e. Road Commission) can be liable for injuries caused by a defective highway.  The question is whether your accident is considered caused by a “defective” highway. 
The Governmental Immunity statute can be confusing.  If you are in a motorcycle accident or automobile accident, you need to talk to a skilled attorney to determine if you have a case.  Attorney Wendy Schiller-Nichols can help you determine if you have a case and, if so, can help you start putting your life back together. 517-432-9000

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.