Michigan Court of Appeals Rules No Liability for Second Accident Caused by Aftermath of First Accident

On August 9, 2016, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a driver at fault for an accident is not at fault for injuries to a driver that subsequently crashes into disabled accident vehicles on the road. In Tanikowski v. Jacisin, Plaintiff Leonard Tanikowski was driving on a three lane highway, approaching the scene of an accident. He was tired and wanted to get to a hotel to sleep. He was traveling in a lane where there was a two-car rollover accident ahead. Instead of merging into the slowed/stopped traffic on either side of the accident, Mr. Tanikowski chose to veer in between the two disabled vehicles. He missed the first disabled vehicle, driven by Christopher Switzer, who was at fault for the first accident. However, he collided with the second vehicle, suffering injuries. He sued Switzer and the trial court dismissed his case. He appealed.

The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the driver could not sue because Switzer, the driver responsible for the first accident, because the driver at fault for the first accident could not have been anticipated or foreseen. The court of appeals held that despite Switzer’s negligence for causing the first accident, Mr. Tanikowski caused an entirely separate and distinct accident, and thus he could not sue.

The law firm of Numinen, DeForge & Mathieu, PC represents drivers injured by at-fault drivers under the Michigan No-Fault act. The firm represents clients throughout the Upper Peninsula, including Marquette, Houghton, Sault Ste. Marie, Escanaba, Menominee and Iron Mountain. To speak to an attorney, please contact Phil Toutant at phillip@numinenlaw.com or at (906) 226-2580.

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