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  • Auto & Truck Accident Law

  • No-Fault Law Basics

  • No-Fault Law History

  • The No Fee Guarantee

  • What Happens When You Call Sam

  • It’s Better to Get More

  • Accidents Leave Damaged Lives

Michigan Car & Truck Accident Lawyers

Approximately 289,000 car and truck accidents occur in Michigan each year. These accidents cause over 71,000 injuries annually.

For many accident victims, the motor vehicle accident is only the beginning of the physical and emotional hardships they experience. Don’t delay in recovering all the benefits you deserve.

After an auto accident, the clock begins ticking to secure benefits that you are entitled to under Michigan law. An auto accident in MI raises several legal issues for the accident victim. Click on the drop-downs below to learn more about Michigan No-Fault law and the rights of car and truck accident victims.

Contact your auto accident lawyer in MI before talking with the insurance company. Signing the wrong papers could mean you have settled for less than you deserve.

To protect all your legal rights, you need a well-resourced law firm that is experienced with the complicated laws related to auto and truck accident legal claims. Studies have shown that injured parties represented by legal counsel obtain far greater recoveries than individuals who represent themselves.

Submit a simple, free consultation form now for help.

Get the Bernstein Advantage® today.

Legal Resources

The following sections have more information on Car & Truck Accidents:

  • What does “No Fault Insurance” mean?

    No Fault insurance is a system where your own insurance company pays most of your economic losses resulting from a car accident, whether or not it was your fault. These benefits are known as “First-Party Benefits” or “Personal Injury Protection (PIP)” benefits. These benefits include wage loss, medical bills, attendant care, and mileage reimbursement.

    Non-economic losses, including damages for pain and suffering for the injuries you suffer in an accident, are called “Third-Party Benefits”.  A Third-Party claim is filed against the driver whose negligence caused the car accident.

  • Michigan No-Fault Law Basics

    Under Michigan No-Fault law, an injured party is eligible for two types of benefits:  FIRST party benefits, which are derived from one’s own insurance company, and THIRD party benefits, which are usually derived from either the at-fault driver or vehicle’s insurance company.

    First party benefits include personal injury protection (PIP) and property protection (PPI) benefits.

    PIP includes the following:

    • 100% of medical costs;
    • 85% of lost wages for up to three years (with a maximum of $5,398/month as of 10/01/15);
    • survivor loss benefits (with a maximum of $5,398/month as of 10/01/15); and
    • up to $20/day in replacement services, which pays for routine household services, such as household chores and yard work.

    PPI includes the following:

    Up to $1,000,000 for damage to other people’s property or properly parked vehicles.

    Third party benefits include bodily injury and property damage.

    Bodily injury includes the following:

    Compensation for death, serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent disfigurement.  The amount of compensation payable by the insurance company is confined to the limits of the legally responsible person’s policy.  The minimum limit is $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident; however, depending on the insured’s policy, additional coverage may be available.  An amount in excess of the policy limits may be awarded by a court of law, in which case the defendant would be personally responsible for the uninsured amount.

    Property damage:

    Property damage is covered up to $1,000 if you are 50% or more at fault in an accident which causes damage to another person’s car that is not covered by insurance.

    No-fault coverage extends to every person living in the same house as the primary insured.  PIP benefits will be paid even when a household member is a pedestrian or a passenger in a non-household member’s car.  PIP benefits also extend to anyone who is injured as a passenger in the insured’s vehicle and does have a no-fault policy of his/her own.

  • How long after an accident can I bring a claim?

    To make the strongest possible case, you need to start as soon as possible with the collection of evidence and the identification of potential witnesses.

    You have THREE YEARS from the date of a motor vehicle accident to file a claim for Third-Party Benefits. This means that if you do not file a lawsuit against those at fault for the accident before the end of that period, you will forever lose your right to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the incident.

    Minors have until one year past their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. There are other exceptions for military personnel, mentally incapacitated individuals, and survivors of individuals killed in a car accident.

    You have a ONE YEAR limitation to file a claim for reimbursement for No-Fault First-Party Benefits such as wage loss, medical bills, attendant care, and mileage reimbursement. You can collect on these losses for longer than a year, but you must file a lawsuit within one year of when the expense was incurred.

  • What do I need to win my accident case?

    You must show that you have suffered a “threshold injury” to win against a careless driver to recover non-economic damages in a “Third Party” claim.

    Michigan law defines a “threshold injury” as:

    …serious impairment of an important body function, serious disfigurement or scarring, or death.

    It is common for the insurance company and their attorneys to assert that an injury is not a “serious impairment of a body function.”

    If you have an an injury that effects your ability to live your normal life, then contact our office to protect your rights. Get the Bernstein Advantage® today.

  • Will my medical bills be covered for life?

    Yes. Michigan law requires that no-fault related medical coverage continue for life, or for as long as you need treatment, for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident. However, many factors may complicate payment of your medical bills. If you have questions about the way these complex issues apply to you, contact us now.

    To qualify for medical expense reimbursement, a medical bill must be reasonable (in cost and necessity) and the expense must be actually incurred, meaning you must have already completed the appointment or procedure. The law does not provide for guaranteed pre-payment of bills for treatment of injuries resulting from an accident. Sometimes, an insurance company will try to escape its responsibility by questioning the need for a medical test or procedure ordered by your physician or by disputing the amount of the bill.

    Michigan’s No-Fault insurance providers offer two types of medical coverage:
    1. Uncoordinated benefits
    2. Coordinated benefits

    An uncoordinated policy pays benefits, regardless of the presence of other health insurance.

    A coordinated policy requires your other health insurance to pay first, and your automobile insurance to pay amounts that your primary health insurer does not cover. Your auto insurance policy states which type of benefits you should receive.

    It is common for a primary health insurance policy and auto insurance policy to contain contradictory language regarding which policy is first obligated to pay medical bills. If you have questions about this or are experiencing difficulty getting your medical bills in a timely manner, it is important to contact us immediately.

  • Can I recover lost wages?

    Yes. Michigan law allows you to receive 85% of your lost wages if you are disabled from work due to injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident. This benefit is tax-free and lasts up to three years.

    The law also sets a monthly cap on the amount of lost wages that the auto insurance company must reimburse.

    Contact us for help addressing issues related to no-fault benefits and lost wages.

  • Who will take care of me while I am recovering?

    Attendant Care

    Michigan law requires an insurance company to pay for attendant care and nursing services if you need supervision or assistance while recovering at home. A severely injured person may need around-the-clock supervision.

    If a member of your family is helping take care of you, they may be entitled to reimbursement. Though the law does not set a specific hourly rate for the caregiver, the reimbursement should reflect the type and complexity of the services that you receive.

    Replacement Services for Chores and Errands

    An accident can prevent you from completing household services, chores, and errands. If you have paid or promised to pay for activities which you previously accomplished on your own, then you may be entitled to reimbursement for these expenses.

    Your physician may need to provide a written statement identifying the tasks you are unable to do on your own. Michigan law states that an auto insurance company is obligated to reimburse up to $20 per day for replacement services and that these benefits last for up to three (3) years.

    Contact us for help addressing issues related to no-fault benefits and lost wages.

  • What if the driver who hit me had been drinking? (Drunk Driver)

    If the negligent driver was intoxicated, then a “Dramshop” Claim may exist. This is the legal term for a lawsuit against a liquor store, bar, or other business, which illegally sold alcohol to the person whose unlawful behavior caused an accident. Whether or not the sale of alcohol was legal may be based on the sale of alcohol to either a minor (under age 21) or to a visibly intoxicated adult.

    Michigan law requires the accident victim to assert the claim against the seller of the alcohol within 120 days after he or she retains an attorney. Therefore, contact us immediately if your accident involved a drunk driver.

  • Can I collect reimbursement for travel to my treatment?

    Yes. Often, proper medical treatment, tests, and physical therapy require travelling long distances. Michigan law provides for the reimbursement for mileage traveled to and from medical care.

  • What are “Uninsured” and “Underinsured” coverages?

    Uninsured motorist coverage is an insurance coverage option that allows recovery from your own insurance policy if the at-fault driver did not have insurance coverage or could not be identified, i.e. a hit-and-run driver. It is recommended that all drivers carry uninsured coverage.

    Underinsured coverage provides an additional source of funds to collect for serious injuries caused by a car accident if the insurance of the at-fault party is too low to cover your third-party benefits.

    Claims for uninsured or underinsured coverage can be complicated and must be handled very carefully. Having uninsured coverage does not necessarily include underinsured coverage. Settling too quickly could forfeit your right to additional coverage.

  • Who pays for my First-Party No-Fault Benefits?

    Under Michigan’s No-Fault law, the injured person’s own auto insurance company pays most of the economic losses caused by a motor vehicle accident. Michigan law establishes an “order of priority” to determine the correct insurance company that is responsible to pay.

    1. Your own insurance policy, if none then…
    2. The insurance company of a resident relative (i.e. spouse, parent, or sibling), if none then…
    3. The insurer of the owner of the vehicle occupied, if none then…
    4. The insurer of the driver of the vehicle occupied, if none then…
    5. The State of Michigan Assigned Claims Facility.

    The Michigan Assigned Claims Facility is the State Agency with the power to assign an insurance company to provide benefits to an injured victim who is not eligible for other No-Fault insurance coverage. To get an application for these Benefits, you can contact the Assigned Claims Facility directly at 517-322-1875.

    This order of priority changes if you were riding a motorcycle.

  • When did No-Fault Insurance become Law?

    The Michigan No-Fault Automobile Insurance Law took effect on October 01, 1973 under Governor William Milliken.  Prior to this date, Michigan operated under a tort liability system, in which fault in an accident had to be determined before benefits could be paid.  The tort system was cumbersome and inefficient and gave rise to excessive legal and administrative fees.  Additionally, most at-fault parties had insufficient insurance to cover the injured party’s damages, which resulted in under-compensation.

    Under current Michigan law, no-fault insurance is required in order to register a vehicle.  Payments for collision damage, medical treatment, and wage loss are administered by one’s own insurance carrier.  Adoption of no-fault law resulted in an increase in benefits paid to the injured person, more efficient distribution of payments, and reduced premiums for legal and administrative costs.  Disputes over who is at fault are irrelevant when making a claim for benefits.  In exchange for this uncomplicated access to no-fault benefits, the injured party can sue only in the case of serious injury, disfigurement, or death.

    Currently, 12 states* and Puerto Rico have no-fault auto insurance laws.  Michigan’s law is unique because it offers unlimited medical and rehabilitation benefits, while other states place a monetary cap on these benefits.  Under Michigan no-fault law, an insured is entitled to personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, residual bodily injury coverage, and property protection insurance.  (These benefits will be discussed more extensively in a separate entry.)

    There have been many challenges to the Michigan No-Fault law, on both the judicial and legislative levels.  Although the law has been tweaked in multiple areas, its main structure has prevailed since implementation nearly 42 years ago.

    *Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Utah

  • Landmark Cases in No-Fault Law

    Under Michigan Compiled Laws §550.3135, a cause of action for damages may be brought by a person who has suffered serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.  The definition of “serious impairment of a body function” is considered a verbal threshold, since the term is not defined specifically in the statute.  The question of what constitutes serious impairment of a body function has been debated ever since the law took effect in 1973.

    In 1982, the Michigan Supreme Court asserted its first interpretation of “serious impairment of bodily function” in Cassidy v. McGovern.  The court established a threshold that specified that an injury must affect the ability to live a normal life.  Since “a normal life” can be loosely defined, few plaintiffs were able to recover non-economic damages under Cassidy.  Only those who were completely unable to work and/or care for themselves were considered disabled enough to qualify under this standard.

    In 1986, the Michigan Supreme Court decided the DiFranco v. Pickard case, in which the definition of “serious impairment of a body function” was expanded.  The court held that an injured party must show that there is a physical basis for subjective complaints of pain and suffering.  Factors to consider included the extent of the impairment, the body function affected, the length of time of impairment, and the treatment required.  The more generous interpretation opened the doors for fairer recovery for personal injury plaintiffs.

    The success experienced after DiFranco lasted until 2004, when the Michigan Supreme Court decided Kreiner v. Fischer and narrowed the definition of “serious impairment of bodily injury” to an injury that affects the general ability to lead a normal life.  Under Kreiner, it was insufficient for an injury to affect just part of one’s life, and could not be a mere minor interruption.  Therefore, a person who suffered and eventually recovered from a severe injury, or a person who suffered an isolated injury but could still proceed with his/her life, was unlikely to be compensated for the injuries.

    McCormick v. Carrier, decided by the Michigan Supreme Court in 2010, expanded the restrictive definition of “serious impairment of a body function” that had been imposed under Kreiner.  Where under Kreiner a person had to show total disruption of his/her life, under McCormick, an injured victim has only to establish that the impairment affected some of the person’s capacity to lead a normal life.  Under this more inclusive standard, many more people are able to be compensated for their injuries.

     

    Sources:

    • Cassidy v. McGovern, 330 NW 2d 22 (1982)
    • DiFranco v. Pickard, 287 NW 2d 896 (1986)
    • Kreiner v. Fischer, 683 NW2d 611 (2004)
    • McCormick v. Carrier, 795 NW2d 517 (2010)