If you are injured in a car crash, you may be confused about how to receive the compensation you are entitled to. You may be wondering whether you should file a lawsuit, or who is going to pay your medical bills. The legal process is complicated, which is why most plaintiffs who hire experienced injury lawyers receive higher settlements and verdicts. Here are the answers to the most common questions about Michigan car accident laws.
In Michigan, as in most states, the plaintiff has to establish the following elements in order to recover damages.
If a car accident results in serious injury or death, the victim(s) or survivors may have grounds for a lawsuit. However, there are many variables that determine whether a lawsuit is likely to succeed. Therefore, it is wise to consult a knowledgeable car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. An experienced attorney will evaluate your individual situation and advise you on the best way to proceed without any up-front cost to you.
When deciding whether your case has merit, the first thing a lawyer will consider is who was at fault for the accident. This is crucial because, under the new No-fault laws, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is the only way to receive compensation for pain and suffering damages and out-of-pocket costs not covered by your PIP benefits.
Other factors a lawyer may use when evaluating a claim include the severity and extent of your injuries, the amount of medical coverage you have and the liability coverage limits of the at-fault driver.
You should always call the police immediately after a car accident, even if it appears that no one is seriously hurt. If your No-fault policy includes collision coverage, you will need a police report to make a claim to your insurance company for car repairs. And when you receive medical care, which is recommended after any significant crash, your insurer will need a police report to pay your accident-related medical bills and compensate you for lost wages according to the terms of your No-fault policy.
Recommended reading: What Evidence Do You Need to Win a Car Accident Case?
It is actually a criminal offense to leave the scene of an accident in Michigan. A driver who leaves the scene of an accident where property was damaged but no injuries occurred may be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a maximum fine of $100, or both.
Furthermore, leaving the scene of a crash where one or more persons is injured is a misdemeanor that may result in up to one year in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. Finally, a driver who leaves a crash site where someone was seriously hurt or killed may be charged with a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.
The first thing you should do after an accident is call for an ambulance if you or anyone else is injured. Then call the police. If possible, move your car to the side of the road while you wait for law enforcement to arrive.
Under no circumstances should you leave the area before a police officer is on the scene unless first responders decide you should go to the hospital immediately. In addition, a driver whose life or safety is threatened is permitted to leave the scene and call police from a safe location.
Recommended reading: 5 Things to Do Immediately after an Automobile Accident (and 5 Things You Should Never Do)
Yes. Michigan law still requires all vehicle owners to purchase No-fault insurance for each car or truck. No-fault basically works just as its name implies. Drivers who are injured in an accident seek reimbursement for their medical bills and related expenses from their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault.
However, in 2020, major revisions to the Michigan No-fault law took effect, altering the way many accident claims are handled. The most significant change involved Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical benefits, which included unlimited lifetime medical care including rehabilitation and home care. However, beginning July 1, 2020, Michigan policy holders were able to choose lower amounts of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical coverage ranging from $500,000 to $50,000 depending on the situation. Additionally, the new law allows qualifying individuals to opt out of PIP medical coverage entirely.
Therefore, individuals who opted out or selected one of the limited PIP medical coverage options could be faced with devastating medical bills in the event of a catastrophic injury unless they file suit against the at-fault driver.
Recommended reading: What Every Michigan Driver Should Know about the New No-fault Insurance Law
Because Michigan is a “modified comparative negligence” state, the amount of non-economic compensation you receive is affected by the degree to which you were at fault. To claim non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, you must be less than 50% at fault for an accident.
For example, suppose a jury awards damages of $100,000. If you are found to be 30% at fault, your settlement would be reduced to $70,000
Finally, it is important to note that fault is only a factor when it comes to receiving non-economic and excess economic damages. Drivers are eligible for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits according to the terms of their No-fault policy, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
If you are injured in a car accident, you are more likely to achieve an advantageous outcome with an experienced accident attorney on your side. The Michigan No-fault insurance system is extremely complex, and building a winning case requires time, resources and legal expertise. In addition to filing the necessary forms and other paperwork in accordance with the strict deadlines required by Michigan law, a lawyer can help you claim the benefits provided by your No-fault policy.
Car accident lawyers know how to gather the extensive amount of evidence needed to best support your legal claim. This typically includes medical records, accident-related expenses, police reports, witness statements, information from your employer regarding lost wages and expert witness testimony.
Also, a lawyer has the skills and experience to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company on your behalf and represent you in court if your case proceeds to trial.
Recommended reading: Common Car Accident Injuries and What to Do after a Crash
If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, we can help. Our knowledgeable legal team knows what it takes to win your case, and we have the expertise and resources to win the compensation you deserve.
Car accident law is complicated, but finding the right Michigan car accident lawyer is simple.
Get your case started today by clicking the button below to fill out a brief form or calling 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the safety of your home.
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