Auto Accident Forms
MAKE SURE YOUR VEHICLE IS INSURED
The Michigan No-Fault Act requires that every registered car be insured. If you are convicted of driving without basic insurance, you may be charged with a crime, not just a civil infraction, and fined up to $500, put in jail up to one year, or both. If you own a car that does not have insurance and there is an accident involving that car, you may be sued and held personally liable for all damages that are sustained. If you are hurt in an accident involving a vehicle that you own that is not insured you will not be paid for medical expenses, wage loss, loss of services or other benefits available under the Michigan No-Fault Act Under the present law, if you are involved in an accident in a vehicle that you own that is not insured, you also will not be able to recover damages against the driver or owner of the other vehicle even if the other driver was dead drunk, ran a red light, hit your vehicle and rendered you a paraplegic.
No-Fault Automobile Insurance in Michigan
Nearly everyone will be involved, or have a family member that is involved, in an automobile accident at some point in their lives. In 1973 Michigan adopted a “no-fault” system of automobile insurance. This set of statutes basically covers the rights, liabilities and duties of individuals and insurance companies when motor vehicle accidents occur. The act itself is complicated and has spawned hundreds of appellate court decisions interpreting it. This article is simply meant to give you a general overview of Michigan law in this area. If you are involved in an accident, please contact our office and we will be glad to discuss any questions you may have.
The Michigan No-Fault Act also provides that if you lend your vehicle to another individual, and that individual is involved in an accident, you will be held financially liable for injuries and damages caused as a result of the negligent operation of the vehicle to the same extent as if you were driving the vehicle.
If you are involved in an accident in a motor vehicle that is insured, and you are injured, a designated insurance company (generally your own) will pay certain benefits even if you were 100% at fault in causing the accident. Those benefits include wage loss for up to three years following the accident up to a statutory maximum amount; up to $20.00 per day in replacement services to hire someone to do work you would otherwise do but are unable to do as a result of injuries; medical and rehabilitation expenses reasonable necessary as a result of the accident; certain survivor loss and funeral expenses and other various benefits.
The types of benefits indicated above are going to be available no matter who was at fault in the accident. However, in order to bring an action against the owner or operator of the other vehicle involved in the accident, it is necessary to prove that the other driver was at least 50% at fault in causing the accident. If the other driver was not at least 50% at fault you will no be able to recover from that other driver. In addition, before the law will allow you to sue the driver of the other car, you must have sustained an injury of sufficient severity. The No Fault Act requires that an automobile accident result in death, a serious impairment of an important body function that affects a person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life or permanent serious disfigurement before suit may be brought against an insured, negligent driver of a motor vehicle for non-economic damages.
Essentially, Michigan law is saying that, before you can sue the driver of another vehicle for non-economic loss for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident you have to be fairly seriously injured. Exactly what injury is sufficient to satisfy this threshold requirement has been the subject of thousands of civil suits. It is not necessary to prove that you suffered this type of “threshold” injury in order to recover economic loss against a negligent owner of operator of a motor vehicle. Therefore, if you have sustained wage loss over and above the statutory maximum amount during the first three years following the accident or wage loss beyond the three years, you can recover those damages or a percentage of those damages because of the negligent operation of the other vehicle involved in the accident.
Your basic No-Fault insurance policy does not pay to repair or replace your car if it is damaged. If you want collision coverage you have to purchase that as an addition to your basic insurance policy coverage. You can sue the owner or operator of the other vehicle involved in the accident for up to $1000 in damages for damages to your car not otherwise covered by collision insurance. However, you generally will not be able to recover more than $1000 against the driver of the other vehicle.
As indicated above, this is just a basic overview of the laws pertaining to motor vehicle accidents. Automobile accidents may involve hundreds of different issues which were not specifically addressed in this article. For example, different laws apply if you are a railroad employee injured in a motor vehicle accident while on-duty. Different laws may apply regarding the liability of a bar owner if you are struck by an individual whose ability to operate a vehicle is impaired due to consumption of alcohol. Different laws may apply if your injury is a result of a defective highway. Different laws apply if you are involved in an accident while operating a motorcycle. Additional insurance policies may be involved if you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage. New issues may arise if the operator of the other vehicle that caused you to be injured was in the scope of his or her employment when the accident occurred.
If you are involved in an accident, please do not hesitate to contact our firm to discuss any questions you may have regarding your legal rights and responsibilities. The automobile insurance industry has attorneys ready to provide guidance to them and you will probably need attorneys to provide guidance to you in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
WHEN CAN YOU SUE THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
Nearly everyone will be involved in an automobile accident at some point in their life. In 1973 Michigan adopted “no-fault” laws for automobile insurance. These laws limit your ability to file suit against someone that causes an accident, no matter how negligent that person was. This article is meant to give you a general overview of Michigan law in this area. If you are involved in an accident, please contact our office and we will be glad to discuss any questions you may have.
In order to bring an action against a negligent owner or operator of a vehicle that caused an accident, the law requires that you prove that you were not more than 50 % at fault. To recover non-economic loss damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of normal life activities, the law also requires that an accident result in a “threshold injury” of either:
- a serious impairment of an important body function that affects a person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life
- permanent serious disfigurement
It is not necessary to prove that you suffered the above type of “threshold” injury in order to recover economic loss against a negligent owner or operator of a motor vehicle. Therefore, if you have sustained wage loss over and above the amount that your own insurance company is required to pay you during the first three years following the accident or wage loss more than three years from the date of the accident, you can recover those damages caused by the negligent operation of a vehicle involved in the accident without proving a “threshold” injury.
There are many situations that can alter the scope of an auto accident case including:
- If the driver of the other vehicle has impaired ability to drive due to consumption of alcohol.
- If the accident occurred as a result of a defective highway.
- If the driver of either vehicle was in the scope of his or her employment.
- If you were operating a motorcycle when involved in the accident.
- If the accident occurred as a result of a defective vehicle.
- If you have uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage you may be able to seek recovery against your own insurer.
If you are involved in an accident, please do not hesitate to contact our firm at 586-469-0300 to discuss any questions you may have regarding your legal rights and responsibilities. The issue of whether an individual has sustained a “threshold” injury has been the subject of thousands of lawsuits. The other issues involved when an individual has been injured in an automobile accident have been the subject of hundreds of Michigan appellate court decisions. The automobile insurance industry has attorneys and claims adjusters fighting for them to pay out the smallest amount that they can to those injured in accidents and you will need an attorney to provide guidance to you to make sure that you obtain a fair and equitable recovery.
Information on Cases Handled
Quadriplegic Girl Receives Multi-Million Dollar Settlement
Brescoll & Brescoll, P.C. represented a 2-year-old girl who was rendered a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic in a single vehicle automobile crash. The girl's parents decided to test drive a General Motors two-seat sports car and, with nowhere else to place their young daughter, elected to have her sit on her mother's lap in the passenger seat. After driving around for several minutes, they reached a long stretch of straight roadway, and the father quickly accelerated. A few moments later the car passed over several bumps and dips in the pavement, became airborne and then struck a large truck parked on the side of the road. Shortly thereafter, suit was commenced against General Motors Corporation, as well as the local county road commission for its failure to properly inspect and maintain the surface of its roadway. On the eve of trial, a settlement was reached with the defendants, which will pay out more than $41,900,000 if the girl lives a normal life span. In addition, all medical, rehabilitation and other similar expenses arising from her injuries will be paid for the remainder of her life span.
Motorcycle Accident Results in $500,000 Settlement
Our client was a 35-year-old man who earned approximately $17,000 per year as a high pressure water blaster. He was riding his motorcycle down a local road when the defendant, who was travelling in the opposite direction, began to make a left hand turn in front of the plaintiff. After the defendant had gone a few feet into our client's lane, he stopped. Our client attempted to swerve to avoid the collision, but clipped the front end of the defendant's vehicle and went over the handlebars. Initially, his injuries seemed to be relatively minor. He had left knee pain and two months later had some minor arthroscopic surgery done on his left knee. However, nearly nine months after his initial surgery and more than a year after his accident, his left knee gave out on him while he was walking down the steps on a porch at his parents' home, and he fell and fractured his right elbow and injured his right knee. The elbow healed quickly. However, the right knee required four additional surgeries over the next four years. Brescoll & Brescoll, P.C. was able to effectively demonstrate that the right knee injury, which occurred more than a year after the initial accident, was causally related to the initial accident and negotiated a $500,000 settlement for the plaintiff. This case clearly demonstrates the need for securing good counsel even when the initial injury does not appear to be severe. Had the plaintiff resolved all claims stemming from this accident for the value of his left knee injury, he obviously would have been grossly under compensated.
Michigan US Army Vet Settles Car Accident Case for $480,000
The plaintiff, a 33 year old US Army Vet, sustained multiple injuries in a head-on motor vehicle collision with defendant #1 when defendant’s vehicle was propelled across the center line of a freeway after being hit from behind by another vehicle driven by defendant #2. The investigating sheriff’s deputies determined that defendant #1 was not responsible for the accident and that defendant #2 had failed to stop within a clear assured distance. As a result of the accident, plaintiff’s right leg was crushed and he needed to be extracted from his vehicle by the Jaws of Life. Plaintiff was treated at a local hospital by an orthopedic surgeon who performed two surgeries to repair right tibia and fibula fractures and right foot fractures. Upon discharge Plaintiff had extensive home health care and physical therapy. He later had another surgery on his right tibia due to non-union to insert a larger rod. After undergoing work hardening plaintiff returned to his former job.