Michigan Auto Accidents: Who Pays For Compensation?
Compassionate auto accident attorneys can help you understand how to get the compensation you deserve
Here in Michigan, there are more cars on the roads than ever. While this is a good boost for the economy, it's also an unfortunate boost for the number of auto accidents that happen per year. It's a situation that no one wants to be in, and is often one we avoid thinking about. But when the "what if" becomes "when", what do you do?
At The Oliver Law Group, P.C., we know how difficult the aftermath of an accident can be. Trying to deal with the mountains of paperwork get your life back on track can be incredibly stressful. This is why you need an attorney-one with integrity who you can trust to handle your case. Going through the motions of trying to figure out how accident compensation works can leave you with a headache. Let us break down the process for our top priority: you.
Michigan is a "No-Fault" state
A no-fault state requires you to file a claim directly with your insurance company after an accident-this is referred to as a first party claim. In a no-fault state, you can't pursue a claim with the other driver's insurance, which would be known as a third party claim, unless you meet certain legal requirements to step outside the no-fault system.
In order to file a personal injury, or liability suit, the injuries sustained from a car accident must be severe. If you have been left disfigured, with limited use of a limb or organ, with severe traumatic brain injury, or with a broken bone, you are eligible to pursue a lawsuit within the state's time limits. The statute of limitations, or time limit put on your ability to file, is three years in the state of Michigan, and one year if you're seeking Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. However, we strongly recommend that you contact us well before the statute of limitations expires due to technical notice requirements.
Michigan also recognizes "comparative fault", which means that your accident is carefully examined to assign a portion of responsibility to each party involved, which will then be deducted from the settlement. For example, if you were found to be 30% at fault for your accident because you didn't use your blinker at a turn, your award would be decreased by that 30%. There is also a 51% bar on recovery - if you are more than half responsible, you cannot recover.
Car insurance requirements in Michigan
In the state of Michigan, it's against the law to not possess car insurance. This law is meant to ensure the safety of everyone on the roads. In the event of an accident, it's important to everyone involved that damages can be taken care of. For that reason, Michigan has minimum policy requirements in place. As a driver, you must carry the required liability insurance minimums of:
- $20,000 per person hurt or killed in an accident
- $40,000 per accident in which more than one person is hurt or killed
- $10,000 per accident in property damage
What will my insurance cover?
You've been hit, you've filed your claim, but you don't feel relieved quite yet. The good news is that Michigan has a robust "no-fault" system that will cover many of your expenses following your accident. Your personal injury protection (PIP) will cover all medical costs arising from the accident, with no policy limit and no end date. PIP also covers up to 20$ a day towards any replacement services needed as a result, and up to 85% of wages lost for up to 3 years after the accident.
Insurance carriers offer other add-on coverage that you can purchase in addition to the minimum. Though optional, they're incredibly important to consider when purchasing insurance.
- Collision: provides assistance in covering the damages to your car from an accident
- Comprehensive: provides assistance in covering the damages to your car from non-accident related incidents, like theft or vandalism.
- UIM/UM coverage: if you are hit by an Underinsured Motorist or Uninsured Motorist, this part of your policy will stand in for, or supplement, the other motorist's liability coverage.
After the accident: What do I do?
- Call the police: Having law enforcement at the scene of your accident makes the process of filing reports and claims more streamlined. They can take photos for their own report of the accident, assess the damage, get your side of the story, and file a police report.
- Photograph: Even if the police take pictures, you should have your own copies on hand. Include the damage to your vehicle, any others involved, and a wide view of the scene of the accident. If you forget what the road conditions were like, or where exactly the accident happened, these can help you remember those important details.
- Write down your account of the accident: Taking down information is incredibly important, but that isn't limited to just license, contact, and insurance information. After you have those recorded, you should write down what you remember about the accident from start to finish to keep your story consistent and memory fresh.
- Go to a doctor: If EMTs are at the scene of your accident, don't turn down an examination. Even if you feel "fine", you should go to a doctor. You could have an internal injury or brain injury. No matter how small the discomfort, go to the doctor and don't delay. In addition to health risks, the longer you wait, the more an insurance company can try to downplay the extent of your injuries.
- File a claim: You deserve compensation - and answers. Filing a first party claim is incredibly important, your insurance company will open an investigation and calculate the value of your damages. There's always the risk of being given a lowball offer, or not having your expenses properly looked after, which is why it's so important to contact an attorney who is there to make sure that you get the reimbursement you deserve.
What if I was hit by an Underinsured/Uninsured driver?
While insurance is required in the state of Michigan, not every driver adheres to the law. They think they can get away with it and aren't considering the safety of others on the road. And if you get into an accident with someone who doesn't have insurance, you may be in hot water. Going after the other driver's personal assets to cover your damages can prove to be a wasted effort; most drivers who don't have insurance usually can't afford it. Thus, they can't afford to pay you. Uninsured Motorist Insurance is important for this very reason: to help compensate for some of your damages in the event that you are in this stressful situation.
The state minimum for insurance will only cover so much. If you are hit by an underinsured driver, your damages run the risk of exceeding their policy limit. When that happens, you're met with red tape that makes recovering your losses even more complicated. Trying to cut through this yourself is a frustrating process that can drag on for what feels like ages. That's why you need an experienced attorney who you can trust to help you fight for the compensation you need to move on with your life.
We can help you recover
After an accident, all you want is to return to your normal life, but going through the legal motions alone is hard and confusing. You may feel isolated, stressed, and lost. The legal team at The Oliver Law Group, P.C. will work to help you regain a sense of ease. Whether you're dealing with insurance companies or drivers themselves, we will be there for you. All you should be focusing on is your recovery, both physically and mentally. We start your journey to get your life back with a free consultation, where we can go over your case and figure out how we can best help you. Having served the Troy area and the state of Michigan for years, we know what to expect from insurance companies, and how to fight back for you. Call us as soon as possible; we're ready to help.