U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 32,000 people are killed and 2 million injured in car accidents nationwide each year. That’s death rate of people about 90 people per day from traffic collisions alone.
If you were injured or a loved one died in a car accident, you may find yourself agonizing about how to make them pay. In other words, if you’ve been harmed, who or what can be made to pay you for this harm? Car accident injuries are deeply painful. Often, car accident injuries require extensive medical care and time off from employment work. Car crashes are known to inflict severe physical, emotional, and financial suffering on people who are party to an accident.
You have a right to make them pay the compensation you deserve for the suffering. But what do I do? How to make them pay for your damages and losses is the topic this blog explains:
In Michigan, answering that question involves some potentially complicated analysis. Under the laws of many states like Michigan, people injured in car accidents can count on recovering compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance policy. In a few states including Michigan (known as no-fault jurisdictions), all accident victims turn first to their own auto insurance coverage to pay some of their financial losses such as medical bills, wage loss, household replacement services, attendant care benefits and much more. You can look to the at-fault party for compensation if your injuries result in death, closed head injury, serious and permanent disfigurement, or serious impairment.
The Great Lakes State represents something of a hybrid between these two systems of car accident insurance. In Michigan, drivers have the option to purchase no-fault insurance that covers them in an accident, or if they qualify opt-out and rely on the at-fault party having enough insurance coverage to pay for all their damages and losses. Drivers must select the level of PIP coverage or if they qualify opt out of no-fault PIP insurance when they first insure their vehicle.
Michigan refers to purchasing no-fault insurance coverage as selecting the personal protection insurance coverage option. If you choose it and subsequently get injured in an accident, you will file a claim against your own insurance company for your out-of-pocket (a.k.a. economic) costs related to the accident, such as medical bills for injuries and wages lost from work due to those injuries.
Selecting the level of personal protection insurance benefits, however, still allows you to seek so-called non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) from at-fault parties in an accident, if the accident leaves you suffering from a serious injury, such as impairment of a bodily function, permanent and serious disfigurement, or death. If a car accident severed your spinal cord and left you paralyzed, for example, you would have the right to seek pain and suffering and similar damages from the at-fault party, even after you collected personal injury protection benefits from your own insurance company.
Drivers who choose not to purchase no-fault PIP insurance in Michigan are able to sue the at fault party for both economic and noneconomic damages. However, opting out of personal protection insurance benefits coverage means you will only have the right to seek damages from the at-fault parties in an accident that leaves you injured, and that you run the risk that the at-fault party does not carry enough insurance or have other financial resources to pay for all of your damages and losses. That’s why this is dangerous for you and your family to buy less than unlimited personal protection insurance coverage!
All of our clients are recommended to carry the following minimum insurance amounts in Michigan.
You can only take legal action for damages not covered by personal protection insurance benefits if someone else was at fault for causing it. Under Michigan law, legal liability for injuries caused by a car accident generally falls on the party whose negligent, careless, or reckless actions led to the crash.
For example, all drivers have a legal duty to obey the laws of the road. Drivers should not speed, or should not run a stop sign, or should not rear-end a vehicle, or drive through red lights, or operate a vehicle that is dangerous, or climb behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drivers who violate these laws and, as a result, cause a crash, can be held legal liable for damages to anyone the crash harms.
Certainly, not all accidents arise out of the negligence, careless or reckless behavior of drivers. Some car accidents occur because of vehicle’s mechanical defects in a car. Others arise out of the poorly maintained condition of the road, such as large potholes or collapsing road bed.
Who will pay you if highway defect or car’s defective part causes a car accident that harms you? Short answer is the government entity having jurisdiction over maintaining the road and the manufacturer of the defective part can be held responsible as well. Auto manufacturers are generally held legally liabile for harm caused by defective products that make cars and trucks unreasonably dangerous.
Similarly, the government entities are responsible for road maintenance and repair of the traveled portion of the road, whether they are governmental agencies or private contractors, which are also held to a reasonable standard of care. They should maintain the roads in a safe condition for public travel and if repair is needed maintain the roads.
All of these potential parties, government entities, car manufacturers, parts manufacturers, repair facilities, and road maintenance companies, can be held legally liable for harm resulting from their violations of a standard of care.
To recover financial compensation from any at-fault party in a Michigan car accident, you must prove that the party violated a legal duty in a way that harmed you. Secondly, the violation caused the accident, and that you sustained injuries as a result. These are the essential elements any personal injury claim.
How do you and your attorney prove each of these negligence elements? There are several ways to prove the elements of your claim, depending on the circumstances. All of them rely on the following steps you take immediately after the accident:
After the Accident:
If you get into a car accident in Michigan, call 911 for the local police right away. It is the law if the accident has caused a death, an injury, or damage of $1000 or more. Even if there are no injuries or fatalities, and the cars can be driven, you should still file a written report with the local police immediately.
Calling the police to the scene of an accident serves several purposes. First, the police will call emergency responders, if necessary, and will make the accident scene safe. Second, calling the police begins to construct a record of the evidence of the accident that can be vitally important later when it comes to enforcing your legal rights.
The police conduct a preliminary investigation of the accident fault. They take down information about who was involved and how the parties describe the accident happened. Police try to talk to all drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses. Police make notes in the police report of the time and place the accident happened and document any factors they believe may have contributed to the accident, such as weather conditions, visibility due to lighting, weather, or nighttime conditions.
If police suspect alcohol was involved or other illegal substances played a role in a crash, they can take steps to test the driver’s using breathalyzer and, if necessary, make a drunk driving arrest. According to the Michigan Department of State Police, alcohol and drugs were involved in about 48 percent of fatal accidents in Michigan last year.
Be sure to get a copy of the free police report from The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm so that you know what the report says about the causes and who may be at fault.
You should always take pictures or video of everything at the scene of your car accident if you have a smartphone or camera available to you. In these situations, the old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words, is true. Accident pictures can give us a clear description of what happened or who caused an accident, such as by showing the points of impact on both vehicles, debris and where the vehicles ended up on the road in the aftermath of the accident. Be sure to take many pictures of all vehicles, the roadway, the parties, street signs and as well as witnesses on scene.
Take pictures of any skid marks, debris, yaw marks, rutting, tracks or damaged property, such as barriers or obstacles, as well.
Finally, take pictures of your injuries and the injuries of any loved ones, as well. Injuries themselves can establish a likely cause of accidents, and thus help to determine fault. If your car was rear-ended, for instance, it’s likely your body was propelled forward and then back—the type of motion that can cause neck and back injuries.
Be sure to exchange your contact information and insurance information with other driver(s) at the scene of an accident. Take a picture of the driver’s license and insurance card so you don’t make any writing error. You will make filing an insurance claim and pursuing your legal rights much easier.
If you are seriously injured, of course, a 911 call will get you to an emergency room via ambulance. But if that doesn’t occur, make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. A doctor will examine you for all injuries. Don’t assume that just because you can only see cuts on your forehead that you just have to treat those. You could be injured inside your body in other ways as well. Be sure to take care of your potential injuries, immediately, by having a medical professional give you a thorough exam after a car accident.
A doctor’s notes can also be used as evidence should you later need to prove the nature and extent of your injuries to an insurance adjuster or a jury.
Sometimes, a police report or pictures may not give conclusive proof of who is at fault for a car accident. In those cases, you may need to gather additional evidence. One way is to see if any local business or traffic surveillance cameras took any footage of the accident or the accident scene.
Another method is to hire an accident reconstruction expert to perform a forensic analysis. Accident reconstruction experts do a thorough examination of the evidence from an accident scene, including any pictures taken by law enforcement, eyewitness accounts, and medical records to piece together who the accident occurred and who is at fault. Get them involved early is critically important.
If another party is definitely at fault for an accident in which you were injured, how do you get them to pay you?
The first step you should take after a car accident is to hire an experienced car accident injury attorney. The attorney will conduct a thorough interview of you, collect all evidence relating to your accident, and look for all of the parties who may have legal responsibility to you for damages.
After gathering sufficient evidence, typically, the lawyer will send a demand to all of the at fault parties. That will typically initiate negotiations with the at fault party’s insurance carrier, which will hopefully, end in a fair settlement paycheck from the insurance company to you. If the any of the involved insurance carriers refuse to offer a reasonable settlement, then you and your attorney may decide to take legal action in Michigan courts. During litigation, the insurance company will be required through mediation to come back to the negotiating table with a good faith settlement offer. But if a settlement does not occur, your attorney can take your case to trial and seek a damages award from a jury instead.
In short, yes. When a car accident inflicts injuries that lead to the death of a driver, pedestrian or passenger, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can take legal action for damages for the benefit of the deceased person’s spouse, minor children, adult dependent children, or parents. This sort of wrongful death action can pursue recovery of any damages the deceased person could have recovered had he or she been a survivor of the accident.
In addition, the personal protection insurance carrier responsible will pay up to the coverage limits the following benefits regardless of fault for:
Plus, you can seek financial compensation from the at fault driver for the following:
Consult with an experienced attorney about your rights to pursue a wrongful death claim.
When you are thinking about taking action to get paid after a car accident, contact an experienced car accident injury attorney. The sooner you find a car accident lawyer, you will have a better chance of preserving important evidence, identifying all of the at fault parties with legal responsibility to you, and recovering every penny of compensation you rightfully deserve.
Contact Joseph Dedvukaj at 1-866-447-3563 (1-866-HIRE-JOE) for a free consultation with a top rated Michigan car accident attorney.