A burning question that frequently arises is, “Is it possible to initiate a lawsuit after a car accident in Michigan?” Although this seems like a straightforward inquiry, our knowledgeable car accident attorneys pose several follow-up questions that are essential in providing you with an accurate response. These vital questions encompass:
Determining Fault and Injuries
- Who was responsible for causing the accident?
- Did the accident result in any injuries? If so, what were the nature of these injuries?
- Were you a driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian involved in the incident?
- Were you driving your own vehicle? If yes, did you possess auto insurance?
- Did the at-fault driver possess car insurance at the time of the accident?
- Is your insurance covering your medical expenses and lost wages?
Delving into these details may appear extensive, but such analysis is crucial in determining your eligibility to initiate a lawsuit following a car accident and identifying the parties entitled to sue for injuries incurred in the crash.
Potential Defendants for a Michigan Car Accident Lawsuit
In Michigan, you have the opportunity to file a lawsuit against an individual who caused a car accident if they were partially or entirely at fault. Speeding, running red lights, and rear-end collisions are common forms of negligence that lead to traffic accidents. Moreover, distracted driving, such as texting or speaking on a cellphone, as well as driving under the influence, also contribute to a significant number of auto accidents.
You can sue a negligent driver responsible for an accident that caused physical injuries and psychological trauma. Such lawsuits, referred to as “bodily injury” cases, seek monetary compensation for the harm inflicted by the at-fault driver. Settlements typically encompass damages for physical pain, emotional distress, loss of income, and earning capacity.
Apart from suing the driver, other potential defendants exist. For instance, if the at-fault driver was operating another person’s vehicle, you have the option to sue the vehicle owner under the Michigan Owner’s Liability Statute. This statute holds the vehicle owner accountable if another individual uses the vehicle with the owner’s consent. This legal approach often opens up additional insurance coverage to cover your damages.
Additionally, if the negligent driver was on the job at the time of the accident, you have the right to sue their employer. Companies and corporations usually possess higher auto insurance policy limits, thus providing greater potential for compensating injury victims.
It is worth noting that while you sue the at-fault driver, vehicle owner, and potentially the employer, you do not directly target their insurance companies in the lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is filed, the responsibility for settlement payment falls on the insurance company, even if it is not explicitly mentioned in your legal claim.
Requirements for Pursuing a Lawsuit
Under Michigan law, you must suffer a “serious impairment of an important bodily function” to seek damages for pain and suffering. In many instances, a judge determines whether you meet the criteria for a settlement. However, you almost always qualify to sue if the injury involves broken bones, herniated discs, traumatic brain injuries, severe scarring, or permanent disfigurement.
Our experienced attorneys will use your medical records and testimonies to establish the severity of your injuries and the impact they have had on your life. Insurance companies often attempt to minimize the extent of your injuries, but our lawyers are fully prepared to counter their defenses and secure a favorable settlement.
In addition to physical injuries, emotional distress is also compensable. The mental anguish and emotional trauma experienced in the aftermath of an accident and throughout the recovery process contribute significantly to your damages. Symptoms of emotional distress include anxiety, depression, and the disruption of daily activities. These damages can persist long after your physical injuries have healed and may continue to affect you throughout your lifetime.
Fatalities resulting from car accidents always qualify for damages under Michigan law. The family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent driver. Damages encompass the pain and suffering endured from the moment of the accident until death, loss of companionship, and financial losses suffered by the family.
Understanding Your Involvement in the Car Accident
You can pursue legal action if you were injured as a driver or passenger of a vehicle. As a passenger, the issue of fault does not apply to you since you were not operating a vehicle at the time of the crash. In such cases, you can sue either the other driver or the driver of the vehicle you were in if they were wholly or partially responsible for the accident. In certain circumstances, you may even have the option to sue both drivers if there is a dispute over which one caused the crash.
If you were a cyclist or pedestrian struck by a car or truck, you can sue the negligent driver and the vehicle owner for your injuries. Compensation available to you is equivalent to that provided to occupants of motor vehicles involved in an accident.
Bikers and passengers injured in motorcycle accidents have similar rights to sue a negligent driver. Although there are certain insurance requirements specific to motorcycles, injured motorcyclists generally possess the same right to pursue legal action as pedestrians, cyclists, and occupants of motor vehicles.
Auto Insurance Requirements and Claims
In Michigan, your vehicle must be insured at the time of the accident for you to file a bodily injury claim. However, if you were driving an uninsured vehicle owned by someone else, you can still sue for damages. The law solely requires that the owner of the vehicle being driven possesses active auto insurance coverage at the time of the accident.
This requirement does not apply to passengers, cyclists, or pedestrians. Therefore, if you do not own a car or have car insurance, you can still proceed with all bodily injury claims. Specific insurance requirements exist for motorcyclists, and our motorcycle accident attorneys can determine if an injured biker qualifies to sue a negligent driver for injuries sustained in a crash.
If the at-fault driver was operating an uninsured vehicle, you may still be able to file a claim under your own insurance policy. Most insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage, enabling you to make a claim if you are injured by an uninsured individual.
Recovery of Lost Wages and Medical Expenses
In addition to suing the negligent driver for bodily injury claims, you are entitled to receive benefits under Michigan No-Fault Insurance. These benefits encompass the payment of medical bills, lost wages, attendant care services, and household expenses.
Typically, these claims are made against your own auto insurance company. If you were a passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist, a process exists to determine which insurance company holds responsibility for these benefits. Our attorneys specializing in no-fault insurance will ascertain the company accountable for paying these claims and guide you through the necessary forms for claim submission.
If your insurance company denies or unduly delays the payment of benefits to you or your medical providers, you can sue them to compel payment. Often, insurers promptly settle the benefits once a lawsuit is initiated.
Damage to Your Vehicle
Suppose the at-fault driver who damaged your vehicle possessed insurance coverage at the time of the accident. In that case, you can only sue for up to $3,000, even if your vehicle is declared a total loss. This is commonly known as the Mini-Tort law. However, if the negligent driver did not have car insurance, you can sue them for the full cost of repairs or replacement of your vehicle.
Seeking Legal Assistance for a Car Accident Lawsuit in Michigan
The most prudent step you can take is to consult an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer to evaluate the facts surrounding your case. Our attorneys will thoroughly review all aspects of your situation and determine whether you satisfy all necessary requirements for filing a lawsuit. If you meet the criteria to sue a negligent driver, we will diligently prepare the required legal documents and file them with the appropriate court.
The Leading Legal Experts for Michigan Car Accident Lawsuits
Contact the Buckfire Law Firm if you intend to seek financial compensation following a car accident in Michigan. Our experienced attorneys consistently secure some of the highest settlements each year.
We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you incur no legal fees unless you receive a settlement. We are committed to your success and put our promise in writing – if you do not obtain a settlement, you owe us nothing!