Car accidents can cause devastating, sometimes permanent harm. If a crash results in injuries that require extended medical treatment, you may experience considerable suffering and economic hardship. You may need time off work, vocational rehabilitation, and reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses. When a motor vehicle collision is another driver’s fault, you may be able to hold that person accountable for damages. Traverse City, Detroit, and Grand Rapids car accident attorney Kelly Neumann can help victims assert their rights. As an injury lawyer with substantial experience, she can guide people on the West Side of Michigan through the legal process.Holding a Negligent Driver Liable for Your Injuries
Michigan has a no-fault law that requires drivers to purchase first-party insurance that will cover the cost of medical care and rehabilitation for themselves and those injured in their cars. This insurance will not cover more subjective losses, however, such as pain and suffering. If you are hurt in an accident, you will need to file a claim for first-party benefits with your no-fault insurer. If you are a passenger, you can potentially file a claim with the insurer of the vehicle in which you were riding.
Although you must turn first to your own policy for compensation, Michigan does allow you to sue an at-fault driver for pain and suffering damages in certain circumstances. If a car accident results in the serious impairment of a bodily function, serious and permanent disfigurement, or death, you may sue the at-fault driver and try to hold him or her responsible for all of your injuries, including the disfigurement and pain and suffering.
Most commonly, plaintiffs suing for pain and suffering need to meet the threshold injury of a "serious impairment of a bodily function." This is defined by law as an objectively manifested impairment of a bodily function that is important and affects someone's ability to lead a normal life. Factors that an insurer, judge, or jury may consider to determine whether you have a serious impairment include how much time you had to take off work, restrictions placed by a doctor, recreational activities or household chores you can no longer do, and any permanent limitations resulting from the impairment.
Most plaintiffs bring their lawsuits on the basis that another driver drove negligently. To prove negligence, you would need to establish that the other driver breached a duty of care and directly caused your injuries. The duty of care generally means that each person must take reasonable precautions behind the wheel to avoid posing foreseeable risks of harm to others. A plaintiff also must identify reasonably quantifiable damages that were incurred because of the accident.
Michigan follows the rule of comparative fault. This means that the defendant in a car accident lawsuit can point to your own negligence, but you still may be able to recover damages from a defendant if you were less than 50 percent at fault for the collision. Comparative negligence does not apply to your no-fault insurance benefits, since fault is not a prerequisite of obtaining benefits for reasonable and necessary medical care in the no-fault system.
In Michigan, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is three years after the accident. Moreover, you have only one year after the crash to sue for PIP benefits.Consult a Car Accident Attorney in Traverse City, Detroit, or Grand Rapids
At the Neumann Law Group, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Traverse City car accident lawyer Kelly Neumann provides capable legal representation to injured individuals on the West Side of Michigan. Ms. Neumann is an award-winning personal injury and wrongful death lawyer who has consistently obtained millions of dollars in settlements for her clients each year for the past several years. If you have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a crash, our firm is ready to help you. We can assist accident victims in Flint, Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Wyoming, Saginaw, Midland, Muskegon, Holland, Ann Arbor, Warren, Dearborn, Petoskey, and communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. Call us at (231) 221-0050 or use our online form to set up a free consultation.