Motor Vehicle Accidents
The law protecting those injured in auto accidents at one time in Michigan was basically that of the law of personal injury. If you were hurt in an auto accident by another driver or as a passenger or as a pedestrian, you could sue the negligent owner or negligent operator for your injuries and losses. In the 1970’s however, Michigan adopted a No-Fault Act to cover auto accidents. The No-Fault system changed what a person involved in an auto accident could recover and it changed who paid for various damages, losses and expenses.
“First Party Benefits”
Under the No-Fault law, your own car insurance is usually responsible for paying what are called your First Party Benefits. (If your car was involved in an accident and you did not carry insurance as required, you are not eligible or covered.) If you were injured as a passenger or a pedestrian and did not carry car insurance, other insurance companies or the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility may be responsible to handle your First Party Benefits. You are eligible for First Party Benefits if you have suffered an injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle. It is important to file an Application for First Party Benefits with the appropriate insurance carrier as soon as possible.
Under Michigan’s First Party Benefit No Fault Law…
- First Party Benefits include a right to be reimbursed for necessary injury-related medical expenses, but pursuant to 2019 amendments to the law, there may be caps limiting the amount of coverage you have.
- First Party Benefits include a right to receive up to three years of wage loss benefits equal to 85% of your prior wages, subject to a statutory maximum.
- The insurance company responsible for paying First Party Benefits is also responsible for paying for “Attendant or Nursing Care” an accident victim receives from a professional, family member or other caregiver.
- If your injuries from the auto accident prevent you from performing chores and services that you used to do, and you now need others to perform those tasks for you, the First Party No-Fault Carrier can be required to pay up to $20 a day for up to 3 years for the ‘Replacement Services” that you need.
- If the proper insurance company is refusing to pay the appropriate First Party Benefits in a timely manner, do not sit on your rights and wait. There are deadlines for submitting claims and for filing lawsuits to demand payment. Do not let unpaid benefits get to be over a year old without filing suit.
“Third Party Claims”
Under Michigan’s No Fault Law, you can also sometimes sue the negligent persons responsible for causing the auto accident and pursue your rights in a “Third Party Claim.” The law permits a Third Party Claim against Negligent Defendants to Recover Wage Loss in excess of the first three years. You may also now be able to recover monies for medical expenses not covered by your first party auto coverage. The law also permits a Third Party claim against a Negligent Defendant for non-economic damages like pain and suffering if it can be shown that the injured person suffered serious disfigurement or scarring, a serious impairment of an important body function or death. What is considered a serious impairment is the subject of heated debate in the Michigan courts. The more it can be demonstrated that the injury has impacted the auto accident victim’s ability to live their ordinary life the more likely the accident victim will be permitted to sue the negligent parties responsible for the injuries. Documentation regarding a change in one’s activities is critical as is recognition from treating doctors that the accident has caused the limitations and restrictions. Over the past several years, many Michigan courts were requiring, in order to sue a negligent driver, proof that an accident resulted in catastrophic and permanent loss. In August 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court in the McCormick case, ruled that the statute does not require proof that an accident permanently destroyed an accident victim’s way of life. The Court ruled that in order to sue for pain and suffering against a negligent driver, according to Michigan statute, an accident victim must either show permanent serious disfigurement or a serious impairment of an important body function that affected for some time the person’s ability to live his or her normal life. The Michigan legislature essentially codified this standard in 2019.
If you are injured in an auto accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, do not wait to contact a lawyer. There are strict time deadlines for bringing a claim against the negligent party. If the negligent party did not carry insurance or enough insurance coverage, you may have uninsured coverage or underinsured coverage. You will also want to assert your right to benefits under these policies in a timely manner.
Contact us at MacDonald & MacDonald PLLC for a free consultation to see how we can help you protect and assert your rights to benefits and just compensation.