Michigan car accident causes of action, deadlines for filing a car accident lawsuit, rules on shared fault for a crash, and drivers’ legal duties to report a car accident in Michigan.
In Michigan, if you’ve been injured in a car accident, you need to understand your rights for getting compensated for your losses. Under Michigan law, you have three potential types of cases:
1. Mini tort – For physical damage to your vehicle only. You can recover a maximum of $1,000.00 from the at-fault driver’s insurance. The other driver must be more than 50% at fault to recover this compensation. You have one year from the date of the accident to file this claim. Normally, this requires that a police report and written estimate for the damage to your vehicle is provided to the insurance company for the at-fault driver.
2. No-Fault benefits (your first-party case) – No Fault benefits generally are provided through your own auto insurance, including payment of medical expenses, wage loss, attendant care (also known as in-home nursing care) and replacement services. Normally, these claims must be paid within one year of the date of service or you are barred from recovering payment for the claim. Recent changes to the Michigan No-Fault Law may extend this date to 1 year from the date of denial of the claim assuming the claim is pursued with reasonable diligence by the claimant.
3. Pain and suffering (your third-party tort case – also known as a bodily injury case) For compensation from the at-fault driver, and at-fault driver’s insurance company for your injuries and pain and suffering. The case must be filed within 3 years of the date of accident, unless the claimant is a minor which can extend the deadline for filing a lawsuit.
Important note on no-fault: Michigan is a no-fault car insurance state. That means, after a car accident, you typically need to file a claim with your own insurance company to get compensation for medical bills and other financial losses, regardless of who caused the crash. If your injury claim meets certain threshold requirements you can bring a claim directly against the at-fault driver for pain and suffering damages and potential long term wage loss. The damages which may be recovered, may change with respect to recovery of medical expenses as a result of recent changes to the Michigan No-Fault Law for cases occurring after July 1, 2020.
Comparative Negligence in Michigan Car Accident Cases
Michigan follows a comparative fault rule when both parties are found to share blame for an accident. In most car accident cases, the jury is asked to calculate two things based on the evidence: the total dollar amount of the plaintiff’s damages and the percentage of fault that belongs to each party. Under the comparative fault rule, the plaintiff’s damages award is reduced by a percentage equal to his or her share of fault.
For instance, suppose that in your case, the jury decides your total damages award should be $100,000 and the jury also decides you are 30 percent responsible for the accident. Under Michigan’s comparative fault rule, you are entitled to get 70 percent of the $100,000 total, or $70,000.
The comparative fault rule in Michigan does not apply if you are found to be more responsible for the accident than the other driver. For instance, if the jury decides you are 51% at fault, you are not entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering. This is a modified comparative fault rule that only allows the plaintiff to receive damages if his or her fault was 50% or less. Once the plaintiff’s fault exceeds 50%, the damages award drops to zero. You may still be entitled to economic loss even if you are more than 50% at fault for the accident.
The Michigan Car Accident Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on your right to bring a lawsuit. If you miss the time limit set by this law and you try to file your car accident lawsuit after the deadline has already passed, the court is almost certain to dismiss your case, unless some rare exception applies to extend the deadline.
An experienced auto accident lawyer can help guide you through this process in order to prove your injuries and your impairments. An attorney can ensure you receive adequate compensation for the other driver’s wrongdoing and your injuries, and that the other side is not trying to take advantage of you. Normally, the insurance company will make you a low offer that does not adequately compensate you for your injuries.
It always helps to speak with an attorney first. You should obtain a free consultation to make sure you’re not missing any important deadlines. That free consultation can buy you a lot of peace of mind and avoid potential mistakes.
Logeman, Iafrate & Logeman, P.C. has over 45 years’ experience in Personal Injury Law and has helped countless clients throughout Michigan recover the losses and benefits they need and deserve to rebuild their lives and take care of their families. Please feel free to contact the firm at any time for advice or for help with your personal injury claim.