Insured Michigan drivers are protected under the state’s no-fault insurance statute. This law provides lost wages and other benefits when you’re injured in a car crash, no matter who is at fault. This means that your own auto insurance policy will cover some of your injury-related costs no matter if you were at fault in causing or contributing to your accident.
What Lost Wages are Recoverable?
An auto accident victim in Michigan is eligible for 85% of the gross wages he or she would have earned if the accident had not caused them to suffer injuries. This benefit is available to all insured drivers in Michigan for up to three years while recovering from car crash-related injuries (The benefit is not taxable income, which accounts for the 15 percent reduction.).
An accident victim in Michigan is eligible for lost wages under his or her own no-fault benefits regardless of the amount of PIP coverage they select. But the fact that Michigan has a maximum-allowed monthly limit may impact the total monthly benefit that higher wage earners may receive. This cap changes every year, but the lost wages benefit is capped at $6,615 per month for the period of October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.
An auto accident victim in Michigan who is injured must first file a no-fault benefits application with his or her insurance company. While an auto accident victim has a year to do this, this is important and shouldn’t be delayed. Victims don’t get any benefits until they file a claim. An auto accident victim must provide his or her insurer with materials demonstrating reasonable proof of the injuries and lost wages.
What is a Third-Party Claim?
If a car collision victim is unable to return to work by the time their lost wages benefit is exhausted, he or she may be able to pursue a third-party claim against the at-fault driver. In Michigan, a victim can only bring a third-party claim if the other driver is at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident.
An individual who was injured by an at-fault driver may be able to seek benefits through a third-party claim for pain and suffering, or other non-economic losses and wage loss beyond the three-year period. If a lawsuit is filed for damages, the negligent driver must be individually named in the suit, but the damages are typically paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company up to the limits of the negligent driver’s insurance policy.
However, if a plaintiff suffered damages that total more than the amount of at-fault driver’s policy, that person may be personally responsible for the excess amount. A victim must satisfy Michigan’s injury requirements to pursue this type of auto negligence claim. Many lost wages cases hinge on whether the victim suffered a serious bodily impairment that has impacted his or her ability to live their normal life. This may be difficult to prove, and Michigan courts weigh a variety of factors when determining if an injury is a serious impairment of bodily function. These include whether:
If a Michigan auto or truck accident victim meets the injury threshold which permits him or her to file a third-party lawsuit to collect damages for injuries, they can claim the following damages:
Also, if an auto accident resulted in death, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver.
Michigan traffic crashes increased 15% from 245,432 in 2020 to 282,640 in 2021. With these types of numbers, there’s a good chance that you or a family member will be involved in an auto accident. If so, know that injured victims may be entitled to compensation for serious injuries. You need a reliable Grand Rapids car accident attorney that understands the Michigan no-fault insurance laws and can get you what you deserve.
For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate you.