Let’s look at a few numbers, and they’re not pretty.
In 2018, there were 312,798 automobile crashes in Michigan, where over 55,000 involved injuries, and over 900 were fatal. This means that one of every 10,263 people in Michigan was killed in a traffic crash, and one of every 181 people was injured.
Some of these crashes are no one’s fault. Perhaps a tire blew out or a deer ran in front of a car unexpectedly causing a crash. Even so, there are reasonable precautions that drivers must take driving on Michigan roads—like being cautious of surroundings or maintaining the tires on their vehicles. But a lack of caution or judgment may mean a recovery of money if you or a family member is injured in a car accident.
Let’s look at how accident law works in Michigan.
First-party and third-party insurance claims are different, and there is even more of a difference in Michigan. Typically, an injured person files a third-party claim with the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. But in Michigan, a “third-party claim” is an action against the driver of the other vehicle, the “at-fault driver,” rather than the insurance company.
So, if you’re driving down the street in Grand Rapids or Walker or Wyoming, and you get rear-ended by a pick-up truck, a third-party claim in Michigan is when you make a claim directly against the truck driver who is at-fault.
In Michigan, you can only bring a third-party claim if the other driver is at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident. The attorneys at Buchanan Firm handling your third-party claim will seek reimbursement for your injuries or disfigurement and any excess wage loss, which is wage loss beyond three years.
Every accident in Michigan doesn’t automatically give rise to a third-party claim. To receive compensation for your harms and losses, state law says that you must have suffered a “serious impairment” of body function or permanent serious disfigurement. For example, the use of your arms is an important body function.
The no-fault act places certain limits on liability. Your accident must have caused an “objectively manifested impairment” to an important body function affecting your general ability to lead a normal life. That means that your normal day-to-day living is significantly impacted by your injuries.
To determine if your injuries meets the definition, and you can ask for reimbursement under a third-party claim against an at-fault driver, the courts will examine the nature and extent of the injury, the extent to which the injury impacts day-to-day life, and many other elements. The Michigan Supreme Court said in 2010 that the term “serious impairment” is interpreted by specific facts and circumstances, so it has to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. That’s why you need an experienced car crash injury attorney from Buchanan Firm. We’ve been involved in hundreds of third-party cases and know what to do.
Just to back up and be clear, a person can file a first-party claim with his or her own insurance company. That’s a claim made by the injured party against their insurance company for Michigan no-fault benefits. A first party claims typically involves payment by the insurance company for your medical expenses, a wage loss benefit, and/or replacement services.
The Michigan No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act requires a vehicle owner to carry certain basic coverages. Because of this requirement, it’s illegal to drive or let your car be driven without no-fault insurance. So, if you’re injured in an auto accident, no-fault insurance pays for your medical expenses, wage loss benefits, replacement services, and the damage you do to other people’s property—despite who causes the accident.
The required minimum coverage no-fault policy you must have includes:
The insurance you purchase has three components:
Personal Injury Protection (PIP). If you’re injured in an auto accident, insurance will pay reasonably necessary medical expenses. Plus, it will pay up to 85% of the income you would’ve earned had you not been injured for up to three years (the amount that you’d be paid for lost income is limited). A family member also can receive no more than $20 a day in replacement services to pay for routine household services that you (with your injury) can no longer provide for yourself or your family, like housekeeping and yard work.
Property Protection (PPI) pays up to $1 million for damage your car does in Michigan to other people’s property. This could be if you run into a garage, wreck a bicycle, or smash a person’s fence. PPI will also pay for damage your car does to a parked vehicle that’s properly parked, but it doesn’t pay for any other damage to cars.
Residual Liability Insurance – Bodily Injury and Property Damage is the final part that aims to protect insured individuals in Michigan from being sued because of an auto accident (except in certain circumstances).
A traffic crash was reported every 1 minute and 41 seconds in Michigan in 2018. There’s a decent 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.
For a free consultation with an experienced Grand Rapids car accident attorney, 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.
Contact us today!