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Comparative Negligence and Auto Accident Cases in Michigan

March 11, 2022

In Michigan in 2020, there were 245,432 crashes, of which 1,010 (0.4%) were fatal, 44,417 (18.1%) were personal injury, and 200,005 (81.5%) were property damage only. For each person killed, 56 people were injured in crashes.

One person in our state was killed every 8 hours and 7 minutes as a result of a traffic crash, and one was injured every 8 minutes and 39 seconds in a traffic accident.

You can see that traffic accidents cause a lot of injuries and death in our state.

Comparative Negligence

Under Michigan’s comparative negligence (or “comparative fault”) law, the amount of compensation to which an individual is entitled to recover as damages is reduced by how much that person is to blame for the accident.

Note that if the accident victim is more than 50% negligent in causing the accident, Michigan’s comparative fault law says that he or she can’t recover any compensation for non-economic loss, such as pain and suffering and other quality of life losses.

How Does It Affect a Car Crash Victim’s Claim for Pain and Suffering Compensation?

A car crash victim’s claim for pain and suffering compensation in Michigan is “assessed on the basis of comparative fault. That means the victim’s recovery will be reduced by a percentage equal to the victim’s percentage of fault for the auto accident. Michigan Statute § 500.3135(2)(b) provides that damages in a car crash must be assessed on the basis of comparative fault, except that damages must not be assessed in favor of a party who’s more than 50% at fault.

So, let’s say that in a Michigan car accident involving two automobiles, the jury finds the one driver was the “at fault” driver, and her percentage of fault was 70%. The other driver who was injured was determined to have a comparative negligence of 30%. If the jury returns a verdict for the injured driver of $100,000, that amount will be reduced by his percentage of fault (30%). The accident victim’s total award would be $700,000.

What’s the Requirement for Pain and Suffering Claims in Michigan?

To prove pain and suffering damages in Michigan, you must demonstrate by evidence and testimony that:

  • The automobile driver who caused the crash was negligent;
  • That driver was 50% or more at-fault;
  • That driver’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries;
  • The victim suffered a “serious impairment of body function“; and
  • The victim experienced pain and suffering.

However, in contrast to many states, Michigan requires that crash victims demonstrate that they’ve suffered a “serious impairment of body function” before they’re entitled to recover these noneconomic loss damages).

This requirement, known as the Michigan bodily injury threshold or Michigan tort threshold law, found in Michigan Statute § 500.3135(5), states that “serious impairment of body function” means an impairment that satisfies all of the following requirements:

  • It’s objectively manifested, which means that it’s observable or perceivable from actual symptoms or conditions by someone other than the injured person.
  • It’s an impairment of an important body function, which is a body function of great value, significance, or consequence to the injured person.
  • It affects the injured person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life. This means that it has had an influence on some of the person’s capacity to live in her normal manner of living.

Although the duration of the injury may be relevant, Michigan law doesn’t have a temporal requirement for how long an impairment must last. This examination is fact- and circumstance-specific to each individual who’s hurt. As such, the analysis must be conducted on a case-by-case basis and requires a comparison of the injured person’s life before and after the incident.

To prove pain and suffering claims, the experienced attorneys at Buchanan Firm will offer your medical records, testimony, expert testimony, and other evidence to demonstrate the other party’s negligence.

Are There Different Types of Pain and Suffering Claims in Michigan?

Yes, there are a number different types of compensation that comprise a pain and suffering claim, including the following:

  • Physical pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Fright and shock;
  • Denial of social pleasure and enjoyments;
  • Shame, mental pain and anxiety; and
  • Embarrassment, humiliation, or mortification.

Contact us

A traffic crash was reported every 2 minutes and 9 seconds in Michigan in 2020. There’s a fairly 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 an attorney that understands the Michigan no-fault insurance laws and can get you what you deserve.

For a free consultation with an experienced car 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.

Contact us today!