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If I’m Hit by a Drunk Driver in Michigan, Can I Sue?

July 22, 2022

Michigan’s motor vehicle laws say it’s against the law to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

While sometimes called “Driving Under the Influence (DUI)” or “Driving While Intoxicated (DWI),” Michigan has termed this offense, “Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).”

OWI is a serious offense, and a person can be cited with an OWI even if they have control of the vehicle when it’s parked. The law also includes private property which are generally accessible to cars and trucks, such as parking lots. As a result, a person can be charged with Operating While Intoxicated even if they’re sitting in the driver’s seat of a car in a parking lot while intoxicated.

What are Michigan’s Blood Alcohol Limits for Operating While Intoxicated?

In Michigan, intoxication pursuant to an OWI is defined as:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol or another controlled and/or intoxicating substance;
  • Having a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood or above, per 210 liters of breath or per 67 milliliters of urine; or
  • Having a BAC of 0.17 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath or per 67 milliliters of urine.

What Do I Do If I’m Hit by Someone Who’s Over the Limit?

If you’re in a car accident involving a drunk driver in Michigan in which that person was at-fault, you may be able to sue for the following damages:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering;
  • Wrongful damages if you’ve lost a loved one;
  • Medical bills not covered by automobile insurance;
  • Lost income not covered by car insurance; and
  • “Mini-tort” damages to pay for vehicle damage repair costs not covered by insurance.

What Must I Prove to Win My Lawsuit?

If you’re in an accident and hit by an at-fault drunk driver in Michigan, you can pursue a third-party claim against the drunk driver if you or your loved one suffered a personal injury which satisfies the threshold of constituting a “serious impairment of body function.”

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 is known as the Michigan bodily injury threshold or Michigan tort threshold law. The law says that “serious impairment of body function” means an impairment that satisfies all of the following requirements:

  • It’s objectively manifested, which means 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.

How is Fault and Liability Determined in Michigan?

While in most cases, when a Michigan motorist is struck by a drunk driver, he or she will be successful in showing that the drunk driver is liable. However, an accident victim must clearly show that the impaired driver’s action were responsible for your injuries and the accident. In Michigan, you may succeed even if you are partially at fault.

Under Michigan’s comparative negligence (or “comparative fault”) statutes, the amount of compensation that a person is can recover as damages is reduced by how much that he or she is to blame for the accident. And if the accident victim is more than 50% negligent in causing the accident, he or she cannot recover any compensation for non-economic loss, such as pain and suffering and other quality of life losses.

Contact us

A traffic crash was reported every 2 minutes and 9 seconds in Michigan in 2020. Given this statistic, 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 Michigan’s OWI 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!