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Vehicle Crash Attorney in Kalamazoo, Michigan

If you have been seriously injured in a vehicle crash in Kalamazoo, Michigan, your next thoughts might include: “How will my medical bills get paid?;” “Who is going to pay my lost wages?;” and “Am I entitled to be compensated for my pain and suffering?” For many people, dealing with insurance companies after a serious injury from a vehicle accident can be difficult, intimidating, and confusing.

The team at Buchanan Firm have decades of experience in handling motor-vehicle personal injury claims in Kalamazoo; let us put that experience to work for you in fighting the insurance companies and helping you recover what you are owed.

Michigan’s “No-Fault” Law

Michigan has a complicated system of laws that apply to those injured in motor-vehicle accidents, and it is ever-changing. The Buchanan Firm wants all Michigan residents to be aware of the benefits available to someone injured in a motor-vehicle accident. Specific circumstances determine eligibility to collect “no fault” benefits, but below is a general overview of Michigan No-Fault auto law.

First-Party Claims

Let’s start with the basics of how Michigan no-fault operates. If you sustain a bodily injury from the operation, maintenance, use, or ownership of a motor vehicle, you may be entitled to collect out-of-pocket expenses directly from your own car insurance carrier.

When your auto insurance company pays you for incurred expenses, it is referred to as a “first-party” claim. A first-party claim is often referred to as a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim. First-party claims have five major categories of damages.  They include: medical expenses, lost wages, replacement services, attendant care, and survivor benefits. First-party benefits are available to you regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

  1. Medical expenses include costs such as hospital and doctor office visits, surgeries, and rehabilitation expenses. Under the no-fault law, you are entitled to collect medical expense benefits as long as the medical expense is “reasonably necessary for your care, recovery, or rehabilitation.” In July 2020, the medical expense coverage changed from being unlimited for all, to offering insureds a choice on the level of benefits. Buchanan Firm always encourages selecting unlimited medical expense benefits, to ensure you are properly cared for if in an accident resulting in catastrophic injuries.
  2. Lost wages are paid at 85% of your pre-accident gross wage/salary (i.e., before tax). Wage loss benefits expire 3 years after the date of the loss (i.e., car, truck, or motorcycle accident).
  3. Replacement services are “things” (i.e., chores) you did before the accident that you are no longer able to do for yourself or your dependents. For example, if you have to hire someone to assist you with your household activities such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, or lawn care, you may be entitled to be compensated up to $20 per day. Replacement services also expire 3 years after the date of the loss (auto accident).
  4. Attendant care means care expenses you incur to have others take care of you in your home. It can include friends or family providing services. Like medical expenses, the amount of attendant care services that will be paid will be limited to the amount of PIP medical benefits coverage in the policy.
  5. Survivor benefits are benefits to dependents of a person who dies in a motor vehicle accident.

Third-Party Claims

In addition to recovering “out of pocket” expenses under a first-party claim, if you suffered a serious physical injury, you may be entitled to recover from the person who caused the accident and injury. This is known as a “third-party” claim. The third-party claim is designed to compensate a seriously injured person for expenses and losses not paid by their own car insurance carrier under a first-party claim.

In general, you can only be paid under a third-party claim if your injury falls into one of these categories:

  1. Serious impairment of a body function (brain injury, for example),
  2. Permanent disfigurement (substantial scarring, for example), or
  3. Death

Third-Party Economic Damages

If your personal injuries from a car, truck, or motorcycle accident are serious enough, as part of your third-party liability claim you may be entitled to recover for damages not paid or payable under your first-party claim. If, for example, your physical injuries prevent you from working for more than three years, the excess wage loss and replacement services may be paid under a third-party claim. Damages that can be calculated with reasonable certainty are what are referred to as “economic” damages.

Third-Party Non-economic Damages

While economic damages can be assigned a specific dollar amount with reasonable certainty, non-economic damages are virtually impossible in which to assign a value. They include, for example, physical pain and suffering, disability or disfigurement, mental anguish and emotional distress, anxiety, fright and shock, denial of social pleasures and enjoyments, embarrassment, humiliation, and mortification.

In Michigan, non-economic damages are only recoverable under a third-party claim.

How Long Do I Have to File a Third-Party Auto Lawsuit?

People injured in a Michigan auto accident have up to 3 years after the crash to file a third-party lawsuit, for pain and suffering from accident injuries or excess economic harms.  However, there are instances where other coverage applies shortening the deadline by which you must file a lawsuit to one year.

What Does It Cost to Bring a Third-Party Auto Case?

“What does it cost?” is a common question we hear. We work for our clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning we are paid an attorney fee only if we recover money for you. If money is obtained by a settlement or after a trial, we are paid a percentage of the recovery, like a commission.  If we recover no money, you pay no attorney fee.  Money spent to prepare the claim (i.e., filing fees, experts, copies, etc.) are the client’s responsibility under Michigan law, but our firm borrows the money (so you don’t have to).

Contact the Kalamazoo, Michigan Buchanan Firm Team

If you have been seriously injured in a motor-vehicle accident in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the insurance companies will do everything they can to deny your claim. Don’t let the insurance companies deny you what you are rightfully entitled to recover. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a motor-vehicle accident, please contact Buchanan Firm today.