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 crashes are no one’s fault. Perhaps a tire blew out or a deer ran in front of a car unexpectedly causing a crash. 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.
Even though planes crash, ships sink, and trains wreck, we usually say that cars have accidents. But usually these incidents are not accidental. In almost all cases, car crash victims must deal with serious losses. If you need justice and compensation after a car collision, contact our Michigan car accident lawyers, and we’ll work hard to obtain it.
The big auto insurance companies do not intimidate the tough car crash lawyers at Buchanan Firm. Instead, we relentlessly fight for your legal and financial rights. Because of our vast expertise and top reputation, we can often get you favorable money settlements before a lawsuit. So, most of our clients need not go to court to get great results.
Today’s cars and trucks are much safer than those that rolled off the assembly line in the 20th century. But even the most advanced safety systems only provide so much protection. The number of deaths and serious injuries is largely unchanged. Some serious wounds include:
Because of these serious injuries, and others like them, the medical bills in a vehicle collision usually exceed $100,000. In most severe cases, such as spine injuries and serious burns, the medical bills could be ten times that amount or even higher.
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, Walker, Wyoming, or Detroit and you get rear-ended by a pickup 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, using 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 injury 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 claim 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 would 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 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).
At Buchanan Firm, our personal injury lawyers arrange for clients to receive medical treatment from top doctors paying nothing upfront. We similarly arrange with other car crash vendors, like rental car companies and auto body shops.
Possible Insurance Company Defenses in Grand Rapids
Substantial compensation is available for all these losses, but insurance companies do not simply give away this money. They usually fight tooth and nail to reduce or deny compensation to victims.
The comparative negligence defense is one of the most common legal loopholes. This rule shifts blame for the accident from the negligent driver (tortfeasor) to the victim. If both parties were at fault, Michigan jurors must apportion liability on a percentage basis.
Michigan is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent threshold. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the collision, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages. This rule applies in other situations, such as boat accidents.
Other defense excuses in car crash claims include sudden emergency and its legal cousin, the last clear chance doctrine. Both loopholes sometimes come up in head-on and rear-end crash claims.
An experienced car collision attorney in Michigan collects evidence and builds a case with these defenses in mind, so they do not derail your claim for fair reimbursement.
Car crash victims may be entitled to compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves Grand Rapids, Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, and most cities in Michigan. After-hours or hospital visits are available.