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Michigan Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Attorney

Even though the state has a mandatory insurance law, Michigan has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers in the country. Furthermore, many Michigan motorists are dangerously underinsured, because Michigan also has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. Complicating matters even further, many of these drivers fear the consequences of a car wreck and flee the scene. Even if the other driver had little or no insurance, it is always important to contact a Michigan car accident attorney and hear about your legal options.

At Buchanan Firm, our uninsured or underinsured motorist accident lawyers offer more than aggressive representation. We also give you solid legal advice, so you can make the best possible decisions for you and your family.

Third-Party Liability Theories in Michigan

Many times, the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) insurance coverage is largely irrelevant. That’s because Michigan law contains some extremely broad vicarious liability theories. These legal doctrines give victims in uninsured/underinsured crashes an additional source of compensation.

Employer Liability

The respondeat superior rule usually applies in truck accident cases. Employers are liable for the negligent actions, or inactions, of their workers if:

  • Employee: In car crash situations, the tortfeasor must be an employee. This person could be a regular employee, owner-operator, independent contractor, or even an unpaid volunteer. Employers control all these individuals, at least to an extent, and some degree of control is the only legal requirement.
  • Scope of Employment: Michigan negligence law broadly defines this term as well. Any act which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. That includes things like driving an empty delivery truck to a garage.

Other employer liability theories, which often apply in assault, battery, and other intentional tort claims, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.

Alcohol Provider Liability

Many other states have limited or eliminated their dram shop laws in recent years. But Michigan has one of the broadest such laws in the country. Restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and other commercial alcohol providers may be liable for damages if their impaired patrons cause car crashes. This law applies if:

  • Under 21: If the customer was a minor, the provider may be liable for car crash damages as a matter of law. The old “s/he looked older” defense rarely holds up in court.
  • Over 21: In these situations, the dram shop law applies if the customer was visibly intoxicated at the time of purchase. Evidence of visible intoxication includes bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.

Social hosts who provide alcohol to minors or impaired adults may be liable for damages as well, under a theory like negligent undertaking.

Owner Liability

Vehicle owners who allow incompetent drivers to borrow their cars are vicariously liable for car crash damages. Evidence of incompetency includes:

  • Safety-suspended drivers’ license
  • Driving in violation of license restrictions (e.g. without required eyeglasses)
  • A poor driving record

Commercial negligent entrustment cases work a little differently, because of the Graves Amendment.

Tracking Down the Tortfeasor in Michigan

Unless tortfeasors voluntarily confess, it is hard to successfully prosecute them in criminal court. Because of the high burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt), prosecutors must normally produce a witness who saw the driver behind the wheel at or near the time of the crash.

But in civil court, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, if a uninsured or underinsured motorist accident attorney can identify the vehicle, the jury will probably award damages to the victim/plaintiff.

In many hit-and-run cases, investigators overlook important evidence. For example, many witnesses do not want to talk to police officers. But they will speak to a personal injury attorney.

Contact a Hard-Hitting Lawyer

Fair compensation may be available even if the tortfeasor flees the scene or has no insurance. For a free consultation, contact Buchanan Firm. Home and hospital visits are available.