If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash, you are likely to be overwhelmed in the wake of receiving medical attention, filing a no-fault insurance claim, and handling your recovery. However, if you are seeking compensation for your injuries against an at-fault motorist, determining liability in a Michigan car crash is crucial.
Because Michigan is a no-fault state, many victims of auto accidents are able to get the support they need through their own insurance provider. People injured in serious accidents, however, are often not offered adequate or fair compensation to cover all of the losses they have suffered and instead pursue a civil lawsuit.
However, navigating the claims process and establishing fault is often a complex and exhaustive legal process. By working with a well-versed lawyer, you could have help to investigate the circumstances of a crash, understand what is involved in taking legal action, and filing a persuasive claim for compensation.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Car Crash Lawsuit
Depending on the specific circumstances of an accident, more than one party might be held liable in a claim. The most commonly liable party is a negligent motorist—for example, a driver who was speeding, inebriated, texting, or engaging in any other reckless activity might clearly be at fault.
However, if a negligent driver was operating a vehicle within the scope of their employment, the employer might also be held liable for the ensuing damages. Furthermore, if there are three or more motorists involved in a crash, an injured driver might be able to name multiple defendants.
Therefore, determining liability in a Michigan car accident claim is crucial. Although initial support and payments for damages could come through the state’s no-fault insurance, a claimant who has suffered severe and catastrophic injuries might require additional compensation outside the scope of no-fault benefits. This means that gathering evidence to demonstrate liability in a crash is crucial for making a valid and persuasive case in court—or through an insurance settlement negotiation.
The Steps Needed to Prove Negligence
Before a successful claim can be filed, it must be shown that a motorist was negligent. This is done through the demonstration of numerous elements, including duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Essentially, it must be shown that:
- A motorist owed a legal duty of care to a claimant—every driver has a duty to drive safely and reasonably
- A driver breached this duty of care—by, for example, speeding
- This neglectful act caused a crash—if the driver was texting behind the wheel and hit another car as a result, this could be clear grounds for neglect
- This accident caused the claimant’s injuries
In practice, determining each element of liability for a car crash claim is often complex, requiring an exhaustive knowledge of the legal system and how evidence is gathered and presented. For example, a thorough investigation of the accident scene could help to retell the story of what happened, or even identify additional liable parties. It is also important for a victim to file a crash report with the policy immediately following a wreck.
Comparative Negligence in Michigan
Following a crash, an injured individual can file for recovery of their damages against all negligent parties. However, the state’s comparative negligence law—outlined under Michigan Compiled Laws Section 600.2959— can also assess some degree fault against the injured person.
Essentially, under this law, the damages awarded to an injured claimant may be reduced to match their portion of liability for a crash. This is typically determined by the jury. So, if a claimant is found to 35 percent at fault, they would still recover 65 percent of the awarded damages. For example, if a jury verdict is for $ 100,000 but the injured person is determined to be 35 percent negligent, the victim would receive a total of $ 65,000 from the verdict.
Call an Attorney for Help Determining Liability After a Michigan Car Accident
If you were injured in an auto accident due to someone else’s negligence and were not offered fair compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other associated costs through no-fault insurance, you might wish to file a claim against the at-fault party. If successful, a civil lawsuit might help to further alleviate your financial strain, as well as compensate you for the physical and emotional damages you have suffered.
Furthermore, if you have lost a loved one because of a negligent driver, you may be able to seek support for your loss by filing a wrongful death claim. A successful claim could hold the person or party responsible for your losses by covering funeral expenses, lost future wages, loss of inheritance, pain and suffering, and other related damages.
Every case is different and, therefore, must be handled differently. No matter the circumstances, a skilled lawyer could help assess the facts of your case, work to determine liability in a Michigan car accident, and file a claim on your behalf. To get started, call an attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. for a free and comprehensive consultation.
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