A common question made to the Buckfire Law Firm is “Can I sue after a car accident in Michigan?” While the question seems simple and straightforward, there are actually a number of follow-up questions from our experienced car accident lawyers that are needed to give you a precise answer to your question. These questions will include:
- Who was at fault for causing your accident?
- Were you injured in the car accident? And if so, what were your injuries?
- Were you a driver or passenger in the vehicle? Or a bicyclist or pedestrian?
- Were you driving your own motor vehicle? If yes, did you have auto insurance?
- Did the at-fault driver have car insurance at the time?
- Is your insurance paying your medical bills and lost wages?
While this may seem like a lot of questions, this type of analysis is necessary to determine if you can sue after a car accident and who can sue for injuries suffered in the crash.
Who Can I Sue after a Michigan Car Accident?
In Michigan, you may be able to sue the person who caused the car accident if that person was fully or partially at-fault for the crash. The most common types of negligence that cause traffic crashes are speeding, running red lights, and rear-end collisions. Auto accidents are often also caused by driver distraction, like texting or talking on a cell phone, and drunk driving.
You can sue a negligent driver that causes an accident that results in physical injury and psychological harm to you. These lawsuits are referred to as “bodily injury” cases because demand money compensation for the harm caused by the at-fault driver. Settlements include damages for your physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of income and earnings.
In addition to suing the driver, there are other potential people and companies you can sue as well. For example, if the at-fault driver was using another person’s vehicle, you can sue the vehicle owner under the Michigan Owner’s Liability Statute. This statute holds the vehicle owner liable if another person is using the vehicle with the owner’s consent and permission. This legal theory often results in more insurance coverage available to pay your damages.
Also, if the negligent driver was working at the time of the crash, then you can sue the employer. This often provides a lot more insurance coverage because companies and corporations usually have much higher auto insurance policy limits to pay settlements to injury victims.
If you do have a case, you actually sue the at-fault driver, owner of the vehicle, and possibly the employer and not their insurance companies. Once a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will be responsible for paying your settlement even though it is not named in your lawsuit.
Do I Need Serious Injuries to Sue for my Accident?
Under Michigan law, you must have suffered a “serious impairment of an important bodily function” to make a claim for pain and suffering damages. Many times, this is an issue decided by a judge to see if you qualify for a settlement. However, a person almost always qualifies to sue if the injury involves broken bones, herniated discs, or a traumatic brain injury. A person who suffers a bad scar or serious permanent disfigurement also qualifies to sue after an accident.
To prove a “serious impairment,” our experienced attorneys will use your medical records and your testimony as to how your injuries have impacted your life to prove your case. The insurance company will likely try to minimize the impact of your injuries, but our lawyers will be prepared to defeat their defenses in order to get you a great settlement.
In addition to money compensation for your physical injuries, you can sue for emotional distress as a part of your damage claims. Frequently, the emotional distress and mental anguish following an accident and through the injury recovery process is a major part of your damages.
Symptoms of emotional distress include anxiety, depression, and the inability to work or engage in recreational activities. In fact, emotional distress often continues even after you have recovered from your physical injuries and these damages can last throughout your lifetime.
Cases involving a fatality always qualify for damages under Michigan law. The family members of the decedent can file a wrongful death lawsuit to sue the negligent driver. Damages include the pain and suffering suffered from the time of the accident until death, the loss of companionship for the family members, and financial losses suffered by the family.
What was your Involvement in the Car Accident?
You can sue if you were injured as a vehicle operator and passenger. If you were a passenger, the issue of fault does not apply to you because you were not operating a vehicle at the time of the crash. You can sue either the driver of the other car or the driver of the vehicle you were in if that person was totally or partially at fault for the accident. In some cases, you may be able to sue both drivers if there is a dispute between them as to which one caused the crash.
If you were a bicyclist or pedestrian hit by a car or truck, you can sue the negligent driver and vehicle owner for your injuries. The types of compensation available to you are the same damages available to occupants of motor vehicles involved in an accident.
Bikers and passengers injured in motorcycle accidents have similar rights to sue a negligent driver. There are a few different insurance requirements, but in general, the right to sue is the same as an injured pedestrian, bicyclist, or motor vehicle occupant.
Did you have Auto Insurance on your Vehicle?
In Michigan, there is a requirement that your vehicle is insured at the time of the accident in order for you to make a bodily injury claim. However, if you are driving someone else’s uninsured vehicle then you can still sue for damages. The law requires only that the owner of the vehicle driving the car at the time of the crash has active auto insurance at the time of the crash.
This requirement does not apply to passengers, bicyclists, or pedestrians. So, if you do not own a car or have car insurance then you can still make all bodily injury claims. Motorcyclists have different requirements and our motorcycle accident lawyers can determine if an injured biker qualifies to sue a negligent driver for injuries suffered in a crash.
If the at-fault driver was driving an uninsured vehicle, you may still be able to file a claim under your own insurance policy. Most insurance policies provide uninsured motorist coverage and you can make a claim for this coverage if you are hurt by someone without insurance.
Who Pays my Lost Wages and Medical Expenses?
In addition to suing the negligent driver for your bodily injury claims, you are entitled to receive Michigan No-Fault Insurance benefits. These benefits include payment of medical bills, lost wages, attendant care services, and household expenses.
In general, these claims are made against your own auto insurance company. If you were a passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist, there is a process to determine which insurance company is responsible for paying these benefits. Our no-fault insurance attorneys will determine which company must pay these claims and assist you with the forms to submit your claims.
If the no-fault insurance company denies payment of benefits or improperly delays payment to you or your medical providers, you can sue the insurance company to compel payment of your benefits. Quite often, the insurers will pay the benefits shortly after you sue them.
Can I Sue for the Damage to my Car?
If the at-fault driver who damaged your car was insured at the time of the crash, you can only sue for up to $3,000 even if your vehicle is totaled. This is known as the Mini-Tort law. However, if the negligent driver did not have car insurance, you can sue that person for the full amount of the repairs or replacement of your vehicle.
How to Sue for a Car Accident in Michigan
The best action you can take is to contact an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer to review the facts of your case. Our attorneys will review all of the facts of your case and determine if you satisfy all of the requirements to file a lawsuit. If you do qualify to sue a negligent driver, we will prepare the legal pleadings and file them in the appropriate courthouse.
Best Lawyers to Sue After a Michigan Car Accident
Contact the Buckfire Law Firm if you want to sue for money compensation after a Michigan auto accident. Our experienced attorneys regularly win among the highest settlements every year.
We charge no legal fees unless you get settlement money. And, you owe us nothing if you do not receive a settlement. We put that in writing for you!
- 29000 Inkster Road
Southfield, MI 48034
- Phone: (248) 595-7544
- 19 Clifford St.
Suite 805 Merchants Row
Detroit, MI 48226
- Phone: (313) 992-8281
- 1001 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
- Phone: (313) 777-8482
- 343 S. Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
- Phone: (734) 888-3003
- 51424 Van Dyke Ave
Shelby Township, MI 48316
- Phone: (586) 250-2626
- 432 N. Saginaw Street
Flint, MI 48502
- Phone: (810) 818-8182