Can You Sue Someone For a Minor Car Accident?

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An average of 6 million car accidents happen in the United States annually. What defines the intensity of an accident is the level of damage to the car, the severity of physical and psychological injuries and the value of the claim needed to settle the case. If you were involved in an accident, you may be wondering if you can sue the responsible party for the damages or injuries incurred. Learn more about the elements surrounding minor car accidents and how to handle them in personal injury lawsuits in Michigan, which reports roughly 315,000 car accidents annually.

What Constitutes a Minor Car Accident?

The main characteristic of a minor car accident is minimum damage to the vehicle. You can expect your car to continue to operate following this type of accident. Examples of a minor crash include but are not limited to:

  • Minor damage to the windshield, such as a crack or splintering of the glass
  • A fender bender
  • Damage to one or more tires
  • A busted headlight or taillight
  • A minor dent in the side, front or back of the vehicle
  • Damaged side mirrors

After a minor accident, you are still able to drive away from the scene and continue to use your vehicle. The only thing that might hinder you from doing so would be an issue requiring a minor fix, such as replacing a flat tire. The damage caused by such an accident is mostly aesthetic. Drivers should be aware, however, that driving with a cracked windshield and damaged headlights, taillights, or mirrors can be hazardous and should seek to fix these problems right away. 

Major and Minor Injuries

Injuries can occur even in minor accidents. Major injuries, such as internal bleeding and traumatic brain injury, are life-threatening and can be permanently disabling. In contrast, minor injuries are not likely to cause death or lasting damage. Examples include soft-tissue damage, such as bruising or whiplash, and superficial cuts and scrapes. However, if left untreated, some minor injuries could potentially evolve into major ones. 

Reporting the Accident

You should report minor and major car accidents alike to your insurance company and the police for several reasons. Your insurer will document the incident and the damage to your vehicle whether you choose to use the allotted coverage in your policy or not. The purpose is to have proof of previous damage in the event that you are involved in a future accident. 

If there are no immediate injuries, there is no legal requirement to report an auto accident to the police. However, if you intend to sue, your lawyer can use the police report in your personal injury case. The police will officially document the details of the accident, including property damage and injuries. They will also investigate how the accident occurred in order to determine who is at fault. If it is difficult to determine the at-fault party, your insurer and your lawyer will also conduct independent investigations. 

What Steps Should You Take After a Car Accident?

Regardless of the severity, being involved in a car accident can be intense. Even a minor accident can result in costly damages to the vehicle and significant injuries to your body. How you handle the immediate aftermath is crucial, both to your health and your potential lawsuit.

To protect yourself in the wake of a minor car accident, here are a few things to remember:

  • Check to see if you or anyone around is injured. Call for an ambulance if needed.
  • If you are in a high-traffic area, move the vehicles to a safe location nearby and wait for the police to arrive.
  • Avoid discussing the incident or admitting fault to the other driver involved in the accident.
  • Exchange critical information, including name, address, and insurance, with the other driver. Avoid providing anything additional.
  • Take photos and videos of the scene, including the vehicles and the surrounding area.
  • Speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible and avoid talking to an insurance adjuster until you do.
  • See a doctor immediately.

Seeking a medical evaluation after a car accident, even when you feel fine, could prevent any damage caused by latent injuries. Even a minor car accident could result in injury, and the rush of adrenaline due to the accident can potentially mask pain.

How Do Auto Insurance Laws Affect Your Case?

Auto insurance laws are determined at the state level. Every state is either a no-fault state, a tort liability state or both. No-fault states require personal injury protection insurance, which pays for the medical bills of the policyholder regardless of who is responsible for the accident, while the at-fault person pays for property damages. In at-fault states, the insurer of the at-fault party is responsible for all damages. 

Michigan No-Fault Insurance Lawsuits

Michigan is a no-fault state and also a tort threshold state. This means there is an injury threshold and particular rules applied to filing a lawsuit following a car accident. The rules specifically address suing someone for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, as well as economic damages, such as medical bills, loss of wages and costs of vehicle repair up to $3,000. 

In July 2020, Michigan’s new no-fault auto law took effect. It allows an injured person to sue if the PIP medical benefits coverage in their policy is not unlimited and medical costs are greater than the coverage limitations. You, as the injured party, have three potential cases:

  • You can file a lawsuit against your insurer for unpaid or past-due PIP benefits.
  • You can file a lawsuit against the other driver for causing injuries and damages.
  • You can file a mini-tort claim for the cost of repairs to your vehicle.

This is only a brief overview of this new no-fault law in Michigan. If you do decide to sue for a minor accident, you would likely benefit from the help of a personal injury attorney in Michigan who understands the complexity of the new legal process. 

Why Should You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

There are several reasons to call an attorney immediately following an accident in Michigan:

  • Your attorney needs time to assess your claim and build a case.
  • Michigan has strict statutes of limitations and filing deadlines for personal injury lawsuits. 
  • An attorney will interview you first to hear the details of the crash, and your memory is most reliable immediately following the accident.
  • The investigation stage of a personal injury case, in which your attorney gathers medical records and other pertinent documentation, can be a lengthy process, so it is better to start it as soon as possible.
  • Evidence can be lost as time passes.

Acting quickly can strengthen your case and shorten the time it takes to recover the compensation you deserve. 

There are several benefits to hiring an attorney. Personal injury lawyers typically handle car accidents frequently and are well-versed in the legal process. They understand the value of your claim and have the negotiation skills to help you recover compensation for damages. It can also help to get the opinion of an objective professional on your case.

In short, yes, you can sue someone for a minor car accident. However, the process can be complex in Michigan, a no-fault state. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. You can call 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or contact us online anytime, day or night. 

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