Car Accident FAQs

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Getting a driver’s license is an important milestone and rite of passage for young people across the United States. In Michigan, certain laws have been put in place to protect young drivers and the seasoned veterans that share the road with them. The Graduated Driver Licensing process increases the driving privileges afforded to new drivers as they advance through the system. This ensures that young drivers have the right amount of knowledge and experience behind the wheel before they have an unrestricted license.

Teens can begin driving after they are at least 14 years and 9 months old. A level one license allows a teen driver to operate a vehicle while being supervised by a parent or licensed adult. 

In order to obtain a level two driver’s license, the teen must be at least 16 years old and complete additional training. Level two drivers are not allowed on the road between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless with a parent. Passengers are restricted to one if the passenger is under 21 years old, unless a family member or supervised by a parent. 

Level one and two drivers are restricted from using a cell phone while driving.

Drivers who are 17 years old and completed the requirements for levels one and two are eligible for an unrestricted license but are on probation for three years to monitor for traffic violations, tickets, etc. 

Regardless of the age, every driver in Michigan is required to carry proper car insurance at all times.

Do I Have A Case As A Passenger Of Uber, Lyft, Or A Taxi Involved In An Accident?

If you are a passenger in an Uber, Lyft or Taxi and are injured in an accident in Michigan, your No-Fault insurance policy will be your first resource to cover your medical bills. Your Personal Injury Protection will also reimburse you for lost wages in the event you have to miss work due to the accident. Reimbursement for wages depends on your typical hourly rate or salary and has a monthly cap amount that is reset yearly. 

In addition to No-Fault insurance, the state of Michigan requires rideshare drivers to carry additional coverage of $1 million dollars of liability coverage that is specified for accidents that occur while transporting a passenger as part of the ride-share business. Also, rideshare drivers are now required to have $50,000 dollars of coverage for accidents that occur while traveling between customers. As of July 1, 2020, rideshare drivers will also be required to have one of the three tiers of coverage; either $250,000, $500,000, or unlimited. 

As a third layer of protection for rideshare passengers, Uber and Lyft also provide additional insurance for their drivers while they are transporting customers. 

If compensation for your injuries and damages exceed the limits and caps of the insurance companies involved, you can file a claim against the driver and/or rideshare company. The laws that regulate rideshare companies continue to evolve as the industry expands. If you have been injured in an accident as a passenger of Uber, Lyft or any other transportation service, it is in your best interest to contact a legal representative as soon as possible.

What About Bicycles, Electric Scooters, And Pedestrian Accidents?

Alternate modes of transportation are becoming more and more popular in Michigan, and with good reason. Riding a bicycle, using a scooter or simply walking to your destination is oftentimes cheaper, more enjoyable and better for the environment. Unfortunately, these other forms of travel are often used in the same vicinity as motor vehicle transportation creating a dangerous situation for both parties.

Michigan’s No-Fault Act provides benefits for anyone who is injured by a motor vehicle, whether the person is in another vehicle, riding a bicycle, walking, or using a scooter. Physical contact with a vehicle may be the obvious cause of an accident but it isn’t the only one. Any operation of a vehicle that is a major factor in your injury will be covered by No-Fault insurance protection. 

Injuries suffered in a collision with a vehicle can be very severe due to the exposed nature of cyclists, pedestrians and scooter enthusiasts. Unfortunately, some accidents are fatal. In addition to the benefits provided by No-Fault insurance, victims of negligence may also be able to recover damages by filing a claim against the at-fault driver. A victim may be able to seek compensation for damages that exceed the maximum limits of the No-Fault policy and may include non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, permanent disability, lost wages. If the accident resulted in a fatality, you may also sue for funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, loss of support etc.

Is A Side Swipe A Car Accident?

Yes. A side swipe accident is considered a “real” car accident, regardless of the amount of damage that occurs. Typically in a side swipe accident, two vehicles are traveling in the same direction and collide along the sides of the cars, such as when merging into traffic, but a side swipe can also occur if two vehicles make contact along the side while traveling in opposite directions. Common damage from a side swipe accident includes dents, damage to mirrors, and door damage. 

While the damage from a side swipe accident may seem minor, the Traffic Crash Reporting System (TCRS) reports a sobering statistic. In 2020, there were 27,586 same-direction side swipe accidents and 4,542 opposite direction accidents. Of these combined collisions, nearly 40 people died and over 3000 people suffered injuries. In addition to the harm sideswiping accidents caused physically to individuals, there was also a significant amount of property damage that occurred. 

If you have been involved in a side swipe car accident you should get medical attention if required and call the police so the accident can be investigated and an official report can be filed. Be sure to exchange information with the other driver and, if possible, take pictures or video of the cars, the location and any other evidence that may be needed later. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible to avoid any claim deadlines that would inhibit your ability to receive your No-Fault benefits.

What Should I Do After A Hit And Run Accident?

Car accidents often leave victims stunned and in shock, none more so than when someone causes an accident and then leaves the scene. In Michigan, approximately 10% of all automobile accidents are classified as hit and run. If you or a family member have been involved in a hit and run accident, get proper medical treatment, file a police report, and contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

Victims of hit and run accidents are covered by Michigan’s No-Fault Act and as such, are able to access the exact same benefits as any other car accident victim. However, you may also be able to file a civil action against the driver if you can prove that they are responsible for the accident. In a civil action, you may be able to recover additional compensation above what is covered by insurance. Often this compensation includes: pain and suffering damages, lost wages, permanent disability and disfigurement compensation, etc. If the other driver isn’t located or is found to be uninsured, you can file an uninsured motorist claim and receive benefits. In order to activate an uninsured motorist claim, a police report will likely be required.

The criminal and civil aspects of a hit and run case can be complicated. If you or a family member have been injured in a hit and run accident it is recommended that you seek experienced legal assistance as soon as possible. Various laws apply to accident claims, including stringent time frames and filing deadlines that, if missed, may limit or eliminate your ability to receive the compensation you deserve. 

What Can Be Done For A Fatal Car Accident?

Car accidents that result in fatalities are on the rise in Michigan and across the United States. The tragic loss of a loved one takes an emotional and financial toll on family members that is far-reaching in scope. Losing a loved one due to the negligence of another person is particularly painful. While no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one, a successful settlement can ease the tremendous financial burden that is often placed on families.

Immediate family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a driver whose negligence caused the death of a loved one. The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to recover, as much as possible, the financial and emotional damages caused by the accident.

A family member may be able to receive financial compensation for medical expenses that exceed the insurance company limits, as well as funeral and burial expenses. Additionally, you may be awarded compensation for the loss of financial support the deceased provided, and other financial benefits lost.

Non-economic losses suffered by family members are often more important and damaging than the direct financial losses. You may be able to receive compensation for the pain and suffering your family member endured before death, as well as compensation for the loss of companionship you previously enjoyed with the victim.

Calculating the amount of compensation you are due in a wrongful death claim can be complicated and often requires the help of an experienced and compassionate legal team.

How Does Negligent Driving Affect My Case?

Because Michigan is a no-fault state, driver negligence only comes into play under certain circumstances. Compensation for all of your medical expenses and up to three years of lost wages will be covered by your insurance company under the no-fault system. However, if the accident was severe enough to cause long-term or permanent injury or disfigurement, a severe and long lasting impairment of normal bodily functions, or loss of income longer than three years, then you are able to sue the negligent driver for additional compensation.

In order to sue a negligent driver for compensation related to pain and suffering and non-economic damages, the other driver must be more than 50% at fault for the accident. In addition, the injuries suffered must be severe enough to negatively impact your ability to lead a normal life and participate in normal, daily activities.

Navigating an automobile accident lawsuit in a no-fault state can be complicated and overwhelming but with the help of an experienced personal injury law firm, you can receive the full compensation amount that you deserve. A personal injury attorney can gather and present evidence of negligence on behalf of the other driver, such as police reports, photographic evidence, eyewitness testimony, and expert statements. Additional evidence can be gathered to provide proof that your injuries and losses qualify for additional compensation above the insurance company caps and limits. Medical reports and prognosis from specialists, photographs of injuries, testimony as to your physical limitations, can all be presented to prove your case.

What Happens If The Other Driver Was Uninsured or Underinsured?

It is illegal in Michigan to drive without a current no-fault automobile insurance policy in effect. Included in insurance requirements is Personal Injury Protection (PIP),  Property Protection (PPI), and Residual Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD). Unfortunately, not all drivers obey the law and many people operate a vehicle without insurance or are underinsured. So what happens if you are in an accident and the other driver has no insurance? Your no-fault insurance policy will cover you regardless of who was at fault and whether or not the other driver has the proper insurance.

After an accident with an uninsured driver, you need to file a claim with your insurance company. Your PIP should cover your medical bills and the wages you have lost while recovering from the accident. Some insurance plans have limits on the dollar amount and length of time they will pay. If your medical bills and financial losses exceed the amount your insurance covers, you may step outside of the no-fault system and directly sue the other driver and attempt to recover the remaining amount of your loss. 

Seeking additional compensation from an uninsured or underinsured driver can be an uphill climb. Success depends on having the right legal representation with the knowledge and experience required to tackle tough legal cases. Your attorney should be able to assess your case and give a recommendation based on your specific situation, the assets of the other driver, and the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Can I Get Wage-Loss Benefits For A No Fault Accident?

Yes. Wage-loss reimbursement is part of the Personal Injury Protection benefits included in the Michigan no-fault insurance law. If you have been injured in a car accident and are unable to work, you may qualify for the wage-loss benefit. 

To claim your wage-loss reimbursement benefit, you must file an application with the auto insurance company within one year of the accident. Failure to meet this deadline will result in a forfeiture of this benefit and you will no longer qualify for wage-loss reimbursement.

In addition to filing your claim within the set time frame, you must also provide documentation from a medical doctor stating that you are unable to work. Often this documentation can be provided by the attending physician, who should also be able to give a reasonable estimate on the length of time you will be out of work. You will also be required to provide a wage verification form from your employer, as well as copies of pay stubs, and in some cases, your tax returns. 

The wage-loss benefit does not equal your full paycheck, but provides up to 85% of your pay and may be available for up to three years after the date of the initial accident. If your injuries keep you out of work longer than three years, become permanent, or your normal wages exceed the allowed monthly maximum, you are within your rights to file a claim against the driver and sue for an additional settlement. 

How Long After An Accident Do I Have To File A Claim?

Every state in America has time limits for filing an accident claim. These time limits are called statute of limitations. If you fail to file a claim within the time-frame allowed by law, you may give up your right to seek compensation for your injuries. 

Michigan is a No-Fault state and the statute of limitations to file with your own insurance company for benefits is set at one year. If your injuries are serious enough for you to have a valid claim against the at-fault driver for additional compensation, such as pain and suffering, the statute of limitations is three years. If you have specific questions about your claim and filing deadlines, please consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Failure to understand the meet the legal requirements for compensation can have long-lasting financial impacts.

In addition to the statute of limitations imposed by the state, individual insurance policies may also include certain requirements for reporting that can limit your ability to receive compensation for your injuries. Such requirements may include a 24 hour window to make a police report or a similar time frame in which to report the accident to the insurance company. Missing the timelines set out in your insurance declaration can negatively impact processing your claim and may eliminate your ability to receive compensation.

For help understanding the filing deadlines imposed by the state and your individual insurance policy, contact a Michigan lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. 

Should I Accept the Insurance Offer?

That depends. Some car accidents are very minor and may only cause little to no physical injury, in these cases, it may be reasonable to accept a settlement offer from an insurance company. For other accidents, where injury and property damage occur, there is good reason to contact an attorney before agreeing to any compensation offer from an insurance company.

As an accident victim, it is important to know that insurance companies are in business to make money. Insurance companies are motivated by their own bottom line to pay the least amount possible on every claim. It is likely that they may not have your best interest in mind when they bring a settlement offer to the table. Additionally, it is not unheard of for an insurance adjuster to make an offer that is far below what a case is worth and pressure a victim into signing before consulting with an attorney. 

On average, accident victims who have consulted with, and utilized an attorney during insurance negotiations are awarded a higher dollar amount on their claim. Some studies show that accident victims without an attorney may receive 3 ½ times less the amount of compensation than someone with an attorney. 

A personal injury attorney who works on a contingency basis only gets paid if they win your case. They are motivated to work hard to prove your case and get the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. There is nothing to lose and a significant amount to gain by having legal representation.

How do I know if I suffered a serious impairment to a body function or permanent disfigurement?

Injuries from a car accident may have left you with long-lasting health concerns and permanent damage. Often, the full extent of your injuries and how they will negatively affect your life will not be immediately apparent but show themselves over time. In order to receive fair compensation for your serious injuries you must have proper medical documentation to prove the validity of your claim.

Proper documentation can include; medical records, diagnosis and prognosis from specialists, lab results, radiographic evidence, photographs of permanent scarring, etc. An attorney can help you collect the proper evidence needed to justify the amount of your claim.

In addition to medical evidence, you will also need proof that your injuries have negatively impacted your ability to function at a normal level. Courts will require evidence that your ability to make a living has been impacted, as well as your ability to enjoy daily activities, such as, walking long distances, participating in recreational activities, shopping, cleaning your house, maintaining your yard and enjoying time with your family. 

Proof that your daily living has been permanently disrupted because of the serious injuries you suffered in an accident can come in the form of medical documentation, time missed from work, job loss, vocational retraining, physician testimony, photographic and video evidence etc.

If you have been involved in an accident and suffered serious, potentially permanent injury, a personal injury lawyer can help you recover fair compensation. 

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