Been in a Car Accident? CALL US NOW FOR HELP!
Michigan is a “no-fault” state, meaning that both parties in an auto accident are entitled to valuable benefits from their insurance companies, no matter who caused the crash. Also, pedestrians, bicyclists and even motorcyclists may be entitled to Michigan no-fault benefits. Additionally, accident victims may be able to pursue claims against drivers who are at fault for automobile accidents.
If you speak to a lawyer or insurance agent about your car accident claim, you may hear about your "first-party" and "third-party" claims. This confusing language is shorthand for whether you are making a claim for medical benefits with your own insurance company ("first party") or if you are making a claim for pain and suffering resulting from your injuries against the driver of another car ("third party").
In seeking assistance after a car accident, it is very helpful to consult with a lawyer who is an expert in Michigan's auto accident laws. Insurance companies for people who cause accidents will do all they can to avoid paying damages and may offer inadequate settlement offers to unrepresented persons – if they make an offer at all. Also, your own insurance company is unlikely to fully inform you of the benefits you are entitled to receive under Michigan no-fault law, and many insurance companies have been known to deny or cut off benefits to people who are legally entitled to receive them. An experienced lawyer can help you protect your rights.
Do You Know Your Benefits? CALL US NOW FOR HELP!
Anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident in Michigan is entitled to certain no-fault benefits regardless of fault, unless they were driving a car that they owned with no insurance. This can be a very confusing area of the law, and your insurance company will likely do all it can to prevent paying you the benefits that you are not only entitled to but also pay insurance premiums to receive.
Following an accident, you must immediately file a no-fault application for benefits with the applicable insurance company. This application MUST be filed within ONE YEAR from the date of the accident or you will forever lose any benefits to which you might be entitled.
Below, please find a brief summary of the specific benefits that you may be entitled to under the Michigan No-Fault Act:
- Medical Expenses: The Michigan no-fault law allows a person to obtain all allowable expenses, which are defined as "all reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services and accommodations for an injured person's care, recovery or rehabilitation." These expenses usually include doctor bills, hospital bills, medication, medical equipment and rehabilitation expenses. Dependent upon the type of insurance coverage involved, these may be coordinated benefits or full benefits. Coordinated benefits pay all expenses not covered by your basic health insurance. Full benefits pay all medical expenses incurred, even if those are paid by a health insurance provider. A person seriously injured, such as a quadriplegic or paraplegic, may be entitled to additional benefits, including modifications to a home or van for wheelchair accessibility. Michigan attendant or aide care, provided by a loved one, neighbor or an outside agency, will be reimbursed at an hourly rate. This medical no-fault benefit is usually paid out by your own no-fault insurance company.
- Wage Loss: The appropriate no-fault insurance company will reimburse wage loss benefits to an injured person for three years following an accident, covering 85% of the gross lost wages up to a maximum benefit. For 2013, the monthly maximum wage loss benefit is $5,189.00. A doctor's disability slip and proof that you were earning a wage are required. If you were still looking for work or were temporarily unemployed at the time of an accident, you will still be able to receive benefits.
- Replacement Services: The replacement services provision of the Michigan no-fault act will pay up to $20 a day for any household services you previously did for yourself but cannot do now because of your injuries and therefore must hire someone else to perform. This benefit is paid during the first three years after the date of the accident. The usual household replacement services include home cleaning, snow removal, lawn mowing, babysitting, grocery shopping, running errands, preparing meals or anything around the home that the injured person used to do but can no longer do because of the accident. Replacement services can be performed by family members.
- Attendant Care: When the party involved in an accident is unable to adequately care for themselves, a third-party assistant may be hired to help during the injured party's time of need. Attendant care is a no-fault benefit that entitles injured accident victims to have nursing care while they are at home recovering from injuries. Attendant care benefits are also referred to as nursing services and are defined by attendant care lawyers as “activities of daily living,” such as monitoring and supervision for safety reasons, administering medication, bathing, dressing, walking, styling/combing of hair, other grooming, help using the toilet, driving the patient, fetching things for the patient, carrying and lifting things for the patient and wound care. The assistant chosen can be a husband or wife, child, neighbor, friend or professional. The no-fault insurance company is financially responsible for the third-party assistant.
- Mileage Benefits: The no-fault insurance company will reimburse transportation expenses, including the cost for mileage to and from doctor appointments, hospitals and rehabilitation clinics – or bus and taxi fare if you do not drive. Our Michigan no-fault attorneys recommend that clients keep a detailed record of their mileage expenses and submit them to the no-fault insurance company along with their other medical bills.
Do You Know Your Rights? CALL US NOW FOR HELP!
Michigan's no-fault statute was designed to limit litigation by shifting the risk of certain losses from automobile accidents to the owner of the vehicle. The cost of your medical care, lost wages (ordinarily, awarded in the amount of 85% of your pre-accident gross wages) and rehabilitation will ordinarily be paid by your own no-fault policy or that of the owner of the car in which you were riding – although "excess" wage losses (those beyond the limits of your first-party coverage) may be part of your claim against the driver (or drivers) who caused the accident. In short, most of your economic losses (out-of-pocket expenses) will be paid by your own insurance company, while you can file a lawsuit against the driver(s) who caused the accident for non-economic losses (pain and suffering) and excess economic loss.
Recovery for pain and suffering (non-economic damages) for accident-related injuries is limited to cases where the person making the claim suffered death, serious impairment of an important body function or permanent serious disfigurement. The injury must also be "objectively manifested" – that is, some soft-tissue injuries cannot support a lawsuit, as doctors will not be able to find any objective evidence that the injury exists. A "serious impairment of body function" is an injury that affects your ability to live a normal life. This can include an impairment of your ability to walk or to engage in more basic functions such as breathing. This standard also contemplates your normal life and how the injuries you sustained have affected it. The duration of the disability may affect a court's determination of whether the impairment was serious and its effect on your normal life. Closed head injuries are subject to special rules.
In a third-party case, damages are usually paid out from the wrongdoer's insurance company. If the automobile accident in a third-party case took place more than three years ago, the victim cannot sue the other driver or the other driver's insurance company for injuries, no matter how serious. The only exception is for minors.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident, please contact us immediately to discuss your potential case. Remember, you pay absolutely NO ATTORNEY FEE unless we collect for you.
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