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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. This can include an impairment of your ability to work or to engage in more basic functions such as walking or breathing. 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.