Car Accident Lawyer in Michigan
First steps: Car Accidents
When you have been harmed in an auto accident, even if the injury is slight, complications can later occur. You may be faced with unexpected medical costs, lost wages, and other losses. After a car crash, it is important to seek immediate medical attention and then consult with an experienced attorney about your case.
At Michigan Injury Lawyers, we understand the devastation an injury can have on the accident victim and their family. During the days, weeks and months following your crash, we will investigate the hard facts of your case, including every detail that needs to be found, and evaluate the incident. Because our firm focuses on personal injury law, we have the resources and experience to help clients win settlements and verdicts that reflect the full extent of their injuries and losses.
Getting the Legal Help You Need
A minor car accident can disrupt your life, and a serious crash can lead to long-lasting injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, loss of limbs, severe burns or spinal cord damage. In the event of a catastrophic injury, medical care may be extensive and ongoing, with the potential need for nursing care or personal assistance for months, years, or life. Victims may become disabled and lose their ability to be self-supporting and independent. Their families may face emotional and financial hardship and other losses. If the accident could have been prevented, those responsible should be held accountable.
Making an injury claim under Michigan accident laws is not always straightforward. Complications and difficulties can arise and you may have many questions about your case, such as:
- How does no-fault insurance apply?
- Does my claim involve only a first party or a third party as well?
- How do I determine negligence in the incident?
- What is a “threshold injury” and did I sustain one?
At Michigan Injury Lawyers, we handle these types of questions and difficulties every day. Our lawyers have represented hundreds of accident victims and have the negotiation and courtroom skills necessary to help you get a fair settlement from an insurance company or a favorable verdict in court. We focus on building strong cases with efficiency and will fight to protect your rights throughout the claims process.
Let Us Help While You Recover
Car accidents are usually caused by human error. A mistake made by another driver may entitle you to economic and non-economic damages if the other party was totally or partially at fault. Financial consequences you suffer, such as medical costs and lost wages, are referred to as economic damages. Your pain, suffering and emotional distress are referred to as non-economic damages. Because Michigan is a no-fault state, your claim will depend on many factors. You will benefit by having an experienced attorney at your side to sort out the details of your case.
Handling Your Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death is an incident in which someone dies due to the negligence of another. If you are faced with the death of a loved one, you may be justified in pursuing a wrongful death claim. Surviving family members of the deceased can be awarded compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of valuable income, benefits, services and loss of love, companionship and affection. As in injury claims, the responsible party may be a negligent individual, manufacturer of the vehicle or auto part, or a government entity that contributed to the accident.
Let Us Help While You Recover
Car accidents often happen due to human error. In fact, many causes of car accidents can lead to devastating personal injuries and damages.
Some of the most common causes of Michigan car accidents and car accidents across the country include:
- Distracted motor vehicle operation – Today’s drivers are bombarded by technology in their vehicles, including cellular phones, tablets, and GPS devices. When a driver uses an electronic device to make a call (non-hands-free) or send a text message, his or her eyes wander from the road, increasing the chances of a collision with another motor vehicle, a bystander, or a stationary object. Roughhousing in the vehicle, loud music, and disruptive passengers also constitute distracted driving and can divert a driver’s attention away from the road.
- Violating traffic laws and regulations – Michigan traffic laws and regulations are on the books to keep motor vehicle drivers and their passengers safe. When drivers violate Michigan road rules, such as by speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians, and recklessly weaving in and out of traffic, they can bring about serious collisions in which others suffer injuries.
- Road defects – In some cases, road defects—especially around construction zones and other work areas—may cause or contribute to a car accident. When that is the case, an accident victim could bring a claim against the roadway owner, such as a Michigan township, county, or city, along with a construction company or other entity responsible for maintaining the area. However, when filing a claim or lawsuit against a governmental entity, usually one or more procedural notice prerequisites apply. In other words, if you file a lawsuit against a municipality without first complying with the notice requirement, your lawsuit—along with your claim for damages—could wind up getting dismissed.
- Drunk driving – Drivers who operate their cars and trucks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs increase the chances that they will cause a serious accident. Alcohol, for instance, is a depressant that slows down a driver’s CNS functioning. When he or she gets behind the wheel after having one too many drinks, the driver may suffer from blurry or distorted vision and he or she might experience significantly delayed reaction time. That’s why the driver may not react in time to avoid a car crash or pedestrian accident.
When negligent motor vehicle operators cause an accident on a Michigan roadway, they can seriously injure the driver and occupants of another vehicle. The injuries the car accident victim suffers often depend on the force of the impact and the type of collision that occurs.
Some common types of car accidents that occur in Michigan include:
- T-bone accidents – T-bone accidents are common at traffic intersections where one driver fails to yield the right-of-way to another driver. These accidents happen when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle.
- Rear-end collisions – Rear-end collisions are often the result of speeding or following a vehicle too closely. In a rear-end accident, the front of one vehicle collides with the rear of another vehicle. In some instances, the collision’s force is so great that it starts a chain-reaction collision that involves several vehicles. Rear-end motor vehicle accidents often lead to whiplash-type neck and back injuries and can have other serious consequences.
- Head-on collisions – A head-on collision occurs when the front of one motor vehicle impacts the front of another vehicle. These types of accidents are common on dual-lane highways—especially where one vehicle crosses the centerline due to distracted or intoxicated driving.
If one of these car accidents injured you or someone you love, seek medical treatment for your injuries. This usually means following up at a local hospital emergency room, urgent care facility, or seeking immediate medical treatment with a primary care doctor.
The injuries that a car accident victim suffers in one of these accidents depends upon a variety of factors, including the force of the collision, the way that the driver or passenger’s body moves in the vehicle, and whether the driver/passenger’s body strikes something in the vehicle, such as the window, headrest, or front console. Both hard and soft-impact car collisions can lead to myriad injuries resulting in significant costs—both economic and non-economic.
A mistake made by another driver may entitle you to economic and non-economic damages if the other party was totally or partially at fault. Financial consequences you suffer, such as medical costs and lost wages, are referred to as economic damages. Your pain, suffering, and emotional distress are non-economic damages. Because Michigan is a no-fault state, your claim will depend on many factors. You will benefit by having an experienced attorney at your side to sort out the details of your case.
Negotiating a Car Accident Claim With the Insurance Company and Knowing When to File a Lawsuit in Court
If you suffered injuries in a car accident that resulted from another person’s negligence, you have the option of filing a claim. In most instances, since Michigan is a no-fault insurance state when it comes to car accidents, you will file the claim with your own motor vehicle insurance company. However, in some instances—particularly if you have high medical bills and/or a permanent injury—you will need to file a claim or lawsuit against the driver(s) who caused your motor vehicle accident.
Even when your own insurance company is involved in your car accident case, you should not count on them or their adjusters to do you any favors. In fact, in many instances, if an insurance company finds out that you are asserting a claim, it becomes your worst enemy. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the insurance company’s attitude actually makes sense. After all, insurance companies make their money by collecting premiums from their insureds and keeping as much of that money in-house as possible.
However, these insurance companies lose significant amounts of money if they have to pay out excessive amounts to satisfy a car accident claim or lawsuit. Therefore, any insurance company will take whatever measures it can to limit payouts in car accident cases.
For this reason, initial offers that insurance companies and their adjusters make are often far below the true value of your claim. In almost all cases, it makes little sense for an accident victim to accept an insurance company’s introductory offer in a car accident case, since more settlement money may come to the table. A Michigan car accident attorney can assemble a demand package (which includes your medical records, medical bills, and lost wage documentation) and negotiate with the insurance company for a favorable offer to settle your car accident case.
In some instances, it takes several rounds of negotiations between the car accident victim’s lawyer and the insurance company (or the insurance company’s lawyer) to reach a settlement that is fair and acceptable. At other times, the insurance company might refuse to offer the accident victim sufficient and acceptable compensation, at which point the accident victim might elect to file a lawsuit in the Michigan state court system.
Just because you file a lawsuit in court, however, does not necessarily mean that the case will go all the way to a jury trial. In fact, the large majority of car accident cases settle out of court—long before the parties ever get to trial.
Statute of Limitations for Michigan Car Accident Lawsuits
As in other states, the State of Michigan has a statute of limitations that applies to car accident cases. The statute of limitations serves as the deadline by which accident victims must file a lawsuit for damages. In almost all Michigan car accident cases, the statute of limitations for filing suit is three years from the accident date. If the accident victim does not file a lawsuit in the court system within that three-year deadline, the accident victim probably cannot recover damages for injuries suffered in the car accident.
A Michigan car accident lawyer can file a timely lawsuit in your car accident case against every appropriate party.
The Length of a Michigan Car Accident Trial
In some cases, insurance companies refuse to offer car accident victims the monetary compensation that they deserve for the injuries they suffer in an accident. For example, the insurance company might be contending that the accident victim suffered one or more preexisting injuries and that the injuries in question were not causally related to the accident.
When the insurance company refuses to offer full and fair compensation for car accident injuries, the accident victim might decide to take his or her case to a jury trial. At a jury trial, the jury decides what, if any, damages the accident victim may recover for injuries based on the testimony presented at trial.
Car accident jury trials can vary in length. While some jury trials are over in a day or two, others can stretch on for one or more weeks.
The length of a car accident jury trial typically depends on:
- The issues in dispute at the trial (usually fault/liability and damages)
- The number of witnesses (including both fact witnesses and expert witnesses) who need to testify at the trial
- The types of damages which the accident victim is alleging (including both economic and non-economic damages)
- The types of evidence the parties present at trial (including documentary evidence and video evidence)
Alternatives to Car Accident Jury Trials in Michigan
When it comes to car accident jury trials, there are always risks involved. For example, there is always a risk that the jury might not award you the damages that you expect or deserve. An experienced Michigan car accident lawyer can help you decide whether you should roll the dice and take your case to trial or consider alternative dispute resolution proceedings, including mediation or arbitration.
At a mediation proceeding, for example, a neutral mediator works to facilitate settlement discussions between the parties, while at arbitration, the parties present evidence during a “mini-trial,” and a neutral arbitrator typically issues a damage award. Unlike a jury trial verdict, the result of a binding arbitration proceeding is not usually subject to appeal in the court system.
Handling Your Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death takes place when someone dies due to the negligence of another. If you are dealing with a loved one’s death, you may pursue a wrongful death claim. The legal elements needed to prove a wrongful death claim are essentially the same as those needed to prove a car accident claim or lawsuit. Specifically, the decedent’s family members—or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate—must establish that another person or entity behaved unreasonably under the circumstances, and, consequently, the accident led to the decedent’s untimely death.
In some instances, depending upon the accident circumstances, insurance companies are not willing to offer a significant amount of money to settle a wrongful death claim. Insurance companies often believe that since the deceased individual is no longer available to testify in the event the matter goes to trial, a jury would be less likely to award the decedent’s survivors money. As in other injury cases, if the insurance company won’t offer favorable compensation to settle a wrongful death claim, the claimants or personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state court system.
Assuming the wrongful death claimants and/or the decedent’s personal representative can satisfy all of the legal elements of a claim or lawsuit, they might be eligible to recover various types of damages as part of the wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Surviving family members of the deceased can receive compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of valuable income, benefits, services, and loss of love, companionship, and affection.
As in injury claims, the responsible party in a wrongful death claim or lawsuit may be a negligent individual, manufacturer of the vehicle or auto part, or a government entity that contributed to the accident.
An experienced Michigan car accident lawyer could assist you with filing a wrongful death claim—or a wrongful death lawsuit—against the at-fault party. We can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and pursue a favorable settlement offer. If the insurance company, for whatever reason, will not offer favorable monetary compensation to resolve the wrongful death claim, we could litigate the wrongful death case in the Michigan state court system.
Contact Our Law Firm
At Michigan Injury Lawyers, we focus on helping injured victims and their families maximize their financial recovery. We know that the success of your case depends on our hard work and dedication. Our attorneys go the extra mile from the initial investigation through all facets of the legal process, using all of our firm’s resources and abilities. We will fight aggressively to ensure that you receive a favorable outcome for your case, whether negotiating with an insurance company or taking a case to trial. Contact us today by calling 313-GET-HELP to schedule a free consultation and discuss how we can help you favorably resolve your case.