Many of us know someone who has been injured or killed in an auto, truck, motorcycle or pedestrian accident
. An average of 110 people die each day in car crashes on U.S. roadways. Many auto accidents are caused by distracted drivers (talking on the phone or texting), while other accidents may be caused by drunk drivers or road construction. For many drivers and passengers, it is often not a matter of if, but when.
Such injuries and death often leave the victims and their families devastated and understandably confused about what to do next. Insurance companies often look out for their own best interest, not the policyholder’s (denied claims, bad faith, etc.). (See no-fault law for an explanation of no-fault insurance law in Michigan.)
Sam Serra at Serra & Isopi, P.C. can help you understand and navigate the complex details of your auto claim including your insurance policy, and all the issues that occur with uninsured or underinsured motorists who do not have sufficient coverage. Call Sam for a free phone consultation today. Remember there is no attorney fee unless we collect money for you.
First Party Benefits No-Fault Law
Michigan Auto No-Fault Law was designed to provide persons injured in an auto accident certain benefits regardless of fault called First Party Benefits. You and persons in your household can make a claim with the company that insures your vehicle for these benefits if injured in an auto accident, whether as a driver or passenger. Benefits include:
- Medical costs and expenses for treatment for your injuries
- Reimbursement for lost income for up to three years
- Reimbursement up to $20 a day for ordinary and necessary services you would have performed but had to hire someone else to do like cooking, cleaning, and lawn care
- Attendant care payments for someone to assist you in your house with medical care and assistance due to your injuries
- Payment for home modification and/or vehicle modification to accommodate you because of your disabilities
Third Party Benefits Motor Vehicle Injuries
As to the person who caused your injury, you are entitled to third party benefits. This is covered by that negligent person’s insurance on his or her vehicle. You can recover from that individual’s insurance company both economic and non-economic damages, including:
Uninsured and Underinsured Negligent Parties
In some cases, the driver of the car which causes the accident won’t be insured, or will have an inadequate amount of insurance. Michigan no fault policies will offer a certain amount of “uninsured motorist” coverage, which will entitle you to make a claim for your pain and suffering with your own insurance company. Some insurance providers also allow you to obtain “underinsured motorist” coverage, which will allow you to recover an additional amount if the at fault driver has inadequate coverage to reimburse you for your non-economic and excess economic loses. There are technical requirements for making underinsurance claims which, if violated, may prevent you from recovering benefits. You should read your policy carefully, and should contact an attorney to make a claim.
Finding All Responsible Parties
In some cases, there will be people who may be sued beyond the at-fault driver. If the at-fault driver did not own the car, the owner of the car will typically also be liable for your damages. If the at-fault driver was impaired through the consumption of alcohol, it may be possible to bring a “dram shop” complaint against a business who served alcohol to the driver before the accident while he was visibly impaired. In some cases, it may be possible to bring an action alleging that a defect in the vehicle or the roadway caused or contributed to the accident.
Currently, there is a three-year time limit for personal injury motor vehicle claims against an at-fault driver(s). If the vehicle involved in the accident is owned by a municipality, the state or one of their departments, or driven by an employee while working for them, the time period to sue will be less and certain notices must be given soon after the accident or you can be precluded from suing. A highway defect case must ordinarily be filed within two years of the accident, but notice must be given to the governmental entity controlling that highway within 120 days of the date of the accident. If the at-fault driver was intoxicated, you may have a claim against the establishment the intoxicated driver was drinking at. This is called a Dram Shop case. You have two years to sue the dram shop defendant, but must give notice of the claim to the dram shop defendant within 120 days of hiring an attorney to bring the Dram Shop case. If you have to sue for your first party benefits, you have only one year from the date that the expense and/or wage loss occurred. If you are considering making a claim, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident, so as to avoid having your claim barred by the time limits, also known as the statute of limitations or notice provisions.