Steps to Help Win Your Car Accident Case
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is a very traumatic experience. Unfortunately, it is all too common for Michiganders. According to figures produced by Michigan State Police, there were 314,377 crashes on Michigan’s roads in 2019. These crashes caused 74,963 injuries and 985 fatalities.
If you are injured in a car accident in Michigan, an auto accident attorney can help you file for compensation and fight to win your case.
Understand Michigan’s No-Fault Law
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for losses. These may be covered under Michigan’s no-fault accident law.
Under this law, you waive your right to sue the at-fault driver. Instead, you file a claim with your insurance company. Once your claim is filed, your resulting expenses such as loss of earnings, medical expenses, and attendant allowance are paid.
However, Michigan’s no-fault law is not always straightforward. It is wise to consult an auto accident lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your legal rights are protected and you receive all the compensation you are entitled to by law. The experienced attorneys at Cochran Kroll & Associates P.C. can guide you through this complex process.
Determine the Severity of Your Injuries
If your injuries are relatively minor, the compensation available under the no-fault law may cover all your expenses for medical care and time off work. However, if you are more severely injured, you may find the at-fault driver’s insurance cover is insufficient to meet all your economic damages.
If this happens, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the other driver if you fall within the definition of MCL 500.3135. This section provides that the at-fault driver may still be liable for another party’s non-economic losses if their actions caused the accident victim’s wrongful death, permanent serious disfigurement, or impairment of bodily function.
See if You Meet the Threshold for Non-Economic Damages
There are essentially two types of losses. Economic where the loss can easily be quantified in monetary terms, such as lost wages or medical bills. Non-economic losses are those that do not have a quantifiable monetary value. They are more difficult to prove and require you to meet a threshold of severe bodily impairment or disfigurement to qualify. Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of counsel
Whether your injuries and suffering meet the necessary threshold for these damages is often challenging to prove. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss out on the compensation you are due.
If a loved one is killed in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, family or surviving dependents can sue for non-economic and economic damages. You must prove that the death of your loved one resulted in monetary damages. You must also show that the other driver caused the accident, that they behaved negligently, and that the deceased is survived by dependents or beneficiaries.
Assess Whether No-Fault Insurance Covers Your Economic Losses
Under certain circumstances, you may sue the at-fault driver for excess economic loss. These damages are defined as future, past and present expenses that are not covered by your no-fault policy’s PIP benefits, such as attendant care or medical bills.
These losses may include:
- Lost earnings that exceed Michigan’s no-fault work loss benefits
- Medical expenses that exceed the no-fault medical expense coverage
These losses are not subject to the same threshold test as non-economic losses. This means you may pursue the at-fault driver for these losses even if your injuries do not reach the permanent serious disfigurement or serious body impairment standard.
Learn How to Prove Your Claim
To win your accident injury case in Michigan, you must be able to prove:
- The at-fault driver caused the car crash through their negligence
- You suffered injury as a result of the accident
- The at-fault driver’s negligence caused your injuries
Establishing these three elements of your case is challenging, but a skilled auto accident lawyer at our law firm can guide you through the legal processes.
Gather Evidence to Support Your Claim
If one driver admits fault after the accident, it’s easy to determine liability. However, if the drivers involved disagree on who is to blame for the accident, establishing liability is more difficult.
If you are in an accident involving a personal injury, you should :
No matter how minor you think your injuries are, you must get the police to attend the accident scene. Under Michigan law, it is a requirement to immediately notify the police of a motor vehicle accident where there has been a death, personal injury, or property damage worth over $1,000. Once the police attend the scene, they have to prepare a police report. This document may be important independent evidence to prove your claim.
Note any traffic cameras or any CCTV cameras on nearby buildings
The video footage these cameras capture could be crucial in proving your claim. The Department of Transportation and the CCTV owners retain the footage for a relatively short period. It is therefore vital that the footage is secured before it is destroyed. To protect this evidence, hire a lawyer immediately after the accident so they can take the necessary steps to preserve it.
Record the scene
Take photographs of the accident scene, the damage to the vehicles, and your injuries.
Take witness information
If there are any independent witnesses, take down their contact information, such as name, address, and phone numbers. If possible, ask them if you can record them saying what they saw or write it down. The incident will be fresh in their mind, and it is best to get some sort of record rather than rely on their memory weeks or months down the line.
Communicate with first responders
Make sure you tell the paramedics and emergency room healthcare professionals about all your symptoms and injuries. They will make a record of what you tell them, which can be used to support your claim at a later date. If you don’t tell them about an injury or downplay its severity, you may have considerable trouble proving it was caused by the accident.
Visit your doctor
Even if you receive care from paramedics and hospital staff, book an appointment with your family doctor as soon as possible. You must seek medical advice on your injuries since some symptoms don’t appear immediately after the accident. It is also very important that you follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you fail to attend follow-up appointments and therapy sessions, the at-fault driver’s insurers will claim you are not in as much pain as you claim.
These steps should help you collect the evidence you need to win your case. However, gathering it all can be time-consuming and complicated if you do not know what documents you need or the process to acquire them.
Accomplished personal injury lawyers can be vital in helping you gather the proof you need to support your claim. They know who to contact for video footage, and they can approach owners of CCTV cameras for the footage. If the owners do not release the footage, an experienced attorney can subpoena it.
Interviewing witnesses is a skill developed with practice over the years. Lawyers have the expertise to ask the right questions to get the best possible witness evidence to prove your claim.
Don’t Speak to Insurance Companies
As a rule, you should never speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance company or its representatives without your attorney being present.
The insurance companies in auto accident cases will try to reduce the amount they have to pay out to a minimum. They know you are having a tough time financially because of time off work and medical bills, so insurance companies may make you a lowball settlement offer, hoping you will take it out of desperation. If you take the offer, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars to which you’re entitled.
The at-fault driver’s insurers will try to get you to say something that will prejudice your claim, like admitting fault. You should never speak to them without an attorney present.
A seasoned personal injury lawyer knows what the insurance company is trying to do and how to stop them. A car accident lawyer at our law firm will not let the insurance company bully or trick you into accepting a disadvantageous settlement.
Hire an Attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. to Handle Your Accident Case
The legal processes and the evidential requirements needed to win a personal injury claim are complex. One misstep could easily cause you to lose thousands of dollars in compensation you need to pay for medical bills, attendant care, or cover your lost wages.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.