What if My Injury Was Caused by Road Damage
Michigan’s long winters cause damage to the roads. The snow and ice often leave huge potholes, one of the most common and dangerous hazards that cause accidents.
After an accident, especially if it results in injury, there is a lot to consider. Not only do you have to deal with doctors, medical bills, and pain, you’ll also have to attend to insurance and legal matters.
If a damaged road caused your vehicle accident, you might be entitled to more compensation than awarded by the ‘no-fault’ system. Consult an experienced lawyer before pursuing a personal injury lawsuit to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
The No-Fault Policy
In Michigan, every driver must have no-fault insurance. If you are involved in an auto accident, your insurance company will cover you, regardless of who is at fault. No-fault insurance covers medical bills, lost wages, replacement services, and any damage you caused to property. It will not, however, cover repairs to your car.
The basic no-fault insurance consists of three parts.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
The first part of your no-fault insurance covers ‘reasonable’ medical expenses. It also will pay up to 85% of your lost wages, but only for a limited time.
You’ll also receive a $20 per day stipend to hire outside help if your injuries mean you can’t perform household duties.
Property Protection (PPI)
PPI covers you for up to $1 million in damage, but only to other parked vehicles or property. It doesn’t cover any damage you cause to your car or any other cars involved in the accident.
Residual Liability Insurance – Bodily Injury and Property Damage
Unless you seriously injure or kill someone, this liability insurance protects you from being sued after a car accident. It also doesn’t protect you if the other driver is from out of state.
If you are seriously injured, your no-fault insurance might not provide enough compensation for your injuries.
If you believe a poorly maintained road caused your accident injuries, you might be able to prove negligence on the part of the agency responsible for maintenance.
Several different government agencies are responsible for maintaining the roads of Michigan. Depending on the road classification, the responsibility for maintenance might lie with a local, county, or state agency.
Regardless of which agency is in charge, they have a duty to keep the roads safe. To receive compensation, you’ll have to prove negligence on the part of the government agency.
Negligence can be difficult to prove. You need to not only prove that the agency had a duty to maintain the roads, but that they also failed to meet their duty.
Next, you’ll need to prove that your accident would not have happened if the agency had upheld their duty. You’ll also need to show that their failure to uphold their duty directly caused your accident and injury.
Lastly, you’ll have to demonstrate real damages, either financial or physical. Without demonstrable damages, you won’t receive any compensation.
Michigan does recognize pain and suffering as a legitimate claim. You’ll still need to prove that their failure to meet their duty caused the pain and suffering.
To prove negligence, you’ll need evidence. Immediately after your accident, call the police and file a report. While waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures. Make sure to capture the road damage (for example, the pothole), damage to your car, and any injuries.
If you have a dashcam, make sure to back up the footage on your computer.
If possible, take measurements of the pothole, including width and depth. Many smartphones today have a measuring app. While it might not be perfect, it’s a good start.
If you can return to the site later with measuring equipment, do so. The measurements could make the difference between winning and losing your case.
Keep a private record of all medical reports, doctor appointments, medications prescribed, and all bills if you or a family member require medical attention.
Filing a Claim
Government agencies are protected, and therefore many damage claims are denied under governmental immunity laws.
If your claim is under $1,000, you won’t need to file a lawsuit. The Michigan Department of Transport (MDOT) will investigate your claim and respond within 90 days.
However, if your claim is over $1,000, you have to file a lawsuit against MDOT. Because the government denies so many claims, MDOT recommends hiring a lawyer.
You may also be eligible for disability benefits if your injury resulted in a short or long-term disability. When choosing your lawyer, make sure they are also knowledgeable about disability law.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Especially in lawsuits against government agencies like MDOT, it can be challenging to argue negligence successfully. Car accident lawyers have handled similar cases in the past, and know what to expect.
An attorney can also help you wade through the paperwork and ensure you don’t miss any deadlines.
As soon as possible after the accident, contact a lawyer. Deadlines when dealing with government agencies can be short, and you don’t want to miss your window to pursue compensation.
Many lawyers will work on a contingent fee basis, meaning that you won’t have to pay anything upfront. You’ll only owe money if they win your case.
A lawyer also has the experience and knowledge needed to determine if you have enough evidence to prove that negligence caused your injuries and damage to your vehicle.
A lawyer is also essential in a wrongful death lawsuit. When dealing with the loss of a loved one, it can be overwhelming to consider legal action. Working with an experienced and compassionate lawyer helps ease your workload and increase your chances of receiving compensation.
What to Do Before Your Free Consultation
Prepare all your records, including information on the date, time, and location of the accident. Make sure you’ll be able to access all your pictures and videos during your consultation.
Bring copies of the accident report, police report, and any medical records you have.
Remember to be completely honest with your lawyer. They need all the information possible to present a successful case.
Schedule a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident caused by road damage, a personal injury attorney could help you pursue compensation.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. has a wealth of experience with car accident lawsuits, and have successfully argued thousands of cases. Call our law firm at (866) 642-4529 to arrange a free consultation today.