Who’s Liable in a Car Accident?
The question of liability after a car accident isn’t always clear. If you live in Michigan, you might be wondering why fault matters — we live in a no-fault state, right?
While no-fault auto insurance ensures that claims for crash-related expenses are reimbursed by an insurance carrier, such as medical bills, it does not ensure compensation for pain and suffering damages from an at-fault-driver.
Determining fault, or negligence, is key to securing compensation for pain and suffering from an at-fault driver.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car or truck accident, don’t wait. Our Traverse City, Michigan-based personal injury lawyers are ready to assist you. Call 231-929-0500 or submit an inquiry online today.
Yes, fault is still important in a no-fault state, like Michigan.
No-fault auto insurance laws do not absolve negligent drivers. A negligent driver can still be liable for an accident victim’s pain and suffering so long as the victim was not liable for the crash and the victim’s injuries meet Michigan’s threshold requirement of death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of body function.
So, it is still important, even in Michigan, to determine liability so that a lawsuit may be brought against the at-fault person after an injury accident.
A multi-car crash is any accident where more than one motor vehicle is involved.
In Michigan, liability is most often equated with negligence. Motor vehicle negligence claims and lawsuits are usually referred to as third-party cases because the respective duties of the parties involved arise from common-law tort principles. A driver is negligent when the driver fails to use ordinary care when operating a vehicle, such as driving distracted, speeding, or failing to yield.
Determining negligence is not always straight forward. A negligent driver will often challenge liability. In said cases, an expert is sometimes needed to determine the cause of the crash.
Determining negligence is more challenging in cases involving multiple drivers. In some cases, such as pile-up cases, the negligence of multiple drivers causes one or several injuries. In those circumstances, a severely injured car-crash victim can seek compensation for pain and suffering from multiple parties. In these cases, determining who bears the most fault is tough, which is why hiring an experienced attorney is crucial.
Severely injured Michigan drivers have a claim for economic and non-economic damages.
Michigan’s No-Fault Act requires Michigan drivers to first turn to their own insurance to pay for economic damages. Economic damages, such a medical bills and lost wages are submitted to the driver’s No-Fault or PIP insurance company. However, in some instances a car-crash victim must seek reimbursement for economic damages from an at-fault driver. Now that Michigan drivers are no longer required to maintain unlimited medical expense coverage, car-crash victims who opted out of unlimited coverage will be required to seek reimbursement for No-Fault benefits (such as medical expenses or wage loss) from an at-fault driver in some circumstances. Thus, it is important to establish fault.
A claim for non-economic damages, or pain and suffering damages, can be brought against an at-fault driver so long as the car-crash victim sustains an injury that meets Michigan’s threshold requirement of death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of body function. These claims are defended against by the at-fault driver’s insurance.
It is likely that at some point, you will be impacted one way or another by a motor vehicle accident. At Dingeman & Dancer, PLC, we understand just how life-altering a car accident can be. For more than 30 years, our community has trusted our Michigan personal injury lawyers to represent them in their time of need.