Whiting Law has worked with hundreds of clients who have been hurt while driving and answered countless numbers of their questions. Many motorists are confident in their abilities, and some have never thought about what they would do after an accident. However, it’s important for anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car to have basic knowledge of what they would do in the event of a collision.
Below are the answers to five questions we’ve heard the most from clients. Arming yourself with this information now will save you some trouble after an accident. While we hope you will never need to use it, keep in mind that Whiting Law is here to provide legal help whenever you’re injured.
Q: What is my insurance going to cover?
A: In Michigan, drivers are required to have basic no-fault coverage. This includes personal injury protection (PIP). If you or anyone riding with you is hurt after an accident, PIP will cover the medical expenses – with no maximum limit. Michigan auto insurance also requires a minimum of $20,000 in bodily injury (BI) coverage which protects an at-fault driver from a pain and suffering claim. No-fault insurance does not pay for damage to your vehicle. That would fall under collision coverage, a plan which drivers are not mandated to have, though it’s a very good idea to do so.
Q: Can I file a lawsuit if the other driver caused the accident?
A: In Michigan, under no-fault law, you normally can’t sue another driver after an accident. There are exceptions, however: if the accident resulted in the serious injury or death of someone in your vehicle, or you are a non-resident of Michigan driving a car registered in a different state, a lawsuit is an option. Also, if the other driver is more than 50% at fault for the accident, and it has caused damage to your car not covered by insurance, you can sue for a maximum of $1,000. This is referred to as mini-tort case.
Q: I was the one at fault in the accident. What now?
A: If you were wounded, immediately call 911 for medical help before anything else. Even if you caused the accident, you are still entitled to compensation for any injuries under Michigan no-fault law with a valid auto insurance policy. You may receive a citation from the responding officer at the scene, and depending on the causes and severity of the crash, as well as your driving record, there may be other consequences. You could receive points on your license, be obligated to pay a fine, or have your license suspended. In extreme situations, it’s possible to be sent to jail after an accident, but this is rare. Keep in mind that these penalties are temporary, whereas an injury can alter your life permanently. Therefore, if you were hurt after an accident, your number one priority should be seeking medical attention, even if you were at fault.
Q: I’m a Michigan driver, but had a car accident in another state. How will this be handled?
A: The laws in the state where the collision took place willpply. Your insurance plan will most likely still provide you with coverage after an accident, but it may be implemented differently in accordance with local regulations. If you know you’re going to be traveling extensively in another state, it’s a good idea to review its insurance laws, which can usually be found through a quick internet search. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website may also have helpful information; check this directory to find the one you need.
Q: I filed a claim for my medical care with my insurance, but they’re not paying! What should I do?
A: Michigan’s generous no-fault law, while offering many positives for consumers, has resulted in insurers making great efforts to sidestep their responsibility to pay medical benefits after an accident. Whiting Law has handled many cases like this, and we’re all too familiar with the tactics insurance companies use, like insisting you get an independent medical examination by a doctor of their choosing, who will inevitably come to the conclusion that your condition existed prior to the accident or is far less serious than you (and your own doctor) know it to be. Your best move is to get an attorney who’s not afraid to take insurance companies to court.
These are just a few of the questions that our clients ask us every day. If you need more information on any of these topics or another issue related to auto accidents, please contact us, and we’d be glad to provide you with further assistance.