When another driver’s carelessness causes an accident that changes your life forever, you need an auto accident attorney who is prepared to go the distance for you. At Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, we have been putting the legal system to work for victims and their families in Michigan for over 30 years.
Contact us today to request a free case evaluation, or keep reading this page to learn more about auto accident claims, Michigan law, and how an experienced car accident attorney can help you.
Car accidents can happen for any number of reasons. However, some accident types are more common than others. Common types of accidents include:
Crashes due to drugged, drunk, or distracted driving also frequently occur, as do accidents involving pedestrians, including hit-and-runs. Regardless of how a wreck occurs, it has the potential to result in severe injury and costly damages. No accident is “too minor”—if you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident, contact our firm today.
In Michigan, there are two types of auto accident claims you can file:
As a no-fault state, Michigan requires every driver to carry no-fault coverage, which almost guarantees that accident victims will receive compensation for the injuries and damages they sustain in wrecks. When you file a no-fault claim with your insurer, you may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and lost wages.
Michigan only allows third-party claims to cover the pain and suffering prompted by death, permanent disfigurement, and any serious impairment of a body function. Typically, these claims are filed following accidents caused by general negligence, distracted driving, drunk driving, or a vehicle defect, and they are often the type of claims that go to trial.
After a car accident, you need to immediately get off to the side of the road and assess yourself and others for injuries.
Next, call 911.
While you wait for help to arrive, do the following:
Once you get home, schedule a medical assessment immediately. Even if you do not have visible injuries, you may develop delayed injuries and complications. Your medical records will serve as crucial evidence for your claim. Report the crash to your insurer and request an application for no-fault insurance benefits. Finally, contact an experienced auto accident attorney.
Ideally, you should hire an auto accident lawyer as soon after the accident as possible. When you work with a lawyer early in the process, you can avoid mistakes that may cost you part or all of your claim.
For instance, you cannot recover benefits twice for the same accident. If you plan to file a third-party claim instead of a claim for no-fault benefits, your insurer may try to get you to sign a release form. This release relieves your insurer of its responsibility to pay out your no-fault benefits. This could have devastating consequences for you. Likewise, if you use your health insurance benefits to pay for medical expenses while your case is pending and you end up recovering compensation, your health insurance company may place a lien on your award.
Also, a 2012 study from the Insurance Research Council revealed that car accident victims who hire attorneys right away recover substantially larger settlements than those who do not. This is the case even after paying the contingent fee.
The personal injury claims process with insurance carriers and the court system can be confusing and complex, and you are likely to have many questions along the way. Our team is prepared to address your concerns at every stage, and we have answered some of the more frequently asked questions below.
After your accident, it’s important that you find an experienced attorney who listens to you and has trial experience. During your search, look for firms who have handled cases similar to yours, have trial experience with auto accidents, and offer free case evaluations. Note how their legal team interacts with you during the case evaluation, do you feel comfortable with this team? Are they listening to your concerns? Be sure to also look at their memberships, awards, and past case results.
Lastly, when searching, also be sure to read reviews and seek referrals from friends and family.
If you hope to recover fair compensation, the answer is yes. When you hire a lawyer, they can educate you on what you need to do immediately following the collision to help your case. They can also inform you of common mistakes to avoid.
Additionally, your lawyer can help with the investigation process. The strength of your case relies heavily on the evidence you provide, such as photographs, eyewitness accounts, video surveillance from nearby cameras, debris, police reports, and vehicle damages. Without an attorney to advise you, you may unwittingly destroy evidence or fail to gather what you need.
Finally, a lawyer can assist you with every aspect of the claims process, from the initial filing to the acceptance of a settlement. The right attorney will prepare from day one to go to trial so that, if it comes to this, they can present your case in the best possible light in court.
Most personal injury law firms — including Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys — work on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that you do not have to pay anything upfront. In fact, you do not have to pay any fee unless we’re successful.
If you then choose to hire this attorney, you’ll have to sign various forms allowing them to obtain information relevant to your case, such as your medical records. They will then contact the other party in your case, your insurance company, and your medical providers, and individuals and organizations with evidence for your case, such as the local police department.
From there, your attorney will guide you through every step of the case, acting as your voice and your advocate. They will meet you wherever you need them, whether that’s at home, in the hospital, or anywhere else that’s convenient for you. They will also make sure that you always understand what’s going on with your case so that you can decide how to proceed.
Every case is different, so it is impossible to know just how much your claim is worth until a member of our team has reviewed all the evidence. That said, certain factors affect the amount of potential compensation including: the severity of your pain and suffering, whether you sustained psychological injuries, whether you sustained scars or permanent disfigurement, whether your injuries resulted in a disability or affected your ability to work during and after recovery, and the amount of fault assigned to you.
Your health insurance company covers your medical expenses if you don’t have auto insurance.
Michigan is a no-fault state. In no-fault states, you must look to your own insurance company for no-fault benefits, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. No-fault benefits include wage loss, payment of medical bills, and replacement services. Your insurance company may subrogate the claim by filing a claim against the other driver to recover the money paid out to you.
If you believe the accident was your fault, you should still consult an attorney, as there can be many causes for an accident. You should not admit fault for an accident until a full investigation has been conducted. Generally, your health insurance company will cover the cost of treatment for injuries sustained in the accident. Sometimes, you can then seek reimbursement from your auto insurance company as part of the settlement.
If you are involved in an accident with an individual who doesn’t have insurance, you will likely have to collect from your own insurance company. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may also help to supplement damages caused by a driver with no or low insurance coverage.
When you interact with the other party involved in the accident, you should acquire all of the following information:
● Phone number
● Driver’s license
● Insurance information
● Registration information
● Make, model, and identifying details of the other car
Do not simply write down the other car’s license plate number–insurance companies cannot look up the other car on this information alone.
Whether you’re talking to the police or to the other part, it’s important to not admit fault under any circumstances. Keep in mind that even innocuous statements may later be construed as an admission of fault, including apologies. While you may want to apologize if only out of shock, an apology could be used against you. Instead, keep your interactions brief but polite. Ask if the other needs assistance, collect their information, and communicate details of the accident to responding officers.
Every auto accident policy requires policyholders to immediately report accidents, regardless of how minor they may seem. Many policyholders do not report minor accidents because they do not want their insurance rates to go up.
However, failing to report an accident can have serious penalties in the future. From an attorney’s perspective, failing to report an accident only to later file a personal injury lawsuit significantly weakens your case, since the other side can easily argue that you did not think the accident was important enough to report. Worse, your refusal to immediately report the accident makes you look untrustworthy.
Every car accident is different, which means every case is different. Generally, an auto accident attorney will look at two factors to determine if you have a case:
Legal liability refers to a person or entity’s legal responsibilities under the law. In personal injury law, liability is the concept of fault. Essentially, when someone is held liable for an accident, they are deemed to be at fault for the accident. Liability also usually hinges on the concept of negligence.
Establishing negligence in personal injury has four components:
1. Legal standard of care between the two parties
2. Breach of that duty of care due to negligence, careless action, or inaction
3. Damages (physical and emotional injuries, property damage, lost income, etc.)
4. A causal link between negligence and damages
There are two types of damages:
1. Economic, which are damages you can put a numeric price on, such as medical expenses
2. Non-economic, which are damages not associated with a quantifiable numeric amount, such as pain, suffering and loss of quality of life.
The extent of your damages determines whether you have a case and how much it might be worth.
Don’t wait—if you’ve been in an accident, it’s important that you consult with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys has been helping clients in Michigan for over three decades.
Since our founding, we’ve assisted in over 2,000 cases and have helped clients recover millions of dollars in damages. Our team has also achieved the coveted AV Peer Rating from Martindale-Hubbell® for our legal ability and ethical standards, as well as recognition from the U.S. News, the Detroit Premier Business Journal, and America’s Top 100 Attorneys.
No matter how complicated your case may be, we’re here to help you move forward. Fill out our online form today to schedule a free case review with one of our auto accident attorneys.
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