Injured and in need of Insurance Compensation? Don’t do it alone

Injured and in need of Insurance Compensation?

Injuries, wrecks, accidents or disasters, life is unpredictable and eventually you may need to face an insurance company to recover funds for damages inflicted by the negligence of another. In a best case scenario, you get the money you deserve with no problems and the issue is solved. This almost never happens. There will always be a risk of being cheated by insurance companies, and being denied the coverage owed. Without the proper legal representation, there will be no way to know when an insurance company has shortchanged you, or have any recourse in the event that this does. The chances of being cheated by an insurance company only grow worse the more time that goes by since your incident.

There are many ways that an insurance can cheat you. There is a time limit for insurance claims, as well as a need for recorded evidence for support. Without any evidence, such as police reports or documented records, a claim can be more easily dismissed. The longer you wait to get a case together, the harder it will be to gather the materials needed to create a strong case. A legal professional can iron out all the kinks in a claim that insurance companies will pounce on in order to deny coverage.

Legal representation is an important part of making sure any insurance case goes through the right channels and lacks any sort of weakness that can be exploited. Without any sort of legal background, there is plenty of room to make errors—errors that can severely weaken any claims. A typo in the documents, a single wrong impression, or even a forgotten date, could lead to benefits being denied. Hiring a legal professional lowers the risk, and strengthens your chances of receiving benefits.

Insurance Compensation

A good attorney studies the law thoroughly and is familiar with the requirements that insurance companies must meet—-which will improve your chances of seeing a favorable outcome in your case. A lawyer’s job is to make sure that your insurance claim is crafted well and presented professionally. A lawyer also makes sure that all angles are covered, and dates set, making sure to avoid the mistakes that could weaken your case. A licensed attorney also knows what aspects of a case need to be taken care of for a successful claim, such as making sure a police report was filed or that an accident was properly documented. By waiting on the insurance company or on getting legal representation you only harm your own case and jeopardize the coverage you are owed.

Insurance agencies are infamous for lulling victims into complacency. Make sure you hire an attorney at once to maximize the potential for a result in your case that is commensurate with the pain and suffering undergone.

Call me at 313-965-5555 so I can help you take on the insurance companies or email at

Can you be fired for being overweight?


Can you be fired for being overweight?

Being overweight, obese, curvy, or whatever nomenclature you choose to describe it, can be difficult. Research has shown that carrying excess weight can harm your body physically, as well as emotionally. And anyone who has ever been deemed “too big” according to society’s standards, likely knows what it feels like to be called names or be made fun of simply because of their size.

But what about when the name calling no longer comes from school age kids, but coworkers? Worse than that, what are you supposed to do when the disparaging comments, offhanded remarks, and sideways glances come from your boss? What recourse do you have when you are being bullied at work?

Weight and size discrimination is not only wrong, but against the law. In fact, Michigan is the only state in which weight discrimination has been deemed illegal, thanks to the 1977 passing of the Elliot- Larsen Civil Rights Act. This law prohibits discrimination based on weight or height, including being short or thin.

The law equally protects individuals no matter how they became obese or thin, or whether or not their size is due to a medical condition. This community is often seen as lazy and unmotivated, which are false assumptions that can only prove hurtful. These false beliefs damage professional development, employee satisfaction, career growth, and performance.

The toll that weight discrimination takes may not only include outright insults, but stolen opportunities to advance in a company, get a promotion, or simply get ahead. Assuming what an employee can or cannot do based on their size, can be professionally devastating. Psychologically, the harm caused by devaluing an employee because of their size or for any reason for that matter, can be difficult if not downright impossible from which to ever fully recover. Employers are obligated to treat their workers fairly and equitably based on their skills, performance, and the job they were hired to do.

The law is on your side. Your place of work does not have the legal wherewithal to fat shame, encourage you to “lose a few pounds,” pay you less because of your size, or stigmatize you for being large or small, short or tall. Whether or not you choose to address your weight, no matter why you carry it, is absolutely and unequivocally up to you and no one else. Whom you choose to include in a discussion about your health, is again entirely up to you.

You should not have to suffer, and certainly not do so alone. We know your rights and want you to know them, too. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your weight, height, or some other reason, call us at Ernst & Marko Law for a free consultation.

Rae Sremmurd Sued For Chucking a Water Bottle at Fan During Concert

When you go to a concert, you expect to get a live performance from your favorite artist that you will never forget. Unfortunately, for one fan, all he received after attending a Rae Sremmurd concert, was permanent scarring. Geoffrey Gleason has filed a lawsuit against the “Black Beatles” duo for throwing a water bottle at his head during a concert and disfiguring him.

Bringing a case involving high profile persons or celebrities requires an attorney who has the courage and resources to aggressively pursue your case.   Contrary to popular belief, these cases are not easy and are often more difficult than pursuing a claim against the average joe, because celebrities have endless resources to hire the highest priced defense attorneys to fight any claim, even when they are in the wrong.

I’ve handled several cases against high profile persons including the Insane Clown Posse, a professional NFL football player, and high profile individuals.  If you’ve been wronged, submit a free online case evaluation at or contact my firm for a free consultation at 313-965-5555.

See Fox 2 Video and News Coverage Here:

Police Brutality Jury Verdict in Favor of our Client for Nearly $37 million

A jury has awarded nearly $37 million to our client who was arrested for drunk driving and taken to the Genesee County jail where he was pepper-sprayed, hit with a stun gun and restrained face-down with a hood over his face.

The verdict in favor of William Jennings was returned in Detroit federal court where five former or current county officers were sued, accusing them of excessive force after an arrest in 2010.

More than half of the multimillion-dollar verdict came in the form of punitive damages.

Attorneys for the officers said Jennings’ treatment wasn’t unconstitutional. They said he wasn’t compliant and had resisted efforts to contain him.






Frustrated Former Employees Ask: Where’s My Money?

Nobody likes talking about that horrible job that they could no longer handle or maybe they were even fired. You know that one job that made you go down memory lane to see which wrong decision led you to that point? The one you showed up for one morning and before the clock rang noon, you rushed out the door and never came back. Yeah, that job. Been there.

But did you ever receive that final paycheck? No? That is why today we will be discussing a state law that governs Michigan employers, the Wage & Fringe Benefits Act, and what you can do if that ever happens to you.


Are you entitled to your final paycheck?

Under Michigan’s Wage & Fringe Benefits Act, you are still entitled to your back wages and earned commissions when you leave an employer. Whether you were fired or quit–it doesn’t matter. Employers are required to pay you. That is one of the primary purposes of the Act. Seems rather straightforward right? You work. They pay.

As a general rule, an employer must pay you for all of your hard work “as soon as that amount can be reasonably determined.” This often means that you should receive your final paycheck by your next regularly scheduled pay period.


Do you get your Commissions? When?

But what if you’re in sales? Well, Michigan has a separate law known as the Sales Representative Commission Act that provides for when commissions are due.

All of your sale commissions are due within 45 days after you left your job. If you are entitled to commissions after you are gone, then the employer has 45 days after the commissions were due.


What if you’re a hand harvester or work under a contract?

Hand harvester: Similarly, you should receive your final paycheck as soon as the amount can be reasonably determined. However, there may be difference in the time you receive your final paycheck, depending on whether you quit or were terminated. In most cases,

  • Quit: No later than 3 days after you quit your job
  • Termination: Within one working day from the date of your termination


Under contract: If you were terminated or quit your job while still under a contract, you may be entitled to an estimated paycheck for final wages from your former employer. But if the amount of wages cannot be estimated, you should still receive a final paycheck once the contract has ended.


How do you get your money back?

When an employer intentionally fails to pay you, things can get pretty ugly. If you were never paid from that last boss of yours, you may be entitled to more than just your back wages. You can file a free complaint with the Wage & Hour Program of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.


Here’s the website:,4601,7-154-11407_32352-39617–,00.html


Employment law can be very complicated. If you have a back wage issue, an attorney can help you file a complaint for your money as soon as possible. The attorneys at Ernst & Marko Law have helped many former employees get their money back that has been long overdue.  Often times, attorneys can get you additional compensation, such as attorney fees, penalties, and costs.

Working More than 40 Hours A Week? You May Be Entitled to Overtime

You may have heard in the news recently that The Labor Department just announced that it completed one of the most ambitious economic reforms of the Obama era, finalizing a new rule that will extend overtime protections to millions of additional workers.  President Obama just announced big changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act that will increase the number of eligible overtime workers by more than 4 millions.  Overtime rules are changing and millions of Americans will begin qualifying for overtime.

So here’s the skinny:  Currently, if you make less than $23,600 per year then you must receive overtime for every hour you work over 40 hours. When the law changes on December 1st, all employees that make less than $47,476 per year will be entitled to overtime pay as well. This means that no matter what job you have, if you make less than $47,476 per year, the law requires your employer to pay you at least 1.5 times your current pay for every hour in a week over 40 that you work.

Be vigilant of your pay starting December 1st, 2016, because your employer will either need to raise your salary to at least $47,476 or he will need to start paying overtime. If you are reading this and already make less than $23,600 per year but are not receiving time and a half for your overtime hours then you might be entitled to unearned wages. If you are concerned about how the changes to the law might apply to you or whether your employer is going to follow the changes to the law then you need to speak with a professional in the area of employment law.

Check out Obama’s information on this topic here:

If you feel that your employer is violating the law and your rights then you need to contact Ernst & Marko Law at (313) 965 – 5555. The attorneys at Ernst & Marko Law have helped employees from various industries to earn the money they’re owed and will work for you to make sure you get every penny you deserve.




Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to everyone out there. I sincerely hope that you and yours had a good 2014 and that 2015 will be even better. With many of us home for the holidays, there is a lot of parties, guests over, and people we haven’t seen in a long time around. For those of us with animals in the house, these events can lead to unexpected incidents. Today we will be discussing what happens if you are bitten by a dog, or if you have a dog and it bites someone else.

Dog bite cases are some of the easiest cases for a lawyer to try. Why? Because under the law you don’t have to prove that anybody did anything wrong. In almost every other type of case that lawyers handle you have to prove that someone did something wrong. Not in a dog bite case. Michigan has what lawyers call “strict liability”. Strict liability means that under almost any circumstances, if your dog bites someone you are responsible for the injuries, regardless of who is at fault.

It didn’t use to be this way. Back in the day, to win in a dog bite case (or other animal case) you had to show that the dog owner did something wrong. Normally, this meant that you had to show that the dog owner knew that his or her dog had vicious tendencies, or was likely to attack, and owner didn’t stop it. This was a pretty hard standard to prove. You usually had to show that the dog had been vicious in the past or that it had bitten someone else.

This changed when the Michigan legislature passed a law that specifically governs dog bite cases. Under the law, an owner is always responsible for the damage that a dog does except in two main circumstances. The first exception is if the dog was provoked. This would mean that someone was taunting the dog, poking it with a stick, or something like that. The second exception is that the dog bit someone who was trespassing. An examples is if a person jumped over your fence to grab a ball that had fallen on your side of the fence and the dog bit them.  In such a situation, the dog owner is generally not responsible.

We’ve seen several pretty horrible dog bite cases over the years. For example in one case, a young girl was mauled in the face by her grandmother’s dog which literally tore the braces out of her mouth and left her permanent scarred and disfigured. I litigated that case on the girl’s behalf and obtained a substantial recovery.



In my experience, homeowners’ insurance always covers dog bite cases. If you own a home and have an animal and don’t have insurance, it could be a serious problem if the animal bites someone. A good friend of mine consulted with me on a case where his parents ran a hotel up north. His parents had a dog who was getting older and had been getting a little more testy. One day, the dog bit a guest and my friend’s parents were sued. His parents didn’t have any insurance so they ended up having to pay $75,000.00 out‑of-pocket to settle the case. You definitely don’t want this to happen to you.

Even if you don’t own a home, and you have a pet, you should carry some kind of renters’ insurance that will cover you in case something happens. Most of us would say “hey, not my dog, it would never bite somebody”. But animals can act unpredictably. I have another good friend who had a wonderful and very gentle dog. I knew this dog my whole life and it had never hurt a soul. The dog developed a brain tumor, which unbeknownst to its owners, grew in the dog’s brain. The brain tumor caused the dog to lash out one day and maul someone.



If you’re bitten by an animal the first thing is to get medical attention and make sure that you are safe. The second thing to do is contact a lawyer. In most circumstances, you are entitled under the law automatically to certain benefits.  The medical bills, loss of work, and other damages can add up.

My own brother was mauled by a dog when we were younger and had a large portion of his nose bitten off.  It required operations and a large amount of medical bills. The dog was owned by a family friend, so my brother never did anything about it. I didn’t know anything about dog bites back then. Had that happened today, I would tell him the first thing he needs to do is contact an attorney, because his friend’s homeowners’ insurance would have covered all of his medical bills and other issues. His friend’s family probably wouldn’t have had to pay a penny. That’s what they have insurance for, to cover these unforeseen and unfortunate occurrences.

Be sure to take pictures of the injury and keep all documentation. You may need this later. Also, don’t make any statements to the insurance company before talking to your lawyer.


If you’re in the unfortunate situation where your dog or animal attacks someone else, make sure that they get medical attention immediately and are in a safe environment away from the animal. After that person is safe you should immediately contact your insurance company and file a report letting them know what happened and the circumstances surrounding it. Your own insurance company will take over from there and handle the claim on your behalf. If a lawsuit is filed against you, your insurance company will give you an attorney and will work to resolve the claim on your behalf.

Dog bite cases are pretty routine and they happen more than one might think. If you or someone that you know has been injured by a dog or other animal, feel free to contact me for a free consultation.


Ferguson…. Garner… What the heck is going on in America?  Police violence has been plastered all over our televisions lately in a way we haven’t seen since Rodney King.  This week’s blog post is about police brutality and what you need to know.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” a well-known quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, refers to the benefits of openness and transparency and the quote is as relevant today as it was when Brandeis said it in 1913.

I wish I could say that that cop-on-civilian violence is a relatively new phenomenon.  It’s not.  It’s been going on ever since we have had government.  It just used to be different.  We never saw it on the news, on facebook, on social media, blasting from every twitter and facebook like we do now.  The reasons behind this could be the subject of a 700 page doctorate psychology paper, but the main reason we are hearing about it so much lately is the prevalence of video technology everywhere.  Virtually everyone has a video camera in their pocket at all times in the form of a cell phone.  Cops are now required to have cameras in their cars turned on.  Jail cells now have video.  There are security cameras in most of our major cities at intersections.  Even the party store on the corner of your street probably has a surveillance system.

Hundreds of years ago when the nightwatch of the King’s castle beat some poor peasant in a dark alley, there was no one to tell-the-tale.  No video.  No instant upload to facebook.  No twitter feed.  No pictures.  This dynamic has remained relatively true until very recently.

This Would Never Happen In America

Before I spent the majority of my waking hour representing people who have been in horrible life-changing incidents, I echoed this sentiment.  My very first case involved an African-American man named DaJuan living in one of the very worst neighborhoods in Detroit. He called our office claiming he was savagely beaten with batons by no less than four Detroit Police officers for no real reason at the MGM casino in Detroit. DaJuan didn’t have a car or the money to get to our law office, so I had to drive down into the worst part of Detroit to see him at his house.

As I sat on his couch in a bombed out neighborhood on Detroit’s westside, DaJuan told me an incredible story.  His Uncle had just died an early and violent death.  After the service, some close family went to the MGM Grand casino, where they had rented a room for the night.  DaJuan claimed that as he wait in the lobby of the casino, he was approached by four fully armed Detroit police officers who began to interrogate him.  DaJuan, just having lost his uncle, mouthed off a little, told them to leave him alone, and then turned his back and began to slowly walk away.  DaJuan claims at that point an officer jumped on his back and put him in a choke hold and three other officers began to savagely beat him with billy clubs as he lay on the ground, breaking several ribs and giving him permanent neck and lung problems.

I didn’t believe him.  Why would the police do that?  I was sure that either (1) he was lying all together; or (2) he did something to precipitate the encounter and was resisting a legitimate arrest.  Police don’t just beat people.  I told DaJuan i would look into it, but if he was lying to me I wasn’t going to help him.

The next day i contacted the MGM Grand and eventually convinced them to let me see the video.  I went downtown and sat with MGM’s attorney as they showed me the video.  I could not believe my eyes.  Everything DaJuan said was true.  It literally made me sick.

It’s scary to think that this kind of thing can go on in America.  And to make matters worse, no one believed DaJuan.  He had been telling people his stories for months and no one would listen.  He sat in jail for days.  He suffered broken bones.  He has life long injures.  And even his own attorney didn’t believe what he had to say.  If there had not been a video no one would have taken his case.  DaJuan changed my life and set me on the path to being a civil rights lawyer.

DaJuan would have no voice without a lawsuit.  He would have no justice.  And we would not know the truth.


Under federal law, every American can bring a lawsuit against the police or any governmental actor who violates his or her constitutional rights.  So what are protected rights?

  • Excessive Force Or Assaults

You have a right to be free from excessive force or bodily harm from the government.  Even prisoners in a jail have a right to be free from assaults by guards.  Sometime this is easy and you “know it when you see it”: brutal beatings; shooting an unarmed man who posed no threat; smashing someone’s head into the ground.  Other times this is a closer call such as tazing someone or using pepper spray, or even tightening someone’s cuffs to the point of nerve damage.

  • Unlawful Seizure 

You have a right to be free from unlawful seizure.  You are “seized” when you no longer have the right to leave.  You do not have to be put under arrest to be seized.  In the case of DaJuan, he was seized when the officers did not allow him to walk away.  Unlawful seizure also can include being falsely arrested and/or kept in jail for a period of time.

  • Illegal Search

You have a right not to have your body, your house, your car, etc., searched and rummaged through for no valid reason.  This right is often implicated in the context of illegal police entry in homes or business, but can also be of other private property.

  • Freedom Of Speech

You have a right to free speech and to express your ideas and viewpoints, even if other people don’t like your speech or your speech is in bad taste.  An infamous example of this is the Westboro Baptist Church protesting military funerals and delivering hate speech to homosexuals.

  • Medical Attention 

If you are in prison or jail, you have a right to have your obvious medical needs cared for.  An example of this is a person suffering from a gunshot wound who is thrown in a jail cell and dies.

  • Equal Protection

Everyone has a right to equal protection under the law.  An example of a violation of this would be a traffic checkpoint that only stopped African-Americans.


These are just a few broad examples the areas of constitutional rights I am most commonly asked about.  Civil rights law is one of the most complicated and difficult areas of the law.  Most attorneys will not practice it.  How to handle a civil rights lawsuit is not taught in law school. Civil rights cases are costly, time consuming, and very nuanced.  Even if your rights were violated, the police or government have many defenses available.  They hire the best lawyers and it is very intimidating going up against the police.  You should contact an attorney as soon as you can after a possible violation of your rights in order to evaluate your claim.

I have been very successful in helping persons whose civil rights have been violated.  Earlier this year, we represented a man who was arrested and beaten in a jail cell for refusing to answer police questions.  There was no video of the beating and the police denied liability.  Jim and I were able to secure nearly a $370,000 settlement after a several year court battle.

Last year, we represented a man who was tazed by the police while standing at the front window of his house.  The man refused to open the door for police so an officer shot him from a distance of 5 feet.  The tazer was shot as such a close range that the impact caused the homeowner to fall backwards and down a flight of stairs, dislocating his shoulder. Under controlled cross-examination, the officer nonchalantlytestified  under oath that he made our client “ride the lightning”.  After a protracted court battle, we won victory for the client.

Next year, we will be going to trial in a case where an off duty police officer, who had just been partying at a Red Wings game and local bars, pistol whipped our client with his .357 magnum in a parking lot.  The local police responded and then allowed the off-duty police officer to leave.  The officer is still patrolling the streets as we speak.  And guess what?  This officer was the very same one who tazed the homeowner in the story above.  The officer was actually promoted after that incident.  He knows us pretty well by now since we have been suing him for years.

I believe that most police officers are genuinely good people trying to keep our communities safe.  But these things DO happen. Our access to the court system for these violations is a way to keep us safe and keep the good cops out there on the streets.   Civil rights cases are absolutely necessary to expose the truth.  It’s not about the money.  It’s about taking a stand and sending a message.

If you want further information on this topic feel free to contact me.



For today’s blog post I’m switching gears from auto accidents, and addressing a topic that will effect all of us in one way or another at some point in our lives: employment.  I receive countless calls and questions from people about their jobs.  Many times these calls involve someone (1) being fired from their job; or (2) being harassed at work and having to work in a miserable environment.  Today I am going to tell you what you can do if this happens to you.

First off, Michigan is an “at will” State.  That means someone can ordinarily fire you for whatever they want.  You remind them of their ex wife?  Fire away.  They don’t like your long hair?  Fired (luckily this hasn’t happened to me).  Personality conflicts?  Too bad.   But what about this “right-to-work” law we all have heard about?  Sorry.  Right-to-work was a dressed up name for a law that was passed to bust the unions in Michigan.  It has nothing to do with you keeping your job.  You generally never have a “right to work”, unless your employer promises you that in your contract.

However, there are exceptions.  You can’t fire or harass someone if they belong to a “protected class”.  This is legal jargon.  We all belong to protected classes, no matter who we are.  But in English this means you can’t discriminate against someone as stated below:

What are the protected classes in Michigan?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin (e.g., Indian, Pakistani, Israeli)
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • Disability (including refusing to accommodate your disability)
  • Age
  • Citizenship status
  • Genetic information
  • Taking time off work under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

In addition, Michigan state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Disability
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • Disability: physical or mental
  • Age
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Height or weight
  • Firing someone for refusing to break the law or do unethical things (public policy exception).
  • Whistleblower – Report unethical / illegal activities to outside agency.

As I said above, we all belong to a protected class of some sort.  Take me for example, it would be illegal for an employer to discriminate against me because I’m: white, Catholic, or male.

So what constitutes discrimination?  There are two main types of employment discrimination: (1) Harassment; and (2) Disparate Treatment.  Let’s take a look at each one.


The legal term for this is “hostile work environment”.  It is illegal for your employer to subject you, or allow you to be in, a hostile work environment because of a protected characteristic.   An easy example is sexual harassment, but it can take many forms.  Let me give you some examples of real life cases my firm and I have handled involving harassment:

  • A young woman is constantly sexually harassed at work by coworkers. She has a dildo given to her after she breaks up with her boyfriend and is told that “she will probably need it.”  Co-workers make unwanted advances on her.  She is texted inside and outside of the office on a regular basis.  She complains to her boss, but he really doesn’t fix the problem.  She has to go to work every day in a sexually hostile work environment.  This is illegal because she is being harassed because of a protected class: sex.  In other words, if she was a man she would not be treated this way.
  • An African American man has a racist white supervisor.  The supervisor never outright calls the African American employee names or racial slurs. However, the supervisor treats the African American worker significantly worse than the white employees, gives him much more work and some of the worst jobs possible, and when the worker complains the supervisor brushes him off and says “you don’t know nothing about discrimination. This is illegal because it is harassment based on race.

Disparate Treatment

Disparate treatment is a lawyer way of saying something bad at your job happens to you because of a protected class.  Common examples are: you are fired; you are denied a promotion; you are demoted; you are denied other benefits such as raises.  There can be more.  Again, the reason the event happens must be based, at least in part, on a protected characteristic.  Examples are:

  • A highly qualified black candidate is passed over in a promotion to a lesser qualified white candidate;
  • A woman is given lower wages than her male counterparts;
  • A person is fired after revealing to their employer that they have a medical condition (e.g., epilepsy)

Employment law is convoluted and complicated.  You MUST contact an attorney as soon as the first signs of trouble appear so that he or she can advise you on how to handle the situation.  You don’t have to have smoking gun evidence.  Don’t keep telling yourself things will work out.  Don’t wait.  It can be too late. My clients who come and see prior to being fired are in much better shape than a client who comes to me only after the illegal employment actions have already taken place.  I have handled hundreds of employment cases, so if you or someone you know is facing an employment issue, do not hesitate to contact me.

What to Do if You are Critically Injured in a Car Accident? Can you Sue in Michigan?

Can you sue in Michigan for an auto accident even though its “No-Fault”?  The short answer is yes, if your injuries are serious enough.

In my previous two blog posts, I explained what to do if you are in an auto accident and how the Michigan auto no-fault system works.  Today, I’m going to explain when you can bring a lawsuit against the other driver in an accident.

As I explained last week, if you are injured in an auto accident your own insurance pays for your medical bills and some other benefits.  But what about everything else?  What about pain and suffering?  What if you can’t work for the rest of your life? That’s when you have to file a lawsuit against the other driver.

To file a lawsuit in an auto accident in Michigan, you have to be seriously injured.  So that fender bender where you have a sprained ankle usually doesn’t count.  You have to have a “serious impairment”.  The injury has to affect your ability to lead your normal life.  While there is no exhaustive list, things that can make a serious impairment could be:

  • Can’t return to work for some time;
  • Can’t do hobbies or recreational activities for some time;
  • Have serious unresolved medical issues;
  • Surgery or scarring;
  • Long lasting medical treatment.

There are many different factors to consider so you should see a lawyer to evaluate your claim.

Who’s Responsible?

To sue another driver, they have to be responsible (at least in part) for the accident.  Sometimes this is easy, such as where the other driver was drunk or ran a red light.  Other times, its trickier.  Don’t always rely on what the police officer who comes to the scene determines.  They weren’t there for the accident and are trying to reconstruct what happened based on witness statements.  I have had cases where the police came and one of the drivers was already in an ambulance so the officer could only speak with one driver to determine what happened.   A lawyer will help you determine if you have a good case and whether other parties are responsible.

Sometimes there is more than one responsible party.  I just had a case where my client was T-boned at an intersection and his seatbelt snapped right out of the doorframe, causing his head to go into the windshield.   He now has permanent brain damage. In that case, we brought a lawsuit against both the car manufacturer and the driver who T-boned my client. Be sure to save pictures, receipts, your car, and anything else to help prove your case.

What Damages Are You Entitled to Be Compensated For?

If you are seriously injured and have to sue another driver, you are entitled to most things that your own insurance did not cover.  This can include:

  • Money for Pain and Suffering, humiliation, mortification;
  • Money for lost wages due to being unable to work;
  • Loss of your relationships with your loved ones, including wife.

Some people think its unfair that we award people money for pain and suffering.  But in our system that is that only way to compensate someone who has been seriously injured.  These damages can be quite severe.  Imagine the man I described above whose head went into the windshield and he now can’t work or care for his family.  His relationships with his children are ruined and they will never have the father they once had because a company wanted to save 2 cents on a bolt and installed a defective seatbelt.

Lawsuits aren’t easy.  Contrary to popular believe, it’s not a lottery ticket.  It can take between 1 – 2 years for your lawsuit to run its course.  You have to prove your case and “frivolous” cases are thrown out by judges before they even get to trial.  If you or someone you know is injured, its important you get the help you need right away.  Don’t wait.  Call a trusted attorney.