5 Causes of Michigan Car Accidents

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According to the 2017 Michigan Traffic Crash Reports, there were 314,921 reported crashes of which 937 were fatal, 57,263 were personal injury, and 256,721 were property damage only crashes. 

Now, since a year has 365 days, that tells us that there was more than one crash on each of those days. That is a lot of car accidents – some of which can be faulted by bad weather or poor road maintenance and, still others, where the fault lies on either driver. 

So, what exactly are the causes of car accidents? Well, while the list is quite extensive, here are 5 to take a look at. 

1. Reckless Driving

Everybody is in a hurry nowadays and this leads to impatience, especially on the road. People go well over the speed limit, change lanes without their blinkers (and quickly), and even tailgate other drivers who are going slower than they would like them to go. Unfortunately, this type of “reckless behavior” leads to car accidents on the road. 

Obviously, it is difficult to be patient especially when we are late to work or for a meeting but taking precautions on the road is the safer option so everyone can avoid a collusion. 

2. Bad Weather

Sometimes, the fault doesn’t fall entirely onto the driver – bad weather happens. Heavy rain storms, hail, and ice/snow can all cause roads to become slippery and unsafe. When driving in these conditions, it’s always best to practice safe driving and, should visibility become low or the roads become too unsafe to drive, that drivers pull off to the side of the road and wait for the bad weather to pass. 

It can happen in a second where your car can slip and slide on the road causing a major car accident (possibly involving multiple cars) to occur. 

3. Drunk Driving

This is an obvious one. While some people would like to believe that they are ok to drive after just “a couple of drinks” or even just one drink, drunk driving can lead to car accidents – even ones that result in serious injury or death to either or both drivers. Simply put – if you drink, don’t drive. 

The next time you go out with friends, have one of them be the designated driver or, if that isn’t possible, arrange for other transportation home like a taxi or an Uber. It’s better to be safe and sober than drunk and sorry. Just saying. 

4. Distracted Driving

Many states, like Michigan & Florida, have recently passed laws where texting and driving are “traffic ticket” worthy. Driving while distracted – whether that is talking on the phone, texting, changing music, eating, or any other distracting behavior – can lead to car accidents. All it takes is for your eyes to leave the road for one second for an accident to occur. 

That text or call can wait. 

5. Tailgating

Tailgating is when a person is driving too close to the driver in front of them. It is an aggressive driving behavior to “motivate” slow drivers to speed up so the driver behind them can pass, however, this can lead to a car accident. Why? Because the person in front can stop suddenly which will cause the car behind them to ram into the rear of their car. 

So, if the car in front of you is too slow, either change lanes or be patient. It isn’t worth totaling your car or putting your life in jeopardy. 

Finding an Experienced Detroit Car Accident Lawyer

Car accidents can occur for a number of reasons, like drunk driving, tailgating, or even distracted driving, and there are still many more causes. If you have been involved in a car accident, we strongly advise contacting one of our experienced lawyers. We have extensive knowledge of the Michigan traffic courts and have helped many other clients with their personal injury suits. Don’t try to tackle your case alone. Let us help. Call us today at (313) 965-5555.

 

What is The Average Timeline for an Auto Accident Claim in Michigan?

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Car crashes a.k.a auto accidents can result in personal injury claims which can be settled either in and out of court. Oftentimes, many claims can be settled between both parties even before a lawsuit is filed. However, each case is unique so how the claim proceeds depends on the specifics of the case.

With that said, below is an average timeline anyone can expect to see when dealing with an auto accident claim in the state of Michigan as well as the statute of limitations for personal injury claims.

Statute of Limitations

In Michigan, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is 3 years from the date of the accident. An individual has until this period to file a claim in court and the clock typically starts from the date of the injury or accident. Once this period has lapsed, you will lose your ability to claim the injury in court and to ask the court to award damages for your injury. There are only a few exceptions to this rule which grants an additional year to file a claim.

First Step: Accident

The first notch in the timeline consists of the accident – in this case – a car accident. Two individuals are involved in an accident and now either one or both of them have suffered injuries. They will both likely seek medical attention for their injuries and one or both of them might need to have surgery or therapy to recover from their injuries. They will also likely get their insurance companies involved and local law enforcement will put in a report of the accident.

Second Step: Consultation

More than likely, one or both individuals will seek an auto accident attorney in order to recover damages as a result of the accident. They will likely be placing blame on the other for the accident and will seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and vehicle damages. At this point, one or both individuals will secure a personal injury lawyer. If for any reason, a settlement can not be made beforehand, a lawsuit will likely be filed as a next step in this process.

Third Step: Settlement

During the settlement phase, the insurance company of the party in question will be contacted and a request for a settlement for their client’s damages will be made. This can be done informally or formally through letters. If the settlement request is successful, then a settlement agreement will be drafted and signed by both parties including the lawyers and insurance companies. If the settlement phase is unsuccessful, then a lawsuit will likely be filed and the case would then proceed to civil court.

Fourth Step: Civil Court

Papers will be filed by both parties through the courts and the court process will proceed while settlement negotiations will still try to be made. If needed, dispute resolutions like mediation will be used to come to an agreement. While most auto accident lawsuits will eventually be resolved with a settlement, sometimes, a civil trial might be necessary which would result in the normal trial process where the jury would decide if the alleged party is liable and if damages should be awarded.

Final Thoughts

Being involved in a car accident, and having injuries as a result no less, can be stressful, painful, and frustrating. In this situation, one would want to seek damages from the other party for their pain and suffering. At Marko Law, we’ve handled many personal injury and car crash claims and are quite knowledgeable of the process with the Michigan court system. You can be assured that we will do everything possible to ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your case and receive the compensation you deserve.

 

How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Case in Michigan?

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Without stating the obvious, there are probably a number of things going through your mind while you are in excruciating pain from your recent injury –– like if you are going to have to miss work, how are you going to pay your bills, who is going to take care of your kids, and how will you pay for your medical expenses.

This is all completely understandable and, especially if the injury was caused by the negligence of another, you are likely wondering if you have a personal injury case that you can bring to the attention of a qualified attorney, right?

If you are nodding your head in silent acknowledgement, we get it and we are more than capable of giving you a little insight into whether you could have a Michigan personal injury claim to bring to the table.

Let’s take a look.

Statute of Limitations

Just like you, the person(s) involved in your case have rights so it is up to you to build a case that will prove that they are responsible and liable for your injury(s). So, one factor that will come into play is statute of limitations.

In Michigan (and most other states), you will have a time period in which you can file a personal injury claim which is three years. If you don’t file a claim before this period ends, then a court is likely to deny it. The three years starts from the date of your injury but, if your injury occurred some time after the incident, then the discovery date could be used to start the three year period instead.

Proving Negligence in Michigan

In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff’s attorney has the responsibility of proving negligence on the defendant’s part that lead to their client’s injury. There are many ways in which a Michigan court can determine negligence which includes the “reasonably prudent person” principle and these four elements of negligence.

The “reasonably prudent person” principle attempts to establish negligence by comparing the actions of a law-abiding, responsible citizen with those of the defendant. If it can be established that the defendant’s actions do not reflect those of a typical law-abiding citizen, should they have been in the same situation, then the defendant would be found negligible in the eyes of the court.

For the four elements of negligence, these are:

  1. Duty – Did the defendant have a duty to prevent the accident?
  2. Causation – Were the injurer’s actions responsible for your injuries?
  3. Breach of duty – Did their actions result in a breach of duty?
  4. Damages – Does your injuries qualify as damages that they would be liable to pay?

 

Seeking a Michigan Personal Injury Lawyer for My Claim

While this certainly isn’t a thorough insight into whether you have a personal injury case, it can be a great way to screen whether you should approach a personal injury lawyer or not. However, if you are not sure or feel that you have extenuating circumstances that qualify you to file a personal injury lawsuit, then we are here to help.

At Marko Law, we have extensive knowledge and years of experience navigating the Michigan court system and have handled many personal injury claims. You can be confident that we can not only help you with your case but also seek to get the highest settlement that we possibly can to cover the expenses and damages left behind by your pain and suffering. Give us a call today at 313-965-5555 for your free consultation.

 

Don’t Be A Bully! New Michigan Law Makes Cyberbullying Illegal

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Prior to leaving the office in December 2018, former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder passed into law a new measure, known as House Bill 5017, that will make cyberbullying illegal starting in March of this year.  

According to Public Act 457, cyberbullying includes “posting a message or statement in a public media forum about any other person if…the message or statement is intended to place a person in fear of bodily harm or death and expresses an intent to commit violence against the person…The message or statement is posted with the intent to communicate a threat or with knowledge that it will be viewed as a threat.”

Those who violate this law can experience fines up to $10,000 and jail time of up to 10 years depending on the severity of the bullying.

According to Bullying Statistics:

  1. Over half of teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying.
  2. Girls are more likely to be cyberbullied than boys.
  3. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to experience low self-esteem and commit suicide.
  4. Over half of teens don’t tell their parents about cyberbullying.

Preventing Cyberbullying

As parents (and good friends), there are ways that we can prevent our children (and ourselves) from becoming victims of cyberbullying. How? By following some of these guidelines like:

  • Make sure that you talk to your children about cyberbullying and explain to them the impact it can have on others and the consequences of engaging in cyberbullying. Tell them what behavior is and isn’t allowed and expectations that you have.
  • Encourage them to open up if they have been victimized by a cyberbully and that they will not be punished and that it is not ok.
  • Teach them not to share information, messages, pictures, or videos on social media, to friends, strangers, etc. that they would otherwise not want to have go public and not to trust anyone other than their parents with sensitive information like passwords, phone numbers, or email addresses.  

What To Do If You Are A Victim of Cyberbullying

Not all crime victims experience physical trauma. Some, like in personal injury cases (i.e., cyberbullying), victims can experience psychological trauma as well. Aside from contacting a lawyer, here is what you should do if you or your loved one is a victim of a cyberbully.

You should keep any and all messages that were exchanged between you and the cyberbully(s) to use as proof that the cyberbullying occurred. This can usually be done via screenshots from your phone or computer. These can be given to police and to your lawyer to help with your case especially if they are violent or sexual in nature.

If you or a loved one are a victim of cyberbullying, you need to wait no longer and contact a personal injury attorney who has experience with these kinds of cases. You need a lawyer who will fight for your rights and who will not be intimidated by your harassers or the Michigan court system. At Marko Law, we understand our clients and do our best to achieve the best possible results for our clients’ cases. Give us a call today and schedule your free consultation.  

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN FIDO IS A BAD DOG

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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.

 

GET INSURANCE!

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.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU’RE BIT BY AN ANIMAL?

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.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR DOG ATTACKS SOMEONE ELSE?

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.

YOU JUST GOT INTO A CAR ACCIDENT… NOW WHAT?

Thanks for tuning into my new blog.  My goal is to provide you with short and helpful weekly articles on common legal issues facing many Americans.  The first few articles are going to be on auto accidents.  Last year in Michigan alone there were 289,061 car accidents.  And these were just the ones reported.  At least 951 people died in these wrecks, and countless others were permanently injured.  Think about these numbers for just one year in Michigan.  It’s startling.

No one wants to get into a car accident.  But we all know someone who has been involved in one (perhaps you yourself).  Many accidents are minor and the only thing you need fixed is your front bumper.  Other wrecks can ruin someone’s life.  You should always hope for the best but prepare for the worst after an auto accident.

I have represented hundreds of persons hurt in auto accidents over the years.  I often get calls from clients asking me “Jon I just got into a car accident what do I do?  Do I have coverage?  I only have PLPD, is there anything I can do? It was my fault, does that matter?”

Every situation is different.  But here are the general rules of what you should do if you get into an accident.

  1. Make sure you are safe-  Above anything else, when you are in an accident get to safety as soon as possible.  Pull over to the side of the road or a parking lot.  Leave your vehicle and get to safety if it is not drivable.  Make sure you are not in a position where you can get hit again.  I have seen many accidents where people have been hurt after the initial accident.
  2. Dial 911- Once you are safe, call 911 immediately and report the accident.  Even if the accident was minor, or you don’t believe anyone is injured, you should call 911.  The police will come and investigate the accident and try to determine who’s at fault.  They will make a report that is very important for dealing with your insurance company later on down the road.  Even if you are at fault for the accident, you need to call police for a report because you may still be entitled to insurance benefits and they need to investigate.
  3. Get Medical Attention- Even if you don’t believe you are injured, you need to get medical attention right away.  Sometimes this will be by ambulance.  Other times this can be you going to the hospital with a friend or family member, or following up with your doctor immediately.  But the important part is to get evaluated right away.  Many times injuries don’t present themselves right away.  I represented a gentlemen who was run over by a pickup truck and didn’t go to the hospital until 24 hours later because he had so much adrenaline in his body he thought he was fine.  When he was evaluated later, it turned out he had fractured the vertebrae in his back.   He is now disabled.  The insurance company will pounce on any delay in treatment to blame you for your injuries or to claim they were caused by something other than the wreck. Be sure to report to your doctors every single little problem or pain so it can be checked.
  4. Document Everything-  Document everything from day 1.  This includes statements made by the other drivers or witnesses at the scene, medical persons, what happened at the scene, what parts of your body hurt, if you lost consciousness or blacked out, and anything else that could be helpful later.  It’s hard to remember all of these details later on, especially with everything going on due to the wreck.  You are going to have so much on your mind.  Do yourself a favor and write everything down.  Save all receipts, medical bills, and any other expenses stemming from the wreck.  Take photos.  The more the better.
  5. Call A Lawyer- Once you are safe and have sought initial medical treatment, it is essential you call an attorney immediately.  Don’t wait.  Even if you think you won’t need an attorney.  Many attorneys (including myself) will give you a 100% free initial consultation.  If you don’t need my help,  I will tell you from day one, and you won’t have to pay a dime.  Auto law in Michigan is confusing and slanted towards the insurance companies.  Without an attorney, you are at the mercy of the insurance companies. A lawyer can advise you if you have a case and what you need to do to make sure your medical bills and other expenses will be taken care of.  A good attorney will also make sure that you are getting all the medical treatment you need. And finally, an attorney will allow you to rest easy knowing that your claims are being handled.
  6. Don’t Make Any Statements To Anyone Other Than the Police and Your Own Doctors.  Do not make any statements to the Insurance Companies-  Whatever you do, don’t make any statements to any insurance companies.  Not your own insurance company, and not the other driver’s insurance company.  All too often the insurance company will use things you say against you later.  Keep in mind that the goal of many auto insurance companies is to minimize risk for insurance company. In other words, to figure out a way to deny your claim or to pay you the least amount of benefits possible.

Next week, I will dispel the mystery and confusion about Michigan’s “No-Fault” insurance scheme.  Most people have heard of no-fault, but have no idea what it means  (I didn’t either until I went to law school). We will talk about just what that insurance coverage you are paying so much money for every year actually means for you.

Thanks for reading.   I hope you all have a wonderful  and safe holiday weekend. Vote below on my next topic after car accidents!