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.

 

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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.

 

AUTO NO FAULT? WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?

One person died in this three-car crash. (KATU News photo)

In Michigan, when we talk about auto insurance and auto accidents we hear the same familiar phrases: “Michigan is a no fault state”, “first-party benefits”, “third-party case”. But while everyone seems to know that Michigan is a “no fault” state, do we really know what that means?

Prior to devoting my entire life and career to the law, I didn’t. So I’m guessing that many of you don’t either. In today’s blog post, I’m going to try to demystify and lay out just what “no fault” means for you. After all, in Michigan we all pay the highest auto insurance rates in America. We should know what we’re buying when we write that check to the insurance company every month.

Once upon a time, a long long time ago in Michigan, we didn’t have “no fault”. If you were in a serious car accident, even one so serious that you died or you were unable to work or you lost a limb and became disfigured or paralyzed, your only option was to sue the driver of the car that hit you. If you wanted to be compensated for your loss you had to go after the driver who was at fault for the accident. One of the big problems with this system was in almost every accident, there’s someone who’s at fault (the person who ran the red light or was drinking and driving) and there’s someone who’s not. So if you were at fault for the accident and you screwed up, which frankly happens a lot, your whole life could be ruined. The system led to a lot of lawsuits and litigation.

So a long time ago the insurance companies, the legislature, and all the attorneys got together and instituted in Michigan a revolutionary idea: no fault auto insurance. Under no fault, it doesn’t matter who’s at fault for the accident. It doesn’t matter if you were drinking and driving. It doesn’t matter if you ran the red light or were speeding. It doesn’t matter if both drivers are pointing the finger at the other driver blaming them for what happened. Under no fault, every person would purchase auto insurance that made sure that they would be protected and be given certain limited benefits if they were in an automobile accident and hurt. Think of it as Obamacare for auto accidents.

But nothing’s for free. So as part of this grand bargain, the attorneys and the legislature and everyone else agreed that since everyone was going to be covered regardless of fault, drivers had to give up certain rights to make claims that they were traditionally allowed. So let’s talk about just what no fault means for you.

As I stated, under no fault, if you are in an automobile accident you’re entitled to certain benefits regardless of who’s at fault for the accident. Even if you are the driver who is at fault, you are still entitled to benefits. And sometimes, even if you don’t have your own auto insurance you can get benefits (e.g., you’re a passenger). As long as your injuries came from the accident you are generally entitled to the following benefits:

 

  1. Medical Bills

You are entitled to all your medical bills incurred as a result of the accident, to be paid by your insurance company. Let me repeat that. Every single medical bill that you incur as a result of the accident your insurance company has to pay. You need physical therapy? No problem. Your insurance company has to pay for it. Do you need a nurse to come in and take care of you for a while? No problem. Do you have to have invasive back surgery that costs $50,000.00? No problem. As long as it was due to the accident, your insurance company is obligated to pay for it under no fault auto insurance.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you have your own healthcare insurance to be entitled to these benefits. I’ve represented pedestrians and even homeless people who have been hit by a car, who have no insurance and no way to get medical care, and they are entitled to have all their medical bills paid under the No Fault Act.

Perhaps even more important, your entitlement for medical benefits is for life. That means if you’re in an automobile accident today and let’s say you rupture a disc in your back. But you’re able to live with it for five years and it doesn’t get worse. But after five years that disc degenerates to the point where you need to have back surgery. It’s still covered. As long as you can trace the medical bill to the auto accident, the insurance company has to pay for it.

 

  1. Nursing Care

You’re also entitled to nursing care, under the No Fault Act. This is commonly referred to in legal parlance as “attendant care.” It doesn’t need to be performed by a nurse. But if you need help with traditional caretaker functions, such as bathing, taking you to the doctor, administering medications or caring for your wounds, or other caretaker functions, the insurance company is obligated to pay your caretaker an hourly rate. You can have an outside professional agency perform these duties and be reimbursed by your insurance company. Or, under the law you can actually have a family member perform these duties.

So let me give you another example. I represented a gentleman who was in a serious car accident which displaced the vertebrae in his back. This guy was in a lot of pain and he couldn’t work and could hardly perform his jobs. He needed someone to take care of him at least eight hours a day. This means he needed someone to help him get up and get back on the bed, remain in the general proximity to care for him, and to help him use the bathroom. He didn’t want a stranger coming into his house and doing all these invasive things. So he had his wife, who was not trained in nursing or had any medical experience, perform these services for him. His wife was entitled to be paid at an hourly rate for caretaker services by the insurance company under no fault insurance.

 

  1. Lost Wages

If you can’t work, you’re still entitled to a paycheck for your lost money due to not being able to work. The insurance company is obligated to pay you 85 percent of what you would have made had you not been in the automobile accident.

Let’s say that you make $1,000.00 a week at your job. You’re involved in an automobile accident and you have to take a month off of work to get better. You lose $4,000.00. Under no fault, your insurance company has to give you a check for 85 percent of the money that you lost ($3,400.00).

Things can get a little tricky if you own your own business or you have variable income such as bonuses, commissions, etc.. An attorney can assist you in ensuring that you get all the money that you’re entitled to under your insurance.

 

  1. Household Chores

A big thing for people that are injured in an automobile accident is that they can’t do some of the stuff around the house that they used to. Who’s going to mow the lawn? Who’s going to take out the trash? Who’s going to clean? A lot of these activities involve bending, twisting and being able to be physically active and to be able to do them.

Don’t worry. Under the No Fault Act, you’re entitled to $20.00 a day to pay for someone to come and do household chores that you can’t do because you’re hurt. Just like nursing services, this can be a family member or friend, it does not need to be a professional company.

 

  1. Mileage

You’re also entitled to mileage reimbursement for traveling to and from doctors’ appointments and other necessary appointments related to the accident. So if you have to travel 75 miles to go see your specialist, your insurance company will reimburse you for that mileage.

 

  1. Other Benefits

There are also other benefits you may be entitled to, such as modifying your home or car for your injury. Check with an attorney to see just what you are entitled to.

 

I’ve laid out the basic benefits of no fault above. So what are you giving up? All these benefits don’t come for free. The insurance company wouldn’t agree to that. As a result of no fault and the benefits that it gives, people who are in car accidents give up certain rights. Among them, is the ability to claim and collect for pain and suffering, and for certain other benefits. Some of the benefits that I have listed above, such as household cleaning and work loss, are limited and only last a certain amount of time.

As with anything else in the law, there’s always exceptions and there’s always special circumstances. For your specific situation, you must contact an attorney who can advise you on what benefits you’re entitled to and what you need to do to get them. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen who have come into my office who have been in a serious accident and who have lost thousands upon thousands of dollars in benefits that they were entitled to under their own insurance policy because they had no idea what they were doing.

 

You can’t rely on the advice of your own insurance company when you get into an auto accident. Oftentimes, the insurance company will give you the least benefits that they can get away with.

 

Go and see an attorney as soon as you can. Another reason that it’s imperative that you see an attorney as soon as possible after an auto accident, is that the insurance company will often fight you on certain benefits, deny you benefits, or after a certain amount of time arbitrarily just cut your benefits off. I recently had a woman come into my office who is a speech therapist in the medical field and who was involved in a serious car accident. The car accident caused her serious brain injury and she could no longer work. She has been undergoing weekly medical rehabilitation services to try to get her back to normal. At first, the insurance company paid her benefits. But after eight months, without warning, the insurance company cut off her benefits and has refused to pay her medical bills or her lost wages. As a result this poor woman is unable to get the medical care she needs to get better, and she is losing her house and her ability to survive. She’s in jeopardy of being out on the street. I’m currently in the process of helping this woman, but it would have been a lot easier had she come to me from day one. I might have been able to prevent her benefits from getting shut off in the first place.

I hope that this week’s blog post has helped shed some light on the no fault system in Michigan so the next time that you or someone you know is involved in an auto accident you will know your rights. Or at the very least, the next time someone starts mouthing off about Michigan no fault, you’ll be able to know what you’re talking about. Michigan’s no fault system can be very complicated and confusing. I have personally helped thousands of people get the benefits that they’re entitled to and put their lives back together after an auto accident. Feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

Next week, I’m going to cover what’s known as “third party” auto cases. This is where you actually sue the driver or person responsible for the automobile accident. So instead of getting benefits from your own insurance company as in no fault, in a third-party case you’re actually suing someone and going after them and their insurance company. Confused? Don’t be. All will be revealed next week. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend.