How Should an Injury Lawyer Begin an Auto Accident Investigation in Michigan?
Lawyers should obtain the UD-10 police report, then explore potential causes of action for auto accident lawsuits
Lawyer investigation of a car accident case in Michigan begins with an analysis of liability and negligence (fault). Who caused the car accident? Is there any comparative negligence that could be attributed to your potential client?
This is critical under Michigan law as, under MCL 500.3135 (2)(b), damages in a motor vehicle accident are assessed under a comparative fault doctrine — except that damages will not be assessed if an injured claimant is more than 50 percent at fault for causing the motor vehicle accident. Lawyers should note that this very harsh comparative fault standard will only apply to non-economic pain and suffering damages. It does not apply to economic loss from a car accident injury or wrongful death case.
Get The Police Report
A good first step for attorneys is to obtain the full police report including the UD-10. Too often, law firms will rely solely on the UD-10, only to be surprised by photographs or witness statements or police investigation which is contained in the full police report, but of which there may be no mention whatsoever in the UD-10 form. The UD-10 itself is not admissible in court. However, the UD-10 can and should be used throughout the case investigation including up through case evaluation to obtain the best results possible for your client.
Michigan lawyers reviewing an auto accident injury claim must spend the time making sure the police report was thorough and that police investigators took appropriate steps to preserve crucial evidence. Unless you are an experienced personal injury attorney, most lawyers cannot comprehend how many simple and important mistakes are made by the police in investigating auto accidents.
Possible Causes Of Car Accidents
Critical but often ignored other potential personal injury causes of action in motor vehicle accident cases can involve:
- Investigation into the vehicle itself;
- Failed parts;
- Debris field involving car vehicle damage;
- Blood alcohol samples;
- Seat belt use;
- And a host of other issues that can affect liability against both the negligent tortfeasor who caused the car accident, but also against other potential defendants as well.
Insurance Policy Limits For At-Fault Driver
Frequently, if there is catastrophic serious personal injury or death, the insurance policy limit of the primary negligent tortfeasor will not be sufficient to compensate for all the losses your client suffered, and serious inquiry should be made about other defendants and types of cases, such as product liability, vehicle defect or defective road design.