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Hit By A Drunk Driver in Michigan, Can I Sue?

March 22, 2022 by Steven M. Gursten

If you were hit by a drunk driver in Michigan and if he or she was at-fault, then you may be able to sue for: (1) pain and suffering compensation; (2) wrongful damages if you lost a loved one; (3) medical bills and lost wages that are not covered by car insurance; and (4) mini tort damages to pay for your vehicle damage repair costs.

Hit By A Drunk Driver In Michigan, Can I Sue

Can I sue a drunk driver that hit me in Michigan?

If you were hit by a drunk driver in Michigan, you may be able to sue if: (1) he or she was at-fault; (2) you suffered personal injury, and those injuries meet the threshold of constituting a “serious impairment of body function”; (3) your loved one lost his or her life in the crash, in which case the estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased; (4) you incurred “excess” medical bills and lost wages; and/or (5) the cost to repair your vehicle damage is $3,000 or less.

If a driver who is under the influence of alcohol crashed into me, can I bring a car accident lawsuit to sue for pain and suffering compensation?

You may be able to sue for pain and suffering compensation if you were hit by a drunk driver in Michigan and injured. However, under Michigan’s auto law you will first need to be able to prove that he or she was at-fault or negligent and that your injuries have caused you to suffer a “serious impairment of body function.”

Pain and suffering compensation may cover damages for:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Fright and shock
  • Inability to be with and socialize with family and friends
  • Embarrassment
  • Anxiety

“Serious impairment of body function” is the legal threshold under Michigan’s No-Fault auto law for pain and suffering compensation, which is also referred to as “noneconomic loss” damages. In other words, unless you can show that you suffered a “serious impairment of body function,” you cannot sue for pain and suffering compensation if you were injured in a crash with a driver who is under the influence of alcohol.

Is the driver who was under the influence of alcohol and who crashed into me negligent?

If you have been hit by a drunk driver, then he or she will be considered negligent, a legal term synonymous with being at-fault. Driving drunk by itself is considered a failure to use the “ordinary care” that “a reasonably careful person would use.” (M Civ JI 10.02) Additionally, violation of Michigan’s drunk driving statute is proof of negligence. (MCL 257.625; M Civ JI 12.01). If drunk driving causes the negligent, at-fault driver to strike your car, then that drunk driver will certainly be considered negligent under Michigan’s auto law.

Can I sue for wrongful death if I have been hit by a drunk driver and it caused the death of a loved one?

If you were hit by a drunk driver in Michigan and you lost a loved one in the crash, then you will be able to sue the at-fault drunk driver for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit allows you and your family to recover damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship and loss of financial support.

The wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by the personal representative of your loved one’s estate. The personal representative is appointed by a probate court judge.

If someone driving under the influence of alcohol crashed into me, can I sue the bar that overserved the driver?

If a drunk driver has injured you or a family member, Michigan’s dram shop law will allow you to sue the bar that overserved the driver if you can show: (1) the driver was “visibly intoxicated” when the bar served alcohol to the driver; and (2) the sale was the “proximate cause” of your injuries. (MCL 436.1801(2))

Michigan’s dram shop law prohibits bars, restaurants and other businesses that are licensed by the state to serve alcohol from selling, furnishing or giving “alcoholic liquor to an individual who is visibly intoxicated.” (MCL 436.1801(1))

A person who has been injured or who has lost a family member because he or she was hit by a drunk driver “has a right of action” against the person or bar who by unlawfully serving alcohol to the “visibly intoxicated” driver “has caused or contributed to the intoxication of the person or who has caused or contributed to the damage, injury, or death.” (MCL 436.1801(2))

You have two (2) years “after the injury or death” to bring a dram shop lawsuit. Additionally, after you enter “an attorney-client relationship for the purpose of pursuing a claim under this section,” you “shall give written notice to all defendants within 120 days.” (MCL 436.1801(3))

What is my compensation for being hit by a drunk driver?

There is no reliable public database that exists to calculate the average compensation for being hit by a drunk driver in Michigan. Instead, compensation in a car accident lawsuit will depend on certain factors, including: (1) the nature and extent of your injuries and pain and suffering; (2) the amount and extent of your medical bills and lost wages, both past and future if your injuries and impairments will persist; (3) your car accident lawyer’s track record and reputation with the insurance companies; and (4) the at-fault drunk driver’s liability insurance limits.

Your choice of auto accident attorney who will help you and your family is particularly important.

Experienced auto accident attorneys who have a track record of success and a reputation for taking cases to trial can usually settle cases for significantly more money and often much faster than attorneys who do not have that same record of success and reputation for being willing to take cases to trial. Insurance industry research indicates that your attorney’s reputation can increase a settlement amount by up to 4x more than an attorney without that reputation, experience, and track record of success.

To learn more about what your compensation may be if you were hit by a drunk driver, please check our “Settlement Calculator.”

Does car insurance cover drunk driving accidents?

Michigan No-Fault auto insurance will cover drunk driving accidents and provide benefits to pay for accident-related medical bills and lost wages for people who were injured in the crash. Generally, liability insurance provides coverage to at-fault drivers even in crashes where the named insured was a drunk driver.

It is crucial, however, to check the terms of the at-fault drunk driver’s liability insurance policy to verify coverage.

Can I sue for medical bills and lost wages if a driver who was under the influence of alcohol crashed into me?

Generally, your accident-related medical bills and wage loss payments will be covered as No-Fault benefits through the responsible auto insurance company. However, if your medical bills and lost wages exceed what is covered by the policy, then you may be able to sue the at-fault drunk driver for “excess” benefits.

Your claim for “excess” No-Fault benefits would be brought as part of your third-party claim for pain and suffering compensation.

Excess medical expenses cover that portion of your medical bills that exceeds the No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level that was selected in the auto insurance policy through which you are claiming No-Fault benefits.

Excess lost wages cover the portion of your lost income that exceeds the monthly maximum and/or the three-year limit that are set by Michigan’s No-Fault auto insurance law.

Can I sue for vehicle damage if I was hit by a drunk driver?

In Michigan, if you were hit by a drunk driver you can sue an at-fault drunk driver for up to $3,000 to cover your vehicle damage repair costs so long as they are not otherwise covered by your insurance. This is called a mini tort claim. It can be filed with the drunk driver’s insurance company or you can file a lawsuit in Small Claims court.

How to file an auto insurance claim against someone for vehicle damage

To file an auto insurance claim against someone for vehicle damage, you will need to file a mini tort claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company or the at-fault driver, personally, if he or she does not have coverage. If your mini tort claim is refused, then you will need to file your claim in Small Claims Court.

A drunk driver hit me but I have no insurance

In Michigan, if you were hit by a drunk driver and you were driving your own vehicle and you had no insurance, then you will be disqualified from suing and from receiving No-Fault benefits. However, if you were in someone else’s car or if you were a bicyclist or a pedestrian, then having no insurance does not affect your right to sue the at-fault drunk driver.

The penalties in Michigan for driving one’s own vehicle without the legally required No-Fault auto insurance are very severe.

Were you hit by a drunk driver and injured? Call Michigan Auto Law for a free consultation

If you or a loved one was in a car accident with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and was injured you and you have questions about your and your family’s legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and auto No-Fault insurance benefits, you can call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident attorneys. You can also get help by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.

Hit By A Drunk Driver in Michigan, Can I Sue?

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