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Civil Lawsuit For Car Accident In Michigan: Here’s What To Know

May 24, 2022 by Steven M. Gursten

Civil Lawsuit For Car Accident: Here's What To Know

A civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan allows someone injured by an at-fault, negligent driver to hold that driver accountable for the pain and suffering and economic losses he or she has caused from the crash.

A separate civil lawsuit allows a crash victim to recover unpaid or overdue No-Fault PIP benefits from the auto insurance company responsible for providing No-Fault benefits.

Can someone file a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan?

A crash victim can file a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan to recover pain and suffering compensation and economic losses from the at-fault driver. A mini tort lawsuit for vehicle damage can also be filed against the at-fault driver. Finally, a No-Fault lawsuit against an insurer allows recovery for unpaid PIP benefits.

Suing for pain and suffering compensation

You can sue the at-fault driver who injured you for pain and suffering compensation in a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan. You must be able to prove that: (1) the at-fault driver was 50% or more at fault for the crash; and (2) your injuries resulted in a “serious impairment of body function.”

“Serious impairment of body function” is the tort-threshold under Michigan’s No-Fault insurance law that a person must first meet in order to collect non-economic loss damages from an auto accident. (MCL 500.3135(1), (2), (3)(b) and (5))

This means that in order for an auto accident victim like yourself to have the legal right to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation, a crash victim must pass this threshold level test showing that his or her accident-related injuries have caused him or her to suffer a “serious impairment of body function.”

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help to document and prove that a person has suffered a serious impairment of body function so they can bring a lawsuit for injuries from an automobile crash.

To be able to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation, your civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan must be filed within three (3) years from the date of your auto accident. (MCL 600.5805(2))

Suing for wrongful death

If you have lost a loved one in a car crash, you and your family may be able to sue the at-fault driver for wrongful death in a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan. This allows recovery for your family’s loss of your loved one’s financial support and companionship.

The family members who may be eligible to recover damages for wrongful death lawsuit after an automobile crash include: (1) the spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters of your deceased loved one; (2) children of your loved one’s spouse; (3) “devisees” under your loved one’s will.

Michigan’s wrongful death act requires that the lawsuit for an automobile crash on behalf of your loved one must be brought by the personal representative of your loved one’s estate.

There is no specific wrongful death statute of limitations. Generally, the 3-year statute of limitations for all personal injury claims applies, meaning that the lawsuit for an automobile crash in a wrongful death case must be filed within three (3) years of your loved one’s death.

Suing for No-Fault PIP benefits

You can sue for No-Fault PIP benefits in a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan if the auto insurance company has not paid your benefits or if your No-Fault benefits are overdue. The No-Fault law requires auto insurers to pay benefits to auto accident victims within 30 days of receiving proof that benefits are owed.

Michigan No-Fault auto insurance PIP benefits help auto accident victims pay for medical expenses, lost wages, medical mileage (transportation expenses for traveling to and from doctor and medical appointments), household replacement services and attendant care services.

To protect your rights to sue for unpaid, overdue No-Fault benefits in a lawsuit after an automobile crash, it is critical that you file an application for No-Fault benefits – which is also called a “written notice of injury” – with the responsible auto insurance company within one (1) year after the crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))

Failure to file the application on time – within ONE YEAR from the date of the automobile crash – will forever disqualify the injured victim from claiming, recovering and/or suing for the benefits that he or she might have otherwise been legally entitled to.

When and if your insurance company refuses to pay your benefits or cuts off your benefits, you have one (1) year from the date that your unpaid medical bill, wage loss, medical mileage, replacement service or attendant service was incurred to file your civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan. (MCL 500.3145(2))

The one (1)-year deadline for suing “is tolled from the date of a specific claim for payment of the benefits until the date the insurer formally denies the claim.” (MCL 500.3145(3))

Suing for vehicle damage repair costs

Suing the at-fault driver to recover vehicle damage repair costs in a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan is called a mini tort lawsuit. Under Michigan’s mini tort law, an auto accident victim can sue the at-fault driver who damaged his or her vehicle for up to $3,000.

Most of the time, a Michigan mini tort case can be resolved without a lawsuit being filed. Frequently, the victim will file his or her mini tort claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurer – or the driver personally – and a settlement will be reached.

However, if the at-fault driver does not carry mini tort coverage (which is also known as “limited property damage coverage”) or he or she or the insurance refuse to be held accountable and, thus, they refuse to pay on your mini tort claim, then you will have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Small Claims Court to to collect your mini tort benefits.

You have three (3) years after the date of the crash to file your mini tort lawsuit. (MCL 600.5805(2))

Who do I sue in a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan?

You will sue the at-fault driver in your civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan if you are seeking to recover pain and suffering compensation, wrongful death damages, and/or vehicle damage repair costs. However, you will sue the responsible auto insurer if you are seeking payment of overdue No-Fault benefits.

How long does it take for a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan?

There are many factors that affect how long it can take to resolve a lawsuit for an automobile crash. The victim’s injuries, the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and whether liability is being contested play significant roles. But one of the most important factors from a victim’s perspective is his or her lawyer.

Not only can an experienced automobile crash attorney settle cases faster and for more money, but the insurance industry’s own research shows that an experienced attorney with a track record of success and a reputation for trying automobile crash cases can increase a settlement amount by up to 4x more than an unrepresented individual or even an attorney who does not specialize in auto accident litigation.

Do you have questions about filing a civil lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan? Call the auto accident attorneys at Michigan Auto Law

If you were injured in an auto accident and you have questions about filing a civil lawsuit in Michigan, your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and auto No-Fault insurance benefits, you can speak to an experienced auto accident lawyer at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced No-Fault insurance attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.

Civil Lawsuit For Car Accident In Michigan: Here\'s What To Know

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