Injuries: chronic headaches, anxiety, back spasms
My cousin was in the accident. He is starting physical therapy, do you think that will help him get a case?
Do you think he has a shot at suing? Can you only sue if your insurance company won't cover it?
No very often...but I would talk to a local PI attorney.
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Personal Injury Lawyer
It depends on how serious his bodily function and ability to lead his normal life are affected. For example: How long was he off work?
Always consult an attorney IMMEDIATELY as there are time limitations on filing a lawsuit.
Brain Injury Lawyer
Most lawyers provide for a free consultation. Contact a local lawyer to review the matter with you.
It appears from what you have described he needs to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney. In Michigan he would have to have a serious impairment of an important bodily injury to have a case. A head injury will often meet that threshold.
You ask if going to PT will "help him get a case." We'll, if he needs PT, by all means he should go to PT and it will be important to his case on damages. if, on the other hand, he is going to PT because he thinks it "will help him get a case," he should save himself time and his insurance carrier money and do something productive. I can guarantee that if his injuries are soft tissue injuries (sprains, strains, spams, bulging discs, herniations without impingement, etc.), the defendants will move for summary judgment. I am not familiar with the serious injury threshold in MI, though I'll bet it's close to the New York model. In New York these motions are routine.
I am a co-author of WEITZ ON AUTOMOBILE LITIGATION: THE NO FAULT HANDBOOK. The opinions expressed in this answer are not intended to be taken as legal advice. These opinions are based on New York practice. I may be contacted at 212-553-9300.
You won't know for sure until a local experienced personal injury attorney review all of the relevant facts.
Have a local personal injury lawyer investigate
Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
You ask a number of very good questions. You and your cousin should discuss this with an experienced MI personal injury lawyer who can get all the necessary details and give you an answer based on all the facts.
First, your cousin will need to be able to demonstrate as serious impairment to an important bodily function. This is fact-based and will depend on a great variety of factors. Second, you may be confusing first-party benefits (generally, medical expenses, such a physician and physical therapy visits, attendant (nursing) care, replacement services and wage loss) with third-party benefits. It sounds like you will need to discuss this with a lawyer.
Brain Injury Lawyer
To answer this question, you need to understand how the Michigan No-Fault system works. First, things like wage loss, medical bills, and other benefits are paid from one insurance company - usually your cousin's own insurance company in this case. These benefits are paid "without regard to fault". There is an specific order of priority establishing which carrier is responsible for these benefits and - so long has he was not driving his own uninsured vehicle at the time of the accident - there is a carrier for these benefits.
The second claim is against the negligent driver. That driver must be more than 50% at fault for the accident before your cousin is entitled to collect pain and suffering benefits or excess wage loss benefits provided under the No-Fault Act. Then, your cousin must demonstrate that he has suffered what is called a threshold injury. This is defined by statute as "an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person's general ability to lead his or her normal life." This typically means that you have to have BOTH medical documentation and a documented change in lifestyle. For example, if your cousin is prohibited from working for more than 6 months or if he is bedridden for a period of time or if he is unable to bend over without pain in his back and there is a positive finding by a physician, you may have a case that meets the threshold. The statute of limitations on claims for pain and suffering is three years. Your cousin first needs to see an attorney. Second, he also needs to understand that his potential lawsuit does NOT drive his medical treatment. His focus should always be on getting better and returning to work.