Can I Sue the At-fault Driver in a Michigan Car Accident?
Michigan’s no-fault insurance law only permits lawsuits against an at-fault driver for pain and suffering or excess economic loss — NOT for medical costs or lost wages unless the driver was uninsured.
The Detroit accident lawyers at our firm are frequently asked by clients whether they can file a lawsuit against another driver in an accident even though they have no-fault insurance. The answer is both “No" and “Yes."
The state’s insurance law is designed to minimize the need for personal injury lawsuits and prohibits lawsuits against drivers for medical costs and lost wages related to their injuries. That’s the “No."
However, it is not uncommon for personal injury lawyers in Michigan to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver in an accident. This is because the law does permit lawsuits in three instances.
Michigan No-Fault Insurance Law’s Allowable Lawsuits Against At-Fault Drivers
Pain and Suffering – Michigan no-fault insurance does not compensate accident victims for non-economic damage, such as pain and suffering and recovery of non-economic damage is prohibited in all but the most serious cases. You may sue for pain and suffering compensation only if the injuries you sustained resulted in permanent serious disfigurement or serious impairment of body function. You may also sue for non-economic damages if the victim was your spouse, child, parent or other close loved one and the victim died from the injuries.
Excess economic damages – If injuries you incur in an accident prevent you from working and the lost wages are greater than the statutory maximum that Michigan no-fault insurance companies have to pay, you can sue the at-fault driver for the portion of wages not covered by the insurance. Additionally, if your inability to work or reduced capacity for work lasts longer than three years, you can sue for all lost wages after the first three years. If you have to hire someone to do chores you can no longer do and those services cost more than $20 per day ( the amount the insurance company is required to pay), you can also sue for the excess cost above $20 per day.
Uninsured Motorist – If any driver involved in the accident was uninsured or was driving an uninsured vehicle, that driver or the owner of the vehicle (if different than the driver) can be sued for all medical costs and lost wages. However, this is usually handled by the Michigan no-fault insurance carriers paying claims for the accident, not by the other drivers.
When auto accident lawyers in Michigan bring pain and suffering or excess economic damage lawsuits against a driver and are successful, the awarded amounts are usually paid by the driver’s liability insurance. In Michigan and Detroit, an accident lawyer is necessary to ensure these lawsuits are successful. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to properly document pain and suffering so that the claims will hold up in court and know how to obtain and present evidence to support economic loss claims.
If you need a car accident attorney in Michigan, the firm of Sachs Waldman, P.C., can help you recover compensation for pain and suffering or excess economic loss caused by your accident injuries. Call our Detroit accident lawyers at 1-800-638-6722 to schedule a free consultation regarding Michigan no-fault insurance.