Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Michigan

What is a personal injury claim?

A personal injury claim provides an opportunity to the injured person to stake a claim for compensation for the injuries he has suffered in the state of Michigan. A personal injury may be suffered due to a motor accident, slip and fall, product liability, or any other act of someone resulting into personal injury by fault of another party.

Michigan Personal Injury Laws

The success of personal injury lawsuits depends largely on proving that the party being sued was negligent, i.e. their actions were responsible for an accident and any injuries caused and these actions could have been avoided.

In Michigan, a modified comparative negligence rule is used to determine how much compensation can be awarded if there is an element of fault determined by both the party sued and the injured party, who is the plaintiff. The amount of compensation is diminished by the percentage of fault determined in the plaintiff, unless the injured person was 50% or more at fault, in which case they cannot obtain any compensation.

In car accidents, Michigan is a no-fault state. This means that car drivers must have insurance to cover them for injuries caused by a car accident. Personal injury claims cannot be pursued unless the accident victim died or suffered very serious injuries.

There is a cap on ‘pain and suffering’ components of medical negligence claims. The maximum compensation allowed is $445,000. If medical malpractice has been proven to have caused death or serious disfigurement, the cap is $795,500.

Michigan has a “strict” dog bite law. This means that dog owners are liable for any unprovoked attack their dog makes on someone else, even if there has been no previous history of aggressive behavior.

The state’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years from the date of the injury for any claim except a claim made against a government entity. In this latter case, the statute of limitations is only six months from the date of the accident.

Statute of limitations

The state of Michigan, like every other state, follows its own set of rules in allotting time for filing a case for personal injury. There exist a few guidelines that need to be followed by the injured person in order to avail compensation.

  • The state of Michigan allows a time period of three years to file the case in court. The three year period provides relevant time to the injured person to file his case for personal injury.
  • The three year time limit which begins from the date of accident must be strictly adhered to by the injured person.
  • In case the injured person is not able to find out his injuries until a certain period after the accident, then the three year time period begins on the detection date of the injury.

Motor vehicle insurance policy in Michigan for personal injury claims

The state of Michigan follows a “no-fault” system in case of only auto insurance, stating that whenever an accident occurs, the insurance provider of each party covers for the injuries suffered including other costs, irrespective of who was at fault for the accident.

However, the state of Michigan forbids the injured person from visiting court after a motor accident except in some severe scenarios. In order to file a case, the injured must have suffered:

  • Death
  • Serious disfigurement, or
  • Severe injury to a bodily function

The conditions must be met by a valid medical proof; only then the case can be moved to the court for further action.

A look at Comparative Fault Law in Michigan

If you have been injured and are partially responsible for the accident, your personal injury claim will be affected. The state of Michigan implements a “modified comparative fault” rule to settle cases where the injured person is found to be partly at fault. The comparative fault law lessens the damages of the injured person if he found at a fault for the personal injuries suffered by him. In case the injured person is found to be at a fault of 50 percent or more, then he loses his right to make a claim for the injuries he has suffered. Example:

Suppose John is speeding while driving. As he passes a junction, a driver coming from the other end runs a red light and rams his car into John’s, causing serious injuries. During the trial, the total damages to be paid to John are $100,000 to compensate for his medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and the value of his wrecked car. However, the court ruled that John was 10% at fault for the accident, as he was speeding. Michigan’s comparative fault rule will decrease the damages by $10,000 from the total amount of $100,000, leaving him with $90,000.

Real Personal Injury incident that occurred in Michigan

According to Giroux Ratton Trial Attorneys, a young man was wrongfully stopped and manhandled by two city of Detroit patrol officers, which lead to the person suffering a fractured jaw. In spite of the injuries getting healed in 6 to 8 months, the injured person was awarded $2.5 million dollars by the guilty party.

Damage caps in Michigan

Some states put limits on how much you can earn from a personal injury claim. Michigan puts caps on non-economic damages in product accountability and medical negligence. The caps are $280,000 in most cases, or $500,000 for scenarios resulting in the injured person’s death or cases where permanent disabilities occur. The state of Michigan does not allow the injured person to receive punitive damages, apart for some special cases where these types of damages are allowed by the court, such as medical injury claims.

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