Frequently Asked Questions regarding Motor Vehicle Accidents
1. What is No Fault?
Answer: Michigan has a system called “no-fault” which most drivers don’t fully understand. The name seems to imply that fault is not a consideration when discussing motor vehicle accidents. This is not true.
BENEFITS YOUR OWN OR SOMEONE ELSE’S INSURANCE OWES YOU
The “no-fault” in the law in regards to motor vehicle accidents applies to those benefits you get from your own insurer regardless of whether you caused the accident or not. This sounds simple enough, right? Well even attorneys who do not practice regularly and routinely in this area don’t always get it and leave money on the table as a result of that. That harms their clients. This is how the law determines where you get your no-fault benefits from:
a. If you are operating your own car when you are injured in an accident you will get your no-fault benefits from your own insurer.
b. If you are a passenger in a car we first have to ask if you owned your own car, and if you did, and it has no-fault insurance on it then you will get your no-fault benefits from the insurer of your car even though it was not involved in the accident.
c. If you did not own a car with insurance on it we must next ask were you living with a relative on the date of the accident, and did they own a car that had no-fault insurance on it. This is sometimes a problem for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles who may have a hard time seeing why a claim should be made on their car’s insurance policy. This is the law. I didn’t create it. This is just the way it is.
If you didn’t own a car and you weren’t living with a relative who did, then you make your claim for no-fault benefits on your driver’s insurance policy – yes, they come almost last.
If none of those situations apply, you can make a claim through the State of Michigan’s Assigned Claims Division who investigates and if appropriate assigns it to an insurer who sells no-fault insurance in this state.
d. If you are operating a vehicle owned by your employer you will need to make a claim on their no-fault car insurance company. If you drive a company car know who their automobile insurance company is.
e. If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist; again, it will depend on whether you owned a car again or lived with a relative who did. That insurance would come first.
I’m not going into every scenario possible, but the discussion above covers 98% of most of my client’s situations. Sometimes people are denied no-fault benefits and hire an attorney to sue the insurance company. Contact us here.
2. What are no-fault benefits?
No-fault benefits are very important and valuable, and sometimes are worth more than the claim against the at fault driver or drivers. Broadly speaking no-fault benefits, and this is not an all-inclusive list, are:
a. Wage loss or also wage continuation benefits which are generally speaking 85% of your gross wages, that is, your before tax wages.
b. Lifetime medical benefits for injuries associated from the accident. My own mother who was crippled seriously in an accident in 1975 is STILL receiving PIP benefits today. In 2012!
That alone could keep you out of the poor house, and Michigan is the only state in the country to have lifetime no-fault benefits. Many of my friends complain about the high cost of auto insurance, but I would not want to se this system changed for the sake of saving money on auto insurance.
c. Household services also called replacements services, which is a miserly $20 per day has not been changed in 40 years.
d. Attendant care. This is when a person needs help dressing, with bed pans, bathing, injecting, changing dressings, catheters, etc. Services like what a nurse or nurses aid might provide to a patient. These are compensated on an hourly basis. This is so family members, friends, neighbors can get paid for their help in this regard.
e. Death benefits aren’t usually much. Often, only $2500 or so toward funeral costs.
f. Vocational retraining benefits in the event injuries will prevent a person from returning to their former employment.
No-fault benefits must be applied for within one year of the date of the accident or they are lost forever. No-fault benefits properly claimed within one year of their being incurred which are wrongfully denied by the automobile insurer must be sued upon with one year of their being incurred. Contact form
Finally, no-fault benefits are sometimes also called first party benefits or PIP benefits for personal injury protection benefits.
3. Do I have a case?
Answer: This depends on whether you have injuries from the accident and if you have done quality medical treatment usually with specialists like orthopedic and neurosurgeons; and have gotten the right test, for example, MRI and EMG testing.
4. Do I have to have insurance on my car to have a case?
Answer: Yes. Since 1996, if you are driving your own car in Michigan when the accident occurs and do not have any automobile insurance you will not have a case or be entitled to no fault benefits.
5.Do I pay any money to hire your firm?
Answer: No. We only get paid if you do.
6. What are the most important things to do when I am in an accident?
Answer: If you are injured seek medical treatment first and often. Then as soon as possible contact your car insurance company, which will be your insurer if you are driving your car or if you are a passenger it will be the insurer of your own car or that of a family member you are living with. I n either case along with reporting the accident request a No Fault Benefits Application. Yes, you read that correctly. Passengers only make a claim on their driver’s insurer if they or the family they are living with don’t have an insured vehicle.
7. Are truck and bus accidents covered by the same laws as automobile accidents?
Answer: Yes, in general.
8. Does it cost me anything to call or email your firm?
Answer: All first appointments are Free regardless of what matter we are consulted on. All injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis . That means we only get paid if you do.
9. I have an attorney already, but I am not happy with him/her. Can I switch to your firm?
Answer: Yes. That is your absolute right. It will not cost you any more overall to switch law offices.
10. What factors effect the amount that is ultimately paid out on a personal injury case?
Answer: Degree of injury, amount and quality of medical treatment, whether or not you can work while you are recovering, insurance policy limits of the at fault driver and anyone else at fault, whether you have uninsured and /or under-insured motorist coverage on your own vehicle, your age and your occupation are some of the most common factors. Overall what these factors translate into in the personal injury arena are: How Much Has The Accident Affected Your Normal Life.