How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help You in an Automobile Accident
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
A reputable car accident attorney in Michigan can assist you with first steps after a car accident, the applicable state laws and take you through the process of filing your claims.
Car accident statistics
- On average 6 million accidents a year in the USA
- About 3 million injuries caused by car accidents annually
- 2 million of those are permanent injuries
- A 6% fatality rate with 90 people a day dying in car accidents
- 72% of car accidents involve property damage
Causes of car accidents
You may be one of the safest drivers on the road, who follow the rules and keep your eyes open, but there are many negligent drivers on the roads and accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. A child or a dog may suddenly dash into the road, or a driver skips a red light, or a crane may collapse in a construction site, or some other unforeseen event.
The most common causes of car accidents include:
33% of accidents are ascribed to reckless driving
Speeding is a factor in at least 30% of accidents
Impaired driving when using alcohol, legal or illegal narcotics, and marijuana causes untold destruction to families injured in car crashes. The use of alcohol is a factor in over 40% of accidents, killing 29 people, which translates to one death every 50 minutes, and for car accident deaths in children account for 17%.
More than a million drivers are arrested annually for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, which represent only 1% of the self-reported 111 million episodes of driving impaired.
13% of night-time and weekend drivers have marijuana in their system, and they are 25% more likely to be involved in car accidents.
Drugs such as narcotics are involved in approximately 16% of accidents.
Sleep deprivation and drowsy driving is a major factor in car accidents, as more than half of all drivers admit to driving when drowsy, and 30% has confessed to nodding off while driving. Drowsy driving is considered more dangerous than drunk driving, as sleep deprivation robs the driver of the ability to recognize that they are drowsy and unable to react in time. Drunk drivers tend to drive slowly as they struggle to concentrate, however in sleep deprivation, the driver may be going at high speed and suddenly nod off.
Distracted driving is becoming such a problem (1 in 5 crashes with injuries) that most states have enacted laws or published regulations to stop drivers from operating any tools that may distract them or eat and drink. Distracted driving includes:
- Trying to retrieve something out of reach
- Using a mobile phone
- Checking a navigation device
- Texting while driving
- Doing make-up or shaving
- Eating and drinking
In most states, you are not allowed to operate a mobile phone or another communication device by hand, nor navigation devices. Drivers may only use mounted phones that do not take their eyes off the road and may not press more than one button or use voice commands. However, even just talking on the phone, distracts you from what is going on in front of you on the road.
Sending one text at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field without watching the road, according to the CDC. You are 23 times more likely to crash if you are texting, and texting while driving kills nine people every day.
Despite these horrific statistics, and regulations banning texting, very little change is seen in accident statistics despite enforcement. One in three people still texts while driving. More than 40% of teens report having been in a car where the use of a mobile phone by the driver put the passengers in danger.
Interstate truck and bus drivers and drivers who transport hazardous materials are now specifically prohibited from operating a mobile phone or any other electronic device, in new rules issued by the FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
What to do if you have been in a car accident
So, you have been involved in a car accident – you are hurt and in shock and cannot quite believe it happened. It may be a simple fender-bender involving only two vehicles, or it could involve multiple parties with serious injuries.
Accident scenes are chaotic and stressful – you may have problems recalling clearly what happened or what was said at a later stage, so make sure you follow a plan.
What are your next steps?
Do not leave the scene of the accident.
- Remain as calm as possible. Take a few deep breaths to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system to help you calm down.
- Check for obvious injuries – in your vehicle and others. If there are any injuries, report it immediately and ask for assistance from authorities, such as an ambulance, fire department or police.
- Make sure there is ample warning for approaching motorists and move to a safe spot if no injuries.
- Do not apologize nor accept blame or sign anything.
- Gather as much evidence as you possibly can:
- Details of those involved – other driver(s)’ name, contact details, license number, and insurance information, details of the vehicles involved, such as number plates, make, model, color and damage (even damage not related to the accident)
- Names and contact details of witnesses
- Names and contact details of officials (highway patrol, traffic officers) on the scene.
- Take photos or video of the scene around the accident, of
- All sides of the vehicles
- The road and road condition
- Traffic signs and lights
- The weather
- A video of the entire scene can assist later to pick up items not noticed at the time that could have been a factor in the accident.
- Record verbal witness statements if possible.
- Call a car accident lawyer as soon as you can, to get advice on additional information needed and steps to follow. You may have a claim for damages even if you are insured, or someone else may file suit against you for damages, so protect your rights as soon as possible. Your car accident attorney in Michigan can give you advice at the scene as to what information you need to collect. Most importantly, they can ensure that critical evidence is not destroyed, especially if the accident involves company vehicles.
- Get a copy of the official accident report from the officer on the scene.
- Seek immediate medical attention even if you feel fine, some injuries are not evident immediately at the scene, such as a whiplash injury or torn ligaments.
What to do after the accident
To protect your rights and ensure you maximize your compensation for damages and injuries suffered, it is essential to get yourself organized.
Start the documentation with all the details of the accident, including all the details collected at the scene.
Track all communications such as phone calls, record who made the call, date and time, company name, person’s name, and position and what was discussed.
If you have been injured in the car accident, you need to record your injuries carefully and document each medical visit – date, time, facility, who you saw, what procedures were done and explanations provided by medical professionals of the injuries you suffered.
Record the effects of the injury daily – it can be brief but must be clear (for example, pain in right hip, radiating down the leg, unable to put weight on the leg)
Record your efforts to cope with the pain and be open about emotions (but try not to be too negative).
Record the names and contact details of all witnesses to events in the documentation.
Record the effect on your ability to work and provide documentation and witnesses.
Michigan laws related to car accidents
In Michigan, the Statute of limitations is strictly one year to obtain no-fault benefits, and if you run out, it will make it difficult to pressure insurance carriers or other companies to settle out of court.
The Michigan No-fault Law (Senate Bill 1) ensures that victims in Michigan auto accidents can claim benefits as long as they are insured. The new no-fault law was signed into law on June 11, 2019, which enacted significant mini-tort changes and allows you to claim part of your damages from the at-fault party’s insurance. It is typically listed as “limited property damage liability” coverage on your auto insurance policy’s declarations page. It is used to pay for damage to your vehicle or your deductibles, depending on the insurance cover. The maximum recovery limit was increased to $3,000 and a choice of medical benefit cover.
Tolling of the one-year back rule will now be available immediately if due diligence is shown. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) will remain liable for catastrophic injury benefits payable under policies issued or renewed before July 2, 2020, and for policies after July 1, 2020, for unlimited No-Fault PIP medical benefits options. Bodily injury limits are increased to $50,000 for bodily injury or death to one person in a one-car crash or $100,000 for two or more persons in a one-car crash.
You can file a first-party claim, a third-party claim or a mini tort claim. Discuss these issues and other changes with your Car Accident Attorney in Michigan. Other issues to note:
- You must prove which driver was at fault. (MCL 500.3135(3)(e)).
- Damages are assessed on a “comparative fault” basis and will determine your recovery. (MCL 500.3135(4)(a)).
- recovery only applies “to the extent that the damages are not covered by insurance.” (MCL 500.3135(3)(e)).
- If you are fully covered and your deductible is waived, you are not covered by the mini-tort.
- If you are uninsured, there is no recovery (MCL 500.3135(4)(e)).
- If the at-fault driver is uninsured at the time of the crash, there are no restrictions by the mini-tort recovery limit, and you can sue for the full amount of the vehicle damage, as well as other out-of-pocket expenses such as car rentals and loss of use of the vehicle.
Car-insurance coverage issues such as out-of-state drivers, joyriding, rentals, driving someone else’s car or riding as a passenger are complex and should be discussed with a lawyer.
A Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. Car Accident Attorney in Michigan can help you if you have been involved in an automobile accident, providing advice at the scene of the accident, filing your claim with your insurance company and negotiating a settlement, filing first-party or third-party claims, or dealing with injury claims and wrongful death claims. They fight for individuals and their families and have the requisite knowledge and experience to steer you through the maze of laws, regulations, and procedures for dealing with a car accident claim.
Car accidents fall under negligence claims, and as with all negligence claims, you will have to:
- Prove a duty of care existed
- Breach of that duty
- Clear and proximate causality
- Actual damages suffered
Additional state rules that affect your insurance claims, your comparative contribution to fault and statements made can all influence the outcome of litigation and should be handled by your lawyer.
How to Choose a Lawyer?
A car accident lawyer could be the best thing to happen to you on such a horrific day, but don’t just call the first lawyer that pops up on Google – do your homework beforehand and save the number with your emergency numbers:
- Credentials – has the lawyer been practicing in personal injury and car accident cases, and have they been handling cases similar to yours?
- Location and Accessibility – is their office conveniently located near you? Can you reach them by other means, such as phone or email?
- Comfort and Trust Level – does the lawyer seem interested in your case, or if you pick them before anything has gone wrong, are they willing to give you basic information as to what to do when things go wrong? Do you feel comfortable that you can trust them and with sharing very personal information with this lawyer?
- Cost – can you lawyer provide you with a clear estimate of their costs? Do they handle cases on a contingency basis?
If you live in Michigan and wish to file a car accident claim, call our law firm at 866-MICH-LAW.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.