How To File A Michigan Auto Accident Claim
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
If you have an accident, filing a car accident claim can get complicated — fast.
Most drivers know that if they are involved in a Michigan car accident they need to report the accident to the police and to their insurance company. If the accident was a minor one, that’s usually the end of the story. But if you or any of your passengers have been injured in the car crash — and you are not the “at-fault driver” — the claims process can get complicated quickly.
Call Cochran, Kroll & Associates any time (24 hours) and let us know your situation. An attorney will be happy to meet with you at a time, and in a place, that is convenient for you, including your home or hospital room.
Step 1: Gather Documentation
Hopefully, you have followed through with your basic responsibilities at the scene of the accident, and there is a police report on file. This is available from the police department that responded to the crash and conducted the initial investigation. If there isn’t a police report on file, you could lose your no-fault insurance benefits. The police report is proof that the accident occurred, and that you were in the accident.
Other documentation that is helpful to pull together and organize when you file your claim are any photos taken at the scene, emergency and follow-up medical treatment records, names of medical professionals consulted, other property damage, etc.
Step 2: File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
Michigan is a No-Fault state, and that means that when you are in a car accident in Michigan, one of the first calls you make should be to your insurance company.
At this point in the process, it doesn’t matter if the “at fault” driver is an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Your no-fault insurance covers you, your family members, and others injured in the accident with Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP benefits include medical expenses, a percentage of lost wages for up to three years, and other costs that may be associated with your care and recovery process.
In most cases, PIP is all the coverage you need.
If your injuries are serious — and you are facing long-term disability or permanent disfigurement — the impact on your life is much more profound, and includes economic and emotional impacts that require some skill to calculate and quantify for legal purposes.
It’s also important to note that there have recently been changes made to Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws. Known as Senate Bill 1, the new regulations have made several significant changes concerning coverage limits and other details as a tradeoff for lowering premium rates.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. is prepared to meet with you, review your situation, and help you make informed decisions.
Step 3: Negotiate the Claims Process
Sometimes before a personal injury claim is even filed, the “at fault” driver — or more likely the insurance company that insures the “at fault” driver — will approach you with a settlement offer. In complex cases, settlement discussions can happen several times, over a period of months, as different compensation scenarios are proposed and evaluated.
Insurance companies want to settle for as little as possible, and they also want to settle out of court. You need to have an attorney at your side during any negotiations with insurance company attorneys. Your attorney will be able to explain, in terms you understand, what the settlement offer means and the pros and cons of signing a release.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. is prepared to assist you in interviews and hearings with insurance company attorneys, help you obtain all medical records, prepare witnesses, question witnesses, and make recommendations that you can trust are in your interest.
Step 4: Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Michigan law stipulates that you can only file a lawsuit against the other driver if you have what is known as a threshold injury, which means serious impairment, disability, and/or disfigurement. Examples of threshold injuries are:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Closed Head Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Compound Fractures
Car accident lawyers can help individuals who have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident to fully understand the long-term economic and emotional impact (pain and suffering) of your injuries, and recover damages.
A successful personal injury lawsuit generally means that you, the plaintiff, can prove the negligence and liability of the other driver. This involves assembling evidence, interviewing witnesses, “discovering” information from the other side, and planning a solid legal strategy that will persuade a judge and jury.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. specializes in personal injury cases involving an auto accident, where the plaintiff is not at fault, or only partially at fault. We’re extremely familiar with the personal injury claims process in Michigan — as well as with the practices and procedures in the court system throughout the state. It helps to know the court — and the judge — who will probably be hearing your case.
Step 5: Don’t Wait Too Long
Even when you believe that the claims process will be simple, consulting an attorney is always a helpful step to take. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible after a motor vehicle crash is very important if you’ve been injured.
This is because it’s always easier to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and assemble other documentation as soon after the accident as possible.
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including car accident claims, is three years after the date of the accident.
If a person dies as a result of the injuries sustained in the car accident, and the surviving family decides to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the same three-year statute of limitations applies but begins on the date of death.
The Most Important Step
Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. has proven expertise in helping individuals and families who have suffered losses — as a result of injuries, disabilities, or death — to understand their legal options, and recover damages.
Most clients work with us on a contingency fee agreement, which means we don’t get paid until you receive your settlement. Contingency fee agreements are set by statute (MRPC Rule 1.5).
Contact us toll-free (24 hours) at 866-755-9502 or use our convenient online contact form.
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.