Understanding How Compensation is Awarded for Car Accident Injuries
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
The value of your car accident will depend on the specific costs and losses that resulted from the crash. Most car accident victims don’t have the experience to accurately calculate the total losses of a car crash without the help of a skilled car accident lawyer.
Understanding the calculations used for car accident injury compensation can help you pursue the highest possible settlement for your injuries. Learn how the court calculates compensation for car accident injuries and how Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can get you the payment you deserve.
Michigan’s No-Fault Law and Personal Injury Claims
While most states operate on a fault-based system that holds one driver responsible for all damages in a motor vehicle accident, Michigan uses a no-fault system. This means that both drivers turn to their own insurance companies to be compensated for their financial losses resulting from a car accident.
Although Michigan calls itself a no-fault state, that doesn’t mean nobody is held responsible for a car accident. When you get into a crash, the insurance companies will still designate an at-fault driver that they believe is responsible for the collision based on the police report.
This initial determination doesn’t prevent the at-fault driver from receiving an insurance payout for the damages to their car. However, it allows the not-at-fault driver to potentially file a claim against the at-fault driver for further damages.
What’s Covered Through My Insurance Claim?
Under Michigan law, all drivers are required to carry at least three forms of auto insurance:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage
- Property Protection coverage
- Bodily Injury/Property Damage (BI/PD) coverage
If you’re injured in a car accident, the two most important types of coverage are PIP and BI/PD coverage.
Your PIP coverage covers your medical expenses and lost wages resulting from the car accident. However, if your PIP coverage is insufficient or you suffer significant damages, you can file a claim against the other driver or their insurance to be compensated by their BI/PD coverage.
When Can I File a Claim for My Injuries After a Car Accident?
In many cases, your insurance coverage should take care of any financial losses you suffered due to the car accident. This prevents you from filing a lawsuit against the other driver for your injuries.
Additionally, since your insurance will only cover financial losses, you can only collect compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or property damage (if your insurance covers the damages). You can’t collect damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or loss of companionship.
However, a few exceptions allow you to file a lawsuit against the other driver. Michigan law allows you to file a claim against the other driver if:
- You were seriously injured
- You became permanently disabled or disfigured
- Your PIP benefits don’t cover the full cost of your damages
- The other driver isn’t insured in Michigan
- The accident occurred outside of Michigan
Should you file against the other driver, you can pursue economic damages, like medical bills and lost wages. You can also seek non-economic damages like PTSD, disfigurement, physical pain, decreased enjoyment of life, depression, and physical pain.
How Compensation is Awarded for Car Accident Injuries
While economic damages are determined based on a quantifiable dollar amount, non-economic damages must be determined through a calculation since they’re more subjective. To calculate your non-economic damages, your economic damages are added and multiplied by a value between 1.5 and 5.
Multipliers will vary depending on the seriousness and permanence of your injuries. For example, if you only experienced pain during your medical treatment, the court is more likely to use a lower multiplier than if you still experience severe or debilitating pain. Similarly, if you experience mild chronic pain, you might receive a lower settlement offer than if you experience moderate or severe chronic pain.
While there’s no guaranteed way to get a high multiplier, you will have a better chance if you can successfully convey the physical or mental pain you experience or have experienced to the court. Consider seeking the help of an experienced law firm to maximize the damages you deserve.
Proving Economic Damages
Some economic damages are relatively easy to prove. For instance, if you’re seeking compensation for your medical costs, providing copies of your medical bills and documentation of your treatment is sufficient. However, financial losses that don’t create bills can be more challenging to prove.
For example, you work an hourly job and must file a claim for lost wages. You will likely need to provide past pay stubs, W-2 forms, or tax returns to establish your typical hours and earnings. This can help prove the economic losses you suffered due to the injury.
How Can I Prove Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages cannot be quantified, so they’re more challenging to prove. While a skilled attorney can help you put together evidence specific to your case, you can provide a few pieces of evidence as proof of your damages.
Your medical records can provide proof of your non-economic damages. During the treatment process, medical professionals will ask about the pain or discomfort you’re experiencing and record this in your charts. Medications and prescriptions provided to you are also included in your medical records.
Mental Health Treatment Records
If your mental health has suffered due to the accident, you can provide records from your treatment to prove emotional damages. For instance, you might authorize your therapist to hand over notes from your therapy sessions or provide proof of your psychiatrist prescribing you medication for the treatment of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions that resulted from the accident.
Your Own Testimony
As the victim, you will likely provide testimony about the accident’s impact on your life. Depending on the damages you’re seeking, you might discuss activities that your injuries prevent you from participating in, the pain caused by your injury or disability, or the emotional aftermath of the accident.
Journal entries or recordings can help corroborate your testimony.
Friends, family members, and other people who know and interact with you can provide their own testimony about how the accident has visibly affected you. For example, a loved one can testify that you’ve stopped leaving the house due to overwhelming fear of car accidents or intense physical pain.
Or, they could testify that you were cheerful and upbeat before the accident, but the accident and subsequent disability have caused you such severe depression that you’ve stopped getting out of bed most mornings.
In some cases, medical professionals can provide witness testimony as well. For instance, one of the medical professionals you’ve worked with may testify that while you have improved since the accident, you will likely suffer from chronic pain for the rest of your life.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Maximize Your Settlement
While it’s possible to claim economic and non-economic damages after a car accident successfully, it’s much harder to do by yourself. A skilled auto accident attorney at our law firm can ensure you receive the settlement you’re owed.
We can help you determine what damages you can pursue, collect evidence of your damages, locate witnesses, and negotiate a fair settlement amount on your behalf.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.
If you’re considering filing a claim against the at-fault driver, Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can provide you with the legal representation you need to win your case.
With Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., you can rest assured that skilled lawyers handle your case. Our law firm has successfully settled many car accident claims, winning victims of car collisions high payouts. Additionally, our senior partner, Eileen Kroll, has extensive experience working in the medical field and can provide the court and opposing party with vital information about your injuries and prognosis.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
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.