At-Fault in a Car Accident
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What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need When I’m At-Fault in a Car Accident?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Car crashes happen quickly and unexpectedly. It is not always easy to determine exactly who is to blame for the accident. Many factors come into play, and the actions of other parties may affect the outcome of a compensation claim. It’s important not to admit to fault too quickly and to seek the advice of an experienced car accident lawyer.

The specialist car accident lawyers at the law firm Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have the expertise and knowledge to evaluate your auto accident case and determine your level of fault for the collision. Once this has been ascertained, we can work to protect your legal rights and defend you against an accident lawsuit.

How Do You Prove Fault in a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim?

To prove another driver is to blame for a motor vehicle accident, the plaintiff must prove to the satisfaction of a court that:

  • It was the negligence of the at-fault driver that caused the collision
  • The plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the accident
  • The negligence of the at-fault driver caused the plaintiff’s injuries

Establishing these three elements can be difficult. Police reports may be vague, and witnesses’ evidence can contradict other established facts. Even a well-prepared plaintiff may trip themselves up while giving evidence.

Hire a Michigan auto accident lawyer to help gauge the strength of the other driver’s case. By exploiting these weaknesses in the plaintiff’s case, an experienced car accident may be able to successfully defend the claim and save you paying out thousands of dollars.

Do I Need a Lawyer in a No-Fault Accident Case?

If there are no injuries or they are minor, you may think you don’t need a lawyer in a no-fault accident case. It’s a common misconception that all you have to do is file a claim with your auto insurance company. Then under Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws, medical bills and attendant allowance are paid out.

However, even with this level of an accident, several issues have to be addressed; otherwise, you could be out of pocket. You need a lawyer who is well versed in this area of the law to ensure you keep up with procedural requirements and deadlines. These matters could include:

  • The application for no-fault insurance benefits must be filed within one year of the accident. If you miss this deadline, the victim loses the right to claim for medical bills and lost wages. This is important in ensuring that you file in time to be compensated if you have suffered damages.
  • Notice of an automobile crash within 30 days of the accident is a common requirement with many insurance policies. If this notice isn’t given to the other driver’s insurance company, they will void their insurance coverage due to failure to comply with the notice requirement.
  • This may have catastrophic implications for you. The accident victim will have no other recourse than to recover compensation for pain and suffering, excess medical expenses, and lost wages from you. An experienced attorney will ensure that notice is given within the deadline.

What Happens if There is Property Damage?

If there was some damage to the other driver’s car, they may pursue the at-fault driver through Michigan mini-tort. This is a fairly inexpensive way of settling small disputes. MCL 500.3135 (3)(c)(e) provides that damages to motor vehicles may be recovered up to a limit of $3,000. This type of claim doesn’t always require the help of a lawyer, but you can still book a consultation if you’re unsure how to proceed.

What Do I Do if the Other Driver Files a Lawsuit for Non-Economic Loss?

Under the no-fault insurance law, the accident victim gives up their right to sue the at-fault-driver in return for insurance benefits decided upon by the state. However, the accident victim may be able to sue you for non-economic damages if they have suffered serious injuries in certain circumstances.

This exception is tightly regulated. To file a lawsuit against you, the injured driver involved must prove their injuries are all within the definition of MCL 500.3135. This section provides that the at-fault driver may be liable for the other party’s non-economic losses if their actions caused the accident victim’s wrongful death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of bodily function.

Non-economic losses are defined as:

  • Wrongful death claim
  • Body impairment
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Mental trauma
  • Pain and suffering

This is a complicated area of the law. The accident victim has to prove their injuries pass the MCL 500.3135 threshold test.

You should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect yourself from being unfairly sued. You don’t want to pay out compensation for which you are not liable under the law.

at fault in a car accident

Can the Other Driver Claim Economic Losses from Me?

In certain circumstances, the other driver may sue the at-fault driver for excess economic loss compensation. This compensation would cover past, present, and future expenses not covered by PIP benefits through the no-fault insurance law.

These expenses might include:

  • Medical bills above the no-fault medical expense coverage
  • Lost wages above the no-fault work loss benefits

These expenses are not subject to the same threshold test as non-economic losses. This means that a plaintiff may pursue a claim for these losses even if their injuries do not reach the permanent serious disfigurement or serious body impairment standard.

You, therefore, need an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side to ensure that the expenses claimed are legitimate. From years of experience, an attorney will know if a plaintiff’s claim for damages is justified.

Will Michigan’s Comparative Negligence Law Help Me?

Michigan has a comparative negligence law, which means a partially responsible plaintiff will have their damages reduced by the percentage they are to blame. Even if you’re at fault for the accident, you may not bear 100% of the blame, and Michigan law takes this into consideration.

For example, a plaintiff may be awarded $100,000 in damages for their losses. However, if the court finds them to be 25% to blame, their damages are reduced to $75,000. Having a lawyer with the expertise to use this law effectively can substantially reduce the amount you might have to payout.

A skilled attorney could put this law to use to get you compensation for the crash, even if you were at fault. Through the comparative negligence law, you may have a claim against the other driver as long as you are not more than 50% to blame for the accident.

An experienced car accident attorney can help you determine the likelihood of you filing a claim under these provisions and safeguarding your legal rights.

Consult a Car Accident Lawyer if You Are At-Fault

Michigan’s law surrounding car accidents is complex and has many factual and procedural traps for the unwary. You should seek legal advice as soon after the accident as possible so that a lawyer well-versed in this practice area can help protect your rights.

The personal injury attorneys at the law firm Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. have the expertise to help you gather evidence and protect yourself from a lawsuit. We will aim to reduce any damages you may have to pay as much as possible. Consult one of our experienced car accident attorneys today.

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 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.

Thomas has a law degree from the University of Nottingham. He practiced law for 20 years before working in Dubai in the financial sector for 3 years. He now writes on financial and legal topics.



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