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How to Determining Liability in a Michigan Car Crash


If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a car crash in Michigan, you will likely be overwhelmed with handling your recovery and healing and filing your no-fault insurance claim.

Because Michigan is a no-fault state, many car crash victims can get the financial support they need through their car insurance provider. However, auto accident victims with serious and catastrophic injuries are often not offered fair or adequate compensation to cover all their losses and have to pursue a civil lawsuit.

Determining liability and navigating the claims process in a car accident in Michigan is complex. Working with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is recommended to ensure you get a fair settlement for your injuries.

An experienced car accident lawyer knows what key evidence to gather to support your claim. They can investigate the accident, pursue a claim on your behalf, and guide you through the legal process.

The Basics of Comparative Fault

You must prove the driver’s liability before you submit your claim by demonstrating the following:

  • The driver owed a duty of care to drive responsibly
  • They failed to fulfill that duty through negligent behavior
  • You sustained injuries and damages as a result

The modified comparative negligence law in Michigan allows the jury to reduce damages based on the percentage of fault. If the court finds you liable for 10% of the accident, you receive 90% of the compensation.

You can claim compensation even if you are up to 50% at fault for the accident. However, as outlined in MCL section 600.2959, you are barred from recovering economic damages if your fault percentage exceeds 51% in an accident. You also do not receive any non-economic damages.

Can I File a Claim for Non-Economic Damages?

You must have a threshold injury to receive damages for your pain and suffering. To prove your threshold injury, you must demonstrate that you sustained a serious or permanent impairment of a vital body function. There must also be a significant change in your quality of life due to your injury.

With the help of your lawyer, you can pursue compensation from the negligent driver’s insurer. The evidence you submit should demonstrate the extent of your injuries and their effect on your life.

Evidence Needed to Prove Liability in a Car Crash

Our attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. use the following sources to determine who is at fault for the accident:

Police Report

A police report contains essential details about the other motorist’s negligence. This will help your lawyer petition the case with their insurance company. The report includes information for your lawyer to start investigating your case, such as:

  • Type of car collision
  • Insurance and contact information of all drivers
  • Diagram of the car’s positions in the accident
  • Any citations for traffic law violations
  • Officer’s opinion of fault in the accident
  • Statements from other witnesses, such as other drivers and pedestrians

The report can also include any field sobriety or breathalyzer tests. Your lawyer can use the test results to see if the driver was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time of the accident.

Witness Testimonies

A witness’s account of events can be valuable in proving liability. They may have witnessed the driver driving aggressively or texting before the crash. The attorney can interview all witnesses and ask them if they know other witnesses who saw the accident.

They can also ask the witnesses if they have additional records to support their testimony, such as smartphone video footage and photos.

Video Footage

Your lawyer might use surveillance videos obtained from local businesses to help prove that the other driver was responsible for causing an accident. Video footage can help show what happened before and after the collision. For instance, these cameras might show the negligent driver speeding through a school zone before they hit you.

If other drivers witnessed your accident, your lawyer can use the police report to locate them and find out if they have dashcam footage. Their dashcam videos can identify other drivers who may have caused the accident and contributed to your injuries.

Phone Records

If you suspect the other driver was distracted by their phone, your lawyer can look at their phone records. They can subpoena the other driver’s phone provider and find out if the driver was calling or sending text messages before the accident.

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What Other Evidence Can Establish Fault in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

If you sustained severe injuries after your accident, you could rely on your medical records and bills to prove them. Your auto accident lawyer can highlight the severity of your injuries and the treatments you need to recover.

Medical Records

Regardless of whether you have visible injuries, you must seek urgent medical attention following a vehicle accident to ensure that you receive proper medical care. Many injuries, like brain and spinal trauma, may not be immediately apparent, and without the correct documentation, you may be unable to file a claim.

The lawyer can ask for your medical records, such as:

  • Doctor’s diagnosis of your injuries
  • Surgeries and follow-up care
  • Medical test results such as MRIs and bloodwork
  • Documentation of hospital admissions and visits
  • Physical therapy notes and documentation
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for prescriptions and assistive devices

Your lawyer needs to obtain this information to reduce your liability in the accident. For instance, the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster may argue your injuries stemmed from a pre-existing condition. The medical records can show the accident caused your injuries and disprove that other health conditions are to blame.

Expert Medical Witness Testimony

Your lawyer may require an expert medical witness to evaluate your medical records and determine the severity and cause of your injuries. A medical expert witness may offer insight in court into how much pain and suffering, medical treatment, and rehabilitation may cost you.

Why Hire an Experienced Michigan Auto Accident Attorney

Our senior partner, Eileen Kroll, is trained as a registered nurse and can provide medical advice regarding your injury in a car crash. Her healthcare background allows Eileen to review your medical records and explain the treatments you may need, such as surgery and physical therapy, and their projected outcomes.

Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. has the resources and decades of experience to investigate your accident claim and determine liability for the accident. Our attorneys have a track record of helping clients recover damages:

  • $80,000 for a Bay City woman who sustained a broken leg from a car accident
  • $400,000 in excess of no-fault insurance benefits for a woman with a paraplegic injury
  • $3.3 million for an auto accident victim with a brain injury due to a defective roadway

Let an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Help You With Your Claim

If you or a loved one are involved in the accident, speak with the personal injury lawyers at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. We can help you understand your legal options in a free consultation.

We can help you get compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other associated costs through your no-fault auto insurance company. You do not have to prove fault for these claims.

Our law firm can also help you file a claim against the at-fault party in your accident. If successful, a civil lawsuit can alleviate your financial hardship and compensate you for the emotional and physical damages you have suffered.

In the unfortunate circumstances of losing a loved one, we can help you seek support for your loss by filing a wrongful death claim. This holds the person or parties responsible for covering your lost wages, funeral expenses, loss of inheritance, and other damages.

Because every case is unique and must be approached differently, our personal injury attorneys will assess the circumstances of your accident to determine liability in a complimentary consultation.

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.


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