How to File a Car Accident Claim in Michigan
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Many drivers know they must contact the police and get medical care for injuries after an automobile accident. They also have to report the accident to the insurance company. However, as an injured person, filing a claim for damages can become complex with the compensation you seek for your medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and non-economic damages.
Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you navigate the no-fault claims system in Michigan. Your personal injury lawyer can also negotiate on your behalf with the insurance companies for you to obtain fair compensation regarding your injury claims.
What Should I Do After a Michigan Auto Accident to File a Claim?
Before you file your personal injury claim for compensation, you need to collect essential documentation to support it. These pieces of evidence can help prove the severity of your injuries and the cause of your accident. Working with an auto accident attorney can help you assemble the necessary documentation to establish a strong case.
Pick Up Your Accident Report
When police officers arrive at the scene, they investigate the accident, interview all drivers and passengers involved, and inspect any vehicle damage. The police may have asked them for their testimonies if there were any witnesses. The police report contains the following:
- Date and time of the accident
- Each driver’s contact and insurance information
- Description, pictures, and diagrams of the accident, including where and how it happened between the cars
- Conditions of the road and the weather
- Statements from drivers and passengers
- Witness statements, if any
- Property damage and sustained auto accident injuries
- Any violations of traffic laws
- Officer’s conclusions about the crash, including who is the at-fault driver
The police officer can direct you to where you can pick up the police report for your insurance claim. If a Michigan State Police officer responded to your accident, you can visit the Traffic Crash Purchasing System and pay a fee to view your traffic accident report.
Save All Pictures and Videos from the Accident Scene
Although the police report usually contains a visual depiction of the accident, you may have taken photos and videos of the accident scene. Keep as many pictures and videos as possible, including close-ups of the damaged vehicles and wide-angles of the entire accident scene.
You can use these videos and pictures to explain what happened to your lawyer. They can show how the at-fault driver behaved during the incident and give your legal representation additional information to use in your accident lawsuit.
Request Your Medical Records
Your medical records can show your injuries resulted from the car accident and that you followed the treatment plan set by your primary care doctor. For example, if you suffered nerve damage, you can use your records to prove you did not have a pre-existing condition.
Additionally, closed head injuries often show no immediate outward signs of harm and may take days or weeks to manifest after an accident. If you suffer a closed head injury, your medical records can show the progression of your condition starting from the date of your accident.
These records can also give your lawyer an estimate of all the medical treatment costs and future treatments you may need, such as surgery and occupational rehabilitation.
Your legal team can find the following items in your medical records:
- Emergency room records
- Diagnostic test results, such as X-rays and MRIs
- Medical reports from other healthcare providers, including physical therapists, occupational medicine physicians, and psychologists
- Transportation costs of all your visits to your doctor
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses for prescriptions and assistive devices like wheelchairs
Save all your receipts and invoices from your medical visits, even for minor injuries. Your healthcare provider can provide you with a release for your medical records, so you can authorize your lawyer to pick them up on your behalf. Ask your provider what the authorization process entails to simplify access by third parties, such as lawyers, to your medical records.
Gather Proof of Income
If the car accident forced you to miss work, you should receive compensation for the loss of income. Make sure you gather all the evidence for your lawyer to prove what you would have earned had the accident not happened, such as:
- Paycheck stubs and W-2s
- Tax returns
- Letter from your employer detailing the amount of wages lost because of the accident
Your personal injury attorney can help you file an injury claim with your PIP insurance to get accident victim’s compensation for missed work. If your injuries meet the serious threshold in Michigan, you can also pursue a settlement for loss of enjoyment of life related to losing your ability to perform your previous job duties.
Obtain Vehicle Damage Estimates
Your lawyer will determine the appropriate amount of compensation based on the car’s pre-accident value and the estimate of the repairs. Make sure you keep all receipts for car repairs. If your car needs future repairs, ask the mechanic and the repair shop taking care of it for a repair estimate.
Understanding the Car Accident Claims Process in Michigan
Michigan is a no-fault state, meaning you can receive personal injury protection coverage regardless of liability in a motor vehicle accident. You must file your application for no-fault benefits with your auto insurance company within one year of the date of the accident. The no-fault insurance benefits cover your accident-related expenses, including medical bills, loss of wages, and household replacement services for up to $20 per day.
If your injuries are severe, you can receive in-home attendant care benefits for up to 56 hours per week if a household member, friend, or business associate is helping you. Insurance companies must provide additional coverage if you need more care beyond the time limit.
The following are the steps involved in the accident claim process of getting compensation.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Your experienced attorney can help you put together the pieces of evidence gathered to bolster your claim. In addition, they can check to ensure that your claim for compensation is within the policy limits based on the evidence you provide. For instance, if you need assistance with daily tasks, then your attorney can make sure you get attendant care benefits under your policy by collating your medical records and expenses.
The Claims Adjuster Investigates Your Claim
Upon receiving your claim, a claims adjuster will evaluate your insurance policy limits to determine the amount of compensation you need. They also review the evidence that came with your claim, including the police report and medical records, to connect your injuries and expenses to the accident. The adjuster may even request accident reconstruction experts to find out what happened in the motor vehicle collision.
You May Receive an Initial Settlement Offer
The insurance adjuster will offer an auto accident settlement for your economic losses after understanding the accident and nature of your injuries. There is a possibility that the settlement check may not cover all your future medical expenses. If you do not believe the amount of money is sufficient, consult your attorney for legal advice before accepting it.
Your Lawyer Can Negotiate With the Auto Insurer
If your claim is denied or the settlement is inadequate, your auto accident lawyer can request to enter negotiations with the insurance company. Your lawyer can persuade them of the full value of your auto accident claim by using evidence of your injuries and other proof.
If the insurance company refuses to pay your no-fault benefits, then you and your lawyer can take legal action for unpaid no-fault benefits.
What is Required to File a Michigan Non-Economic Damages Claim?
Filing this type of claim for pain and suffering requires proving your injury resulted from a negligent driver who is the at-fault party in the accident. It must be objectively evident that you have been injured. The injury is also a serious impairment of an important body function that restricts your ability to lead an everyday life.
You may also recover excess medical expenses and wages not covered under your insurance policy. If you are considering this claim, you can work with your lawyer to file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company for compensation. Your evidence can demonstrate the severity of your injuries, what type of treatment you received, and how your injuries have affected your life.
This claim must be filed within 3 years of the date of the accident.
Who Pays for Property Damage to My Vehicle?
If the vehicle damage is up to $3,000, your lawyer may recommend filing a claim for property damage against the other driver’s insurance company. This claim may only be filed if the driver was 50% or more at fault for the accident and if they have limited property damage liability in their insurance policy.
You can file a mini-tort lawsuit against the driver if the driver doesn’t have limited property damage liability. This lawsuit can start in small claims or municipal court, but either party can move the case to higher courts if necessary. A successful mini-tort lawsuit requires a police report, the cost of vehicle repairs, and video and photos showing that the other driver was at fault.
Contact a Michigan Car Accident Attorney Today
Filing a claim can be complicated if you have been involved in an auto accident in Michigan. A Michigan auto accident attorney at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can offer legal advice on the types of claims you can file for compensation. Our lawyers are dedicated to providing our clients with the best legal representation possible.
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.
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.