Get a Higher Settlement for Multiple Injuries in a Car Accident
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Recklessness on the road can have devastating effects. Victims of negligence-driven car accidents may suffer multiple injuries that take extensive time to heal and are expensive to treat. If you have received multiple injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to file a claim against the responsible driver.
When a car accident causes multiple injuries, your car accident settlement can be a significant source of financial restitution. Learn how the attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you use multiple injuries to multiply your settlement.
Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Law
Michigan is a no-fault insurance state. Therefore, all drivers must carry three types of insurance: Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Property Protection, and Bodily Injury and Property Damage (BI/PD). If you are injured in a car accident, you will file a claim with your own auto insurance company, and your PIP insurance will pay for medical treatment for your injuries.
In most cases, you can only file a PIP claim with your insurance company to recover compensation for your medical expenses. However, if you have suffered significant damages due to the other driver’s negligence, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Since this compensation is recovered through their Bodily Injury liability insurance, this allows you to seek compensation for other damages, like pain and suffering.
You have the right to file a claim if:
- The accident left you disabled or severely disfigured
- A loved one died due to the accident
- You do not have unlimited PIP coverage, and your medical expenses and lost wages exceed your maximum coverage
- The other driver is not insured
- The accident occurred in another state
Can I Get a Higher Settlement if I Have Multiple Injuries?
Your basic ability to obtain a higher settlement depends on the severity of your injuries rather than the number. However, in practice, both the number and severity of your injuries can influence your settlement amount.
Minimum Requirements for Filing Against the Driver
Section 500.3135 of the Michigan Insurance Code states that to file a claim against the other driver; you must have experienced “serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” A serious impairment of function is defined as an injury that:
- Can be seen by, or has effects visible to, another person
- Impairs “a body function of great value, significance, or consequence” to you
- Interferes with your ability to live your day-to-day life
The law does not require the impairment to be lifelong, nor does it state that it must be a single injury. When determining if you are significantly impaired by your injuries, the court will assess your lifestyle prior to the accident and the impact of your injuries on that lifestyle.
If your injuries are sufficient to cause disability, you may be able to file a claim against the other driver, regardless of how severe the injuries are. For example, you may be able to recover compensation if you have received:
- Two or more minor injuries that, when combined, cause disability. For example, you fracture your arm and leg in a car accident, which prevents you from working, caring for yourself, or taking care of your children.
- One severe injury that causes disability and one or more minor injuries. For instance, your leg is crushed in the accident and must be amputated. Additionally, you suffer minor wounds or fractures that are not disabling.
- Two or more severe injuries that cause disability. For example, you suffer a spinal cord injury that leaves you partially paralyzed and a traumatic brain injury that impairs your memory.
How Multiple Injuries Impact Your Settlement
In a personal injury settlement, your settlement consists of economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are intended to compensate you for the financial losses you sustained and are calculated based on your expenses and lost earnings.
Non-economic damages are based on subjective experiences, so their value is determined by multiplying your economic damages by a variable between 1.5 and 5. This variable is typically determined based on the severity, permanence, and impact of your physical and emotional injuries.
Accidents involving more serious damages will typically receive a higher variable. For instance, if you have broken your arm and leg, your injuries will typically heal without complications, so your damages may be multiplied by 1.5. If you suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, have developed chronic pain, and lost a loved one in the accident, your multiplier will be much higher.
Accurately capturing a subjective experience can be challenging. The auto accident lawyers at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you testify about the pain and suffering the accident has caused you and assist you in obtaining the highest multiplier possible.
Damages That Will Increase Your Settlement
In a car accident case, you have many avenues to recover compensation. When you file a claim against the other driver, your attorney can help you seek economic and non-economic damages from the other driver that will significantly raise your settlement amount.
Typically, PIP insurance covers the cost of all accident-related medical treatment for the rest of your life. However, you are only covered up to your plan’s limits if you do not have unlimited PIP coverage. Your medical treatment may not be fully covered, and injuries resulting in disability (such as spinal cord injuries or TBIs) may require long-term care.
Additionally, some benefits under PIP insurance have limited coverage, regardless of your plan limits. For example, you have limited coverage for hiring a medical assistant, even if you have unlimited PIP coverage.
When filing against the at-fault driver, you may seek compensation for previous and future medical expenses. To ensure that you recover appropriate compensation for your injuries, consult a car accident attorney familiar with medical matters, like Eileen Kroll at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. A nurse attorney knows the cost of care required for car accident victims and can help you recover what you’re owed.
You will likely be unable to work when you have been seriously injured in a car accident. PIP insurance will compensate lost wages for up to three years. If you still cannot work after three years, you may seek to recover lost income from the at-fault driver.
Your attorney can help you calculate your lost wages and recover income you were unable to earn. They can also help you recover unearned wages if you have become permanently disabled and are unable to return to your previous job.
While cars are considered property, the mandatory Property Protection insurance only covers parked vehicles. If your insurance does not cover damage to your car, Michigan’s “mini-tort” law allows you to file directly against the other driver to recover up to $3,000 in damages. Filing for damages to your vehicle can help you obtain a higher settlement.
Pain and Suffering
Injuries from a car accident can cause severe physical and mental pain. Many victims are unable to focus on much beyond recovery and cannot engage in activities they enjoy, leading to depression. Some may develop post-traumatic stress disorder after the accident and no longer feel safe inside a vehicle.
Many car accident victims work with a car accident lawyer to recover damages for these physical and mental injuries. If the accident has significantly reduced your quality of life and left significant emotional wounds, compensation for pain and suffering can make up a significant portion of your settlement.
How to Maximize Your Settlement
When you have received multiple injuries in a car accident, you likely don’t want to make a mistake that will cost you your settlement. Following the proper procedures after an accident and working with the attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. will ensure that you earn the highest possible payout.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Call 911 at the scene of the accident or visit a medical professional after filing a report with police. Quickly receiving medical treatment can minimize the long-term impact of your injuries and establishes an ongoing treatment record.
Waiting to seek medical attention can significantly reduce your settlement. While some injuries (such as whiplash) may remain dormant for hours or days after the collision, the other driver’s attorney can use this delay in treatment to argue that you are faking or exaggerating your injuries.
Document Your Damages
After the accident, you will need proof of your financial damages to recover compensation from your insurance company. Additionally, when you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance, you will need to provide evidence of your damages.
- Photograph or film physical injuries and damage to your property
- Save all expenses resulting from the accident, including medical bills and costs to adapt your home or vehicle
- Calculate and document your unearned wages
Thoroughly documenting your damages will help you build a stronger case. Your attorney can help you collect relevant documentation that will support your claim.
File a No-Fault Claim with Your Insurance
You must file a PIP claim with your own auto insurance provider within 30 days of the accident. When filing your claim, provide your insurer with:
- The date and approximate time of the accident
- The other driver’s insurance information
- A copy of the police report
- A description of injuries and damages resulting from the accident
- Evidence of your financial losses
Accept any compensation that your insurance company offers you. If you reject compensation, you may be unable to file against the other driver later.
Collect Evidence of Fault
To recover damages in a car accident case, you must prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident. However, depending on the case, you may be limited to dashcam footage and testimony of anyone in the car.
You may want to seek the help of a car accident attorney, who can recover evidence you cannot. Your attorney can seek testimony from pedestrians who were witnesses to the accident or recover security footage displaying the accident.
Don’t Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance
Since Michigan is a no-fault state, both drivers receive PIP coverage regardless of which driver is at fault. You do not need to communicate with the other driver’s insurance to file your PIP claim.
The other driver’s insurance company may contact you, asking for a statement or requesting that you sign paperwork. However, statements can be used against you to argue that you are at fault for the accident, and the paperwork often contains a clause preventing you from filing a claim against the other driver. Both can prevent you from recovering compensation.
Any communication with the other driver’s insurance company should be handled by a skilled car accident attorney. Your attorney can prevent you from falling victim to questionable tactics, enabling them to negotiate an appropriate settlement later.
Document Your Experiences and Emotions
Your physical and emotional pain records will support your claim for non-economic damages. Use a journal or video/audio recording device to describe the pain you feel or share the emotions you experience as a result of the accident.
When you work with the attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we will use these records to help you testify about the pain you have experienced.
Communicate with Friends and Loved Ones
Your loved ones can be a valuable source of emotional support and testimony following the accident. If they witness the accident’s impact on your life, they can share what they have seen with the courts.
For example, your spouse can testify that you have become fearful of being in a car since the accident and that you cry or have panic attacks when they drive you to medical appointments.
Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Most people struggle to recover an appropriate car accident settlement. Many do not know what a fair settlement looks like, and some people make mistakes when filing their claim that can jeopardize their settlement. Seeking the help of an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer will increase the likelihood that you will obtain an appropriate settlement.
The car accident attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. will assist you through every step of the claims process. Our attorneys will assess the facts of your case, obtain evidence to use in your claim, and negotiate an appropriate settlement with the other driver’s insurance company.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.
When recovering from multiple accident-induced injuries, the thought of independently filing a lawsuit can be overwhelming. The lawyers at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you obtain fair compensation for your damages. Our legal team has significant experience representing victims of vehicle accidents and will fight to get the settlement offer you deserve.
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 (1-866-642-4529) 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.