Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Car Accident in Michigan?
Under the Michigan no-fault law, your own auto insurance company pays for medical bills and expenses related to car accident treatment following a Sterling Heights car crash. The amount the auto insurance carrier must pay depends upon the amount of no-fault PIP coverage that was purchased. Most policies have at least $250,000 in PIP coverage.
But what if you do not have auto insurance? So long as you are not occupying your own uninsured car or truck, you are still eligible and a car insurance company must pay your auto-related medical bills. This is called the “order of priority” and it is important to understand.
Under the new Michigan law, if you do not have car insurance, then you turn to the car insurance of a resident relative for the payment of medical expenses. For example, if you live with your uncle and your uncle has car insurance through State Farm, then State Farm must pay your medical bills from the accident. This is true even if you are not on the insurance policy.
If you do not live with a relative, or there is no insurance in the household, then you must turn to the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP) for the payment of no-fault benefits. The MACP, which is an organization run and managed by the insurance industry, will then assign your claim to a participating insurer, like Allstate or Farm Bureau. MACP insurers must pay for medical expenses up to a $250,000 cap.
It is important to contact an experience Sterling Heights car accident lawyer to ensure you are applying for no-fault benefits from the correct carrier and to getting all the benefits owed to you following a crash.
What is the Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit Following a Sterling Heights Car Accident?
There is a certain time limit under Michigan law for filing a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation following a car accident. This is called the statute of limitations. In Michigan, the statute of limitations is three (3) years from the date of the crash. In other words, you have three years to file a lawsuit against the correct defendants. If you wait too long and fail to file a lawsuit, you forever lose your right to obtain compensation from that defendant.
There are special rules for minors and cases for wrongful death which can extend the normal three-year rule.
The statute of limitations for Michigan no-fault PIP benefits that arise from a Sterling Heights car crash is different. In a PIP claim, you have one year from the date a benefit is incurred to file a lawsuit. If the benefit, such as lost wages or a medical bill is incurred, and more than one-year passes, you can lose your ability to recoup that benefit. However, the law in Michigan has changed and it is now possible to obtain benefits that are older than a year.
The statute of limitations for car accident cases in Sterling Heights is especially important. Talk to an experienced Sterling Heights auto accident lawyer so you can find out your rights and to see if you still have time.
Why Should I Hire A Sterling Heights Car Accident Lawyer?
There are lots of things going on after a car accident in Sterling Heights. There is the process of getting the car repaired, paying for collision costs, getting medical treatment, and losing out on wages. Then there is the potential for more medical treatment and more medical bills. The process can be overwhelming at times. Combine these emotions with a car insurance company and insurance adjusters who are trained to do what is best for the company, and not necessarily their customers, and you have a situation that creates long-term problems.
A Sterling Heights car accident lawyer can help take the pressure of you and instead make the insurance company work for you. In addition, a skilled lawyer will ensure you receive compensation for your injuries so that you don’t get stuck with medical bills and get lost wages paid.
The lawyers at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. are experts in Sterling Heights car wreck cases. Every day we help our Macomb County clients obtain much-needed no-fault benefits, such as lost wages, and get large hospital and doctor’s bills paid. We force insurance companies to hold up their end of the bargain, by forcefully deploying our resources and making sure car insurance companies do as they are required under the law.
What Should I Do After a Sterling Heights Car Accident?
A car accident is a traumatic and sometimes life-changing event. At the time, the adrenaline is running and there a lot of things running through your mind. However, it is important to do the following things to protect yourself and ensure a proper claim can be made for compensation.
Exchange Information – Just like we are taught in Driver’s Education, following a Sterling Heights car accident it is vital to exchange with all other drivers involved in the crash. This includes the full name and telephone number. Takedown the license plate numbers of the vehicles as well.
Call the Police – This is so important. Following a crash, it is your obligation under the law to call the police. Make sure everyone stays until the police arrive. Upon the arrival of law enforcement, make sure you tell them your side of the story so it is included in the traffic crash report the responding officer will prepare.
If for some reason the police do not respond, go to the nearest police station and make a report. The main police station in Sterling Heights is located at 40333 Dodge Park Road, which is off of Utica Road between 17 Mile and 18 Mile Roads. It is important to make the police report as quickly after the crash as possible. Many insurance policies require a police report to be made within 24 hours of the crash, or the accident victim can lose his or her rights to certain compensation and benefits.
If you were not able to talk to the police because you were taken away by ambulance, or too injured to talk, make sure you follow up with the police as soon as practicable following the crash.
Take Photographs – By just using your smartphone, you can take photographs that can be important in the future. Make sure to photograph not only the damage to your vehicle but the other vehicles as well. This may be the only time you ever observe the other vehicles involved in the crash. If they have significant damage, you will want to highlight this. This is especially true if there is minimal damage to your car.
Take pictures of the accident scene too. This includes where the cars ended up, the weather conditions, lighting conditions, and other information you believe will be important.
Seek Medical Treatment – It is important to see a doctor or hospital following a Sterling Heights car accident. Even if you feel you were not injured, there could be internal bleeding or other hidden dangers that can become suddenly life-threatening. A doctor can rule out possible dangers and make sure everything is fine. Henry Ford Macomb Hospital on 19 Mile Road is a clinic that can treat you following a motor vehicle crash.
What Compensation Can I Get From a Sterling Heights Car Accident?
A person injured in a Sterling Heights car accident can obtain two forms of compensation, “economic” and “non-economic” damages.
Non-economic damages refer to compensation for the pain and suffering one endures following a Sterling Heights car crash. Under the law, the owner and driver of the at-fault vehicle is responsible for paying for the injuries he or she causes, so long as they are at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident. This is called a negligence claim. The auto insurance carrier for the at-fault parties pays these damages.
Examples of non-economic damages an injured person can collect include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of society and loss of companionship;
- Depression and anxiety;
- Loss of quality of life; and
- Mental suffering
Michigan is a no-fault state. This means you can obtain benefits from a car insurance company for injuries caused by an accident, even if you are at-fault. These benefits are also available to those not injured while in a car, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle riders.
Michigan no-fault benefits following a Sterling Heights car accident are paid for by the applicable car insurance carrier. The Sterling Heights car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. can help you determine which company is responsible for these payments.
The no-fault benefits available to persons injured in a car or truck accident include:
- Medical Expenses – this includes hospital bills, doctor’s bills, rehabilitation expenses, surgical bills, prescriptions, out-of-pocket costs as well as other medical expenses that health insurance is not responsible for paying.
- Lost Wages – 85% of lost wages for up to 3 years from the date of the crash. This includes self-employed individuals or those who are paid under the table.
- Replacement Services – Family members or friends who have completed household chores, such as laundry, cooking, and other household chores.
With the change in the Michigan no-fault law, which now has caps on PIP (personal injury protection) coverage, at-fault drivers and owners are also responsible for medical bills, lost wages and other benefits not covered by the PIP no-fault carrier.
What Are Common Causes of Sterling Heights Car Accidents?
Car accidents and truck accidents in Sterling Heights can occur for any number of reasons. Macomb County has some of the busiest freeways, streets and city roads in the entire state. This creates an opportunity for serious crashes. The most common causes for these accidents include:
- Rear-end accidents;
- Head-on collisions;
- Hit-and-run accidents;
- Failure to yield;
- Running a red light;
- Drunk driving;
- T-bone collisions;
- Wrong-way collisions;
- Texting and driving;
Can I Get Compensation If the Other Driver Is Uninsured in Sterling Heights?
Very often, the other driver who causes the car accident is not insured. This is all too prevalent in Sterling Heights and metro Detroit in general. What happens in this situation? Is it still possible to get compensation? The answer is yes if: (1) you have car insurance with uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, (2) you are covered under a family policy that has uninsured motorist coverage, or (3) the vehicle you occupied in the accident maintains uninsured motorist coverage.
What are uninsured motorist benefits? Uninsured motorist benefits are a form of insurance coverage sold to policyholders that protect the policyholders, their family members and even passengers when an uninsured driver or vehicle causes a crash. By turning to your own car insurance, or the auto insurance of the vehicle you occupied, you can still obtain compensation for your injuries even when the negligent car has no insurance.
Uninsured motorist benefits provide a way to obtain pain and suffering compensation following a crash. In some situations, it will pay for past medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses. This claim is similar to a regular negligence claim and a part of many Sterling Heights car accident cases.
UM coverage is not mandatory and so not every insurance policy has it. However, given the high number of motorists in Sterling Heights and Macomb County without mandatory auto insurance coverage, every person who drives a car or truck should purchases UM coverage. It is relatively inexpensive and comes in handy when a crash occurs.
What Should I Tell The Insurance Adjuster After the Accident?
Following a Sterling Heights car accident, it is important to contact your auto insurance company following the crash. The insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster, or claims representative, to handle your claim.
There may be a few different insurance adjusters assigned to handle the accident. This is because an auto accident can involve a few different types of coverages. For example, one adjuster may be handling the “property claim”, or the vehicle damage caused by the crash. Another adjuster is the “medical adjuster”, and their job is still to pay Michigan no-fault benefits, such as the payment of medical expenses and lost wages following an accident.
An addition, an auto insurance adjuster from a different insurance company may also be calling you. This adjuster may be the “liability” adjuster, and this adjuster helps to assess whether to pay – or not pay – compensation for the pain and suffering their policyholder or driver caused.
With so many people contacting you, it can get confusing really fast. What should you do in these situations?
First, it is important to be careful. These insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions to minimize your claim. When you speak to them, find out immediately what they are calling about. In other words, find out if the adjuster is the “medical adjuster” or the “property adjuster” or someone else. That way you can get a better handle of what they are trying to find out and why.
The property adjuster doesn’t care to much about your injuries. They tend to focus more on the damage and how to get the car repaired. On the other hand, the medical adjuster doesn’t care much about how the car will get fixed, but cares greatly about your medical treatment, injuries, employment and additional treatment you may require in the future.
After you find out who you are talking to, make sure you explain the severity of the crash and the pain you are experiencing. Don’t hold back. Now is not the time to downplay the accident because you can bet the insurance adjuster will do that already. If you are hurt, tell them you are hurt and why you believe you need to see a doctor. By providing that information early on, you are giving yourself a break for later on.
Make sure you get the full name of each adjuster you are speaking with, as well as the claim number. In addition, you do have a duty to provide basic information to your own insurance carrier about how the crash occurred, as well as your injuries and treatment.
If a liability adjuster calls from the other person’s car insurance, I would not speak to this adjuster. These adjusters are looking for any way to downplay your injuries so they don’t have to pay a settlement. They are also trying to build a liability defense and may use your words against you in the future.
In addition, it is important to never sign any paperwork the insurance adjuster sends to you without first consulting with a lawyer. Even the most mundane document could be an attempt by the insurance company to get out of paying anything in the future, whether it is future medical treatment or pain and suffering compensation.
What Are Common Injuries from Sterling Heights Car Accidents?
Because of the busy traffic conditions in Sterling Heights and surrounding communities in Macomb County, the car and truck crashes that occur can be very severe. This is especially the case with heavy traffic on Van Dyke, Dequindre, Mound Rd. and Schoenherr as commuters and other drivers rush to get to their destinations. Some of the more common injuries resulting from car wrecks in Sterling Heights include:
- Herniated and bulging discs in the back and neck;
- Broken bones and torn ligaments;
- Traumatic brain injury, also known as closed head injury;
- Whiplash, including low back and neck pain;
- Injuries to the joints, including shoulder (torn rotator cuff) or knee (torn meniscus, ACL);
- Fractured hip or pelvis; and
- Scarring and disfigurement
The severity and duration of these injuries can vary. Some resolve within a short time frame. Others can be permanent and lifelong. The Sterling Heights car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. are experts in explaining to the insurance company, the judge, and the jury how injuries impact the injured person and their family.
Sterling Heights Car Accident Injury Lawyers for Wrongful Death
The Michigan wrongful death act covers car and truck accidents that involve a fatal injury to the driver or passenger. These cases are very specific and require the skill and precision of an aggressive yet compassionate car accident attorney. Not only can the family obtain the lost wages the deceased was going to earn in the future, but these cases also include compensation for the pain and suffering preceding the death, loss of companionship, loss of society, and other damages.
Before a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed, an estate must be set up in Macomb County court. To do this, a personal representative (PR) for the Estate must be appointed. Typically, family members will agree on a personal representative. The personal representative will file paperwork with the probate court in Macomb County to allow this person to act as the PR. The personal representative acts as the quarterback for the Estate and makes the decisions on how the case will proceed. However, family members in addition to the personal representative are entitled to compensation from the wrongful death case.
Wrongful death cases from a car or truck crash in Sterling Heights usually a involve a thorough investigation by local enforcement, such as the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police.
The investigating officers will take analyze the accident scene, take necessary measurements, conduct field sobriety tests and blood tests, interview witnesses, take photographs and bring in accident reconstruction experts to evaluate why and how the crash occurred.
An experienced law firm that has handled a lot of wrongful death lawsuits in Macomb county, including Sterling Heights car accident fatalities, will also begin an investigation into the accident immediately. This investigation will include hiring an accident reconstructionist to prove why the at-fault driver caused the crash and how he or she caused the crash. The investigation will also include talking to witnesses to establish liability and to demonstrate the pain and suffering the deceased endured.
In addition, if the deceased person had a dependent, such as a spouse or a child under the age of 18 years-old, the surviving family members may file a claim for Survivor’s Loss benefits from the no-fault car insurance company responsible for paying PIP benefits. The benefits from these claims include 3 years of lost wages, replacement services for 3 years, and other potential income losses.
How Much Is My Car Accident Case Worth?
Determining the value of a car crash in Sterling Heights is not easy. There is no formula or chart a judge or jury can utilize to determine how much money a person gets following a crash for their injuries. However, there are certain factors juries and insurance companies use when determining a proper amount for compensation.
The most important factor are injuries. A person who broke their leg and required surgery typically has a case that is more valuable than a person who injured their low back but only required some chiropractic visits and pain medication. Still, everyone is different and under the law, the defendant must “take the plaintiff as they find them.” This means if a person was more susceptible to injury because of age or pre-existing conditions, he or she is still entitled to compensation.
Another important factor is insurance. Except in very rare situations, auto insurance companies are only on the hook to pay the value of the insurance policy. So if an at-fault negligent driver caused a massive crash resulting in catastrophic injuries, and this driver only maintained the state minimum of $50,000 in bodily injury (BI) coverage, that is all the auto carrier has to pay for that claim.
Other factors that are important is the jurisdiction and the plaintiff filing the claim. The value of a case in metro Detroit tends to be higher than the value of a case in more rural areas, although again this is not always the case. The reason for this is juries in more urban and suburban areas tend to give higher awards.
Last, the plaintiff matters too. This may be the most important factor. Insurance companies, judges, and juries will size up the plaintiff filing the lawsuit. If the plaintiff comes across as rude, belligerent, and just not likable, that can significantly decrease the value of a case. On the other hand, if the plaintiff is warm and likable, then the value of the case increases. Remember, juries want to give money to people they like.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Sterling Heights Lawyer?
At the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. there is never a charge for attorney fees or costs unless we win your case, whether by settlement or through a jury verdict. This is known as a contingency fee agreement and this is guaranteed.
At the outset of our representation, we will send you a copy of the fee agreement so you can have it for your records. The amount of our fee is 33 1/3% of the total recovery, after costs. This is the standard charge for personal injury attorneys as set forth by Michigan law. The attorney fee and costs are never charged to our client until we have the settlement check in hand.
It is our policy to constantly meet with our clients and to keep them informed. We are always just a phone call or email away.
Macomb County Car Accident Statistics
Macomb County is the one of the busiest counties for motorists in Michigan.
The county has a major interstate in I-94. Multiple state roadways traverse through the county as well, including Gratiot Avenue, Van Dyke Avenue, M59, 8 Mile Road and Groesbeck Hwy. I-696 bisects the county.
In 2018, Macomb County reported 25,784 crashes resulting in 7,360 injuries and 53 fatalities. These figures were the most of any county in Michigan. Some other statistics related to accidents in Macomb County include:
- Alcohol related accidents – 737 crashes, resulting in 273 injuries and 18 fatalities.
- Bicycle accidents – 138 crashes resulting in 114 injuries.
- Construction zone accidents –948 crashes resulting in 198 injuries.
- Distracted driving – 2,003 crashes were from distracted driving, which caused 813 injuries.
- Drug related accidents – 208 crashes, resulting in 144 injuries and 15 fatalities.
- Motorcycle accidents – 204 crashes, resulting in 170 injuries and 9 fatalities.
- Pedestrian accidents – 176 crashes, resulting in 164 injuries and 15 fatalities.
- Truck or bus accidents – 1,284 crashes, resulting in 280 injuries and 5 fatalities.
Dangerous Streets in Sterling Heights:
- Van Dyke
- Mound Rd.
- Hoover Rd.
- Schoenherr Rd.
- Metro Parkway
- 15 Mile, 17 Mile, 18 Mile Road
Sterling Heights Medical Facilities:
Henry Ford Hospital – Sterling Heights
3500 15 Mile Rd
Sterling Heights, MI 48310
Macomb Medical Clinic
2405 E 14 Mile Rd.
Sterling Heights, MI 48310
Ascension St. John Hospital
17700 23 Mile Rd.
Macomb, MI 48044
Sterling Medical Group
13409 E. 14 Mile Rd.
Sterling Heights, MI 48312
Henry Ford Macomb Hospital
15855 19 Mile Rd.
Sterling Heights, MI 48038
Macomb Physicians Group
8244 Metro Pkwy C.
Sterling Heights, MI 48312
Henry Ford Macomb Health Center
15717 15 Mile Rd.
Sterling Heights, MI 48035
McLaren – Mt. Clemens
1000 Harrington St.
Mt. Clemens, MI 48043
Important Sterling Heights Car Accident Contacts and Emergency Information:
Sterling Heights Police Department
40333 Dodge Park Rd
Sterling Heights, MI 48313
Sterling Heights – City Hall
40555 Utica Rd.
Sterling Heights, MI 48311
Clinton Twp. Police Department
37985 S Groesbeck Hwy.
Clinton Twp., MI 48036
Macomb County Sheriff’s Office
43565 Elizabeth Rd.
Mt. Clements, MI 48043
Sterling Heights – Building Department
40555 Utica Rd.
Sterling Heights, MI 48311
Warren Police Department
29900 S Civic Center Blvd
Warren, MI 48093
41A District Court
40111 Dodge Park Rd
Sterling Heights, MI 48313
41B District Court
22380 Starks Dr.
Clinton Twp., MI 48036
37th District Court
8300 Common Rd.
Warren, MI 48093
Sterling Heights Car Accident Lawyers You Can Trust
The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. have aggressively represented clients involved in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents in Sterling Heights and metro Detroit for over 45 years. Our compassionate and skillful team of Sterling Heights auto accident lawyers and legal professionals work hand-in-hand with our clients to achieve the most favorable results for them.
It is our commitment to our clients that sets us apart. We have a representation of honesty and integrity throughout the profession. Please call us toll-free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation. And as part of our Lee Free Guarantee, we never charge a fee until we win your case.