The law for suing for pain and suffering from a car accident is complicated. Car accidents in Michigan fall under the Michigan no-fault law, which is actually a series of laws that address the types benefits claimants are entitled to, which insurance carrier is responsible for paying no-fault benefits and how long a claimant can receive certain benefits.
However, the Michigan no-fault law also addresses when an injured car accident victim can receive pain and suffering compensation for his or her injuries.
Under the law, to receive pain and suffering compensation, the accident victim must prove four basic elements:
First, the victim has to prove another motorist was at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident. If the other motorist was at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident, the victim can proceed with a claim. However, if the victim is more than 50% at-fault for causing an accident, the victim cannot obtain pain and suffering compensation.
Deciding the percentage of fault for a car accident is a question of fact and almost always decided by a jury.
Second, the accident victim must demonstrate he or she was injured in the car accident. Without injuries that are clearly documented by hospital and doctors notes, it is extremely difficult to prove why the victim is entitled to pain and suffering compensation.
Third, the accident victim must show the injuries he or she sustained are from the car accident and not something else. Insurance companies love to try and related injuries to pre-accident medical conditions. It is important treating doctors relate the underlying injuries and limitations to the car accident and they are clearly stated in the medical records.
Last, under Michigan law, the accident victim must have sustained a certain type of injury. Section 500.3135(1) of the no-fault law says an injured person can only receive non-economic compensation “if the injured person has suffered death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.” Death, serious impairment of body function and permanent serious disfigurement are known as “threshold injuries.” Under Michigan law, if you do not have a “threshold injury” you cannot receive pain and suffering compensation.
The most common threshold injury is “serious impairment of body function.” This type of case involves all car accidents that do not involve death or permanent serious disfigurement (loss of limbs, horrible scarring).
Serious impairment of body function is actually defined in the Michigan no-fault law as “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead a normal life.” To receive pain and suffering compensation for the car accident, you must prove that you meet this definition.
Proving you have a serious impairment of body function, and therefore a threshold injury, is not easy. There is no specific guideline on when a person meets the standard and when he or she does not. Judges, juries and insurance companies look at a host of different things when evaluating whether or not the injured person has sustained a serious impairment of body function from the car accident. These factors include (1) how much work loss occurred due to the car accident, (2) the types of restrictions the injured person is under, (3) what recreational activities can the injured person not take part in anymore, (4) what household chores does the injured person need help with or cannot do at all since the car accident, and (5) what permanent limitations or restrictions will the injured person have in the future.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a Michigan car accident, Michigan truck accident or a Michigan motorcycle accident, it is important to call the Michigan car accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. Our experienced team of Michigan car accident attorneys can answer your questions and will fight for you every step of the way.
We know how to present your case in the best light possible to ensure you receive the pain and suffering compensation you deserve. Please contact us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) today.