Clinton County Auto Accident Injury Lawyers
Car accidents can be minor or they can also be life changing events. What starts out as a fender-bender or rear-end collision that doesn’t seem like much can turn into painful injuries, lost wages, and huge medical expenses.
Under Michigan law, drivers in Clinton County are protected by the Michigan No-Fault Law. This law provides drivers and passengers with various benefits and a way to make up for the losses and injuries a person sustains after a car or truck wreck.
The Michigan car accident attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm have represented clients injured in Clinton County and neighboring counties such as Ingham, Saginaw, Gratiot, Eaton or Shiawassee for over 40 years. Whether you got hurt by a truck in St. Johns, hit by a car in DeWitt or injured riding your motorcycle in Lansing, our law firm will make sure you get justice.
What Are Michigan No-Fault Benefits?
Individuals who are hurt in a car wreck in Clinton County are entitled to what’s known as no-fault benefits. These benefits are called personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. PIP benefits are a part of almost every insurance policy in Michigan.
According to MCL 500.3105 and MCL 500.3107, a car insurance company must pay benefit for accidental injuries that arise out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle. These benefits include reasonable charges for an injured person’s care, recovery or rehabilitation.
This means the auto insurance company must pay for all medical expenses, including hospital bills, doctors’ bills, rehabilitation and surgery bills that health insurance does not cover, up to the PIP coverage limit.
Which Insurance Company Pays My Claim?
When you are injured in a car or truck accident in Clinton County, there are a few different claims that can be made. The insurance company that pays the claim depends on the type of claim you are pursuing.
If another driver causes a crash, then the insurance carrier for the driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle is responsible for paying pain and suffering. However, your own auto insurance company is responsible for paying your own PIP benefits as well as the property damage to the car (if you have collision coverage).
For example, let’s say you are traveling westbound on M21 near US-127 when a vehicle heading eastbound loses control and enters your lane, causing a violent head-on collision. You have insurance with Allstate but the at-fault driver has Auto-Owners Insurance.
For purposes of your no-fault benefits, Allstate Insurance is responsible for paying lost wages that accumulate for missing work due to injuries from the crash. Allstate Insurance will also pay medical bills that your health insurance does not cover. If you have Medicare or Medicaid, then Allstate Insurance must pay for all auto accident-related treatment. However, Allstate must only pay up to the amount of PIP coverage you have on your policy.
If you use up all the PIP coverage from your policy to pay for medical bills, then any medical expenses after that is the responsibility of the at-fault driver.
Collision Claim and Mini-Tort Claim:
If you have collision coverage, Allstate will also pay to fix the vehicle, minus your deductible. If the car is totaled, then Allstate Insurance must pay the net present cash value of your automobile.
You can make a claim for the property damage to your car caused by the at-fault driver. This is called a “mini-tort” claim. However, under the Michigan mini-tort law the most you can obtain from negligent driver for the car damage is $3,000.
Pain and Suffering Claim or Negligence Claim:
The last type of claim you can make is a pain and suffering claim for the injuries you have. This claim is against the at-fault driver through his auto insurance company, Auto-Owners. This type of case is also known as a negligence claim or “third-party” claim. There are specific rules in making a pain and suffering claim, as explained under MCL 500.3135.
Insurance companies don’t like giving their money away. That’s why it is important to talk to an experienced Clinton County car accident attorneys to understand your rights and how to proceed with these claims.
Can I Sue the Other Driver for Negligence?
Yes. Under Michigan law, if a person is at least 50% at-fault for causing the crash, then he or she is liable for the pain and suffering they caused. This is called a negligence case. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying pain and suffering.
However, to get money for your injuries, not only do you have to prove the other driver was at-fault, you must also demonstrate you have a “threshold” injury. There are three threshold injuries: (1) death, (2) permanent, serious disfigurement, and (3) serious impairment of body function.
Almost all cases involve the last threshold – serious impairment of body function. If a person fails to prove they sustained a serious impairment of body function because of the car wreck, then he or she is not entitled to pain and suffering compensation.
What is a Serious Impairment of Body Function?
A serious impairment of body function is defined by Michigan law. It is codified under MCL 500.3135(5). It reads:
(5) As used in this section, “serious impairment of body function” means an impairment that satisfies all of the following requirements:
(a) It is objectively manifested, meaning it is observable or perceivable from actual symptoms or conditions by someone other than the injured person.
(b) It is an impairment of an important body function, which is a body function of great value, significance, or consequence to the injured person.
(c) It affects the injured person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life, meaning it has had an influence on some of the person’s capacity to live in his or her normal manner of living. Although temporal considerations may be relevant, there is no temporal requirement for how long an impairment must last. This examination is inherently fact and circumstance specific to each injured person, must be conducted on a case-by-case basis, and requires comparison of the injured person’s life before and after the incident.
Proving a serious impairment of body function is not easy. Just because another person hits your car and was responsible for the damage and injuries does not mean you can get money.
It is very important to discuss your situation with a Clinton County car accident lawyer that has a track record for getting great results. This lawyer and the law firm should have a team of experts ready to answer your questions and navigate your case so you can get everything under the law you are entitled to receive.
Can I Get Money Even if The Car Is Uninsured?
If the at-fault driver or the owner of the at-fault car is uninsured, you can still make a claim. This is done by making an “uninsured motorist” (UM) claim through your own auto insurance, or through the auto insurance of the vehicle you occupied when the crash happened.
For example, you are a passenger in your sister’s Ford Edge which is insured with State Farm. While she is driving on Dewitt Road, another vehicle runs a stop sign and slams into her vehicle. You have back and neck pain from the t-bone crash. The other vehicle is not insured. You can make a claim through your sister’s auto insurance – State Farm Insurance – for the payment of pain and suffering. This is called an uninsured motorist claim. You can also make a UM claim through own your auto insurance carrier.
UM coverage is not mandatory. It is a coverage that you must specifically ask for and pay for. However, given the number of uninsured drivers on Michigan roads, it is imperative to purchase UM coverage. This type of insurance is very inexpensive and worth it, especially after a bad wreck.
Other Personal Injury Cases
The Clinton County Car Accident Attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm hande other types of personal injury cases in Clinton County. These cases include:
- Slip and fall cases or premises liability
- Medical malpractice or medical negligence
- Injuries that occur on a rental property
- Dog bites or dog attacks
- Roadway or highway defect cases
- Nursing home neglect or nursing home abuse
- Government liability
Clinton County Car Accident Attorneys You Can Trust
Whether you have been involved in a wreck in Clinton County within the last few days or within the last few months, give our office a call. The initial consultation is free and we never charge anything until we win your case. There are no upfront costs, ever.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm has been obtaining righteous settlements and verdicts for Clinton County residents for decades. We have represented clients from St. Johns, Ovid, Grand Ledge, Bath, Elsie, DeWitt and just about every village and township in the county. Let our dynamic team of Clinton County injury lawyers get your life back together. Call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733).
Important Clinton County Contact Information:
Clinton County Sheriff’s Department, 1347 E Townsend Rd., St. Johns, MI 48879; 989-227-6580.
Clinton County Circuit Court, 100 E State St. Suite 4500, St. Johns, MI 48879
65A District Court, 100 E State St #3400, St Johns, MI 48879; 989-224-5155
Clinton County Building Department, 100 E. State St., Suite 1300, St. Johns, MI 48879, 989-224-5181
St. Johns Police Department, 409 S Whittemore St, St Johns, MI 48879; 989-224-6721
DeWitt Police Department, 414 E Main St, Dewitt, MI 48820; (989) 669-9131