The Michigan DUI accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. represent individuals throughout Michigan injured in a car accident due to alcohol-related crashes. These types of accidents can be devastating to the injured person and families, resulting in untold physical pain and financial hardship.
The emotional toll of drunk driving cases in Michigan are significant. Individual injured or affected due to the negligence of a drunk driver need help navigating the law so they can help put the pieces back together. Under the law, individuals injured due to a drunk driver are entitled to both Michigan no-fault benefits as well as compensation for their pain and suffering. The Michigan DUI accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C can walk you through the process, get medical bills and lost wages paid, and help obtain justice and compensation.
What is Drunk Driving Under Michigan law?
Under the law, it is a crime to drive a motor vehicle with a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater. If a driver is under 21 years-old, then the legal limit is only .02 BAC. In addition, Michigan has greater penalties for anyone who operates a vehicle with a BAC higher than .17. Beyond the civil fines, a police officer can administer a breathalyzer test or ask the driver to perform roadside sobriety tests. If the driver fails these tests, the driver can be arrested for OWI or OUI and face criminal charges.
What Benefits Is a Person Entitled to from Drunk Driving Injuries in Michigan?
Under the Michigan no-fault law, a person injured due to a drunk driver can receive PIP, or personal injury protection benefits. These benefits include the payment of medical expenses, such as hospital bills, doctor bills as well as payment for physical therapy, chiropractic care and other expenses. In addition, an injured person can receive lost wages for up to 3 years from the date of the accident, so long as they are disabled from working due to the car accident.
Other benefits can include the payment of replacement services and attendant care. Replacement services are the household chores family members or friends have to do that the injured person was doing themselves before the accident. This benefit is also available for up to 3 years from the date of the drunk driving crash. Attendant care is more personal care, such as assistance with hygiene, getting dressed and bathing. Again, family members can get paid for the attendant care they perform due to the drunk driving related injuries.
Under the new Michigan car accident policies currently sold in Michigan, the amount of PIP benefits can be limited. If a person selected a limited PIP coverage amount, such as $250,000, then the auto insurance carrier – such as State Farm or Allstate – is only obligated to pay PIP benefits until the coverage is exhausted or used up.
The amount of PIP coverage available can be found in the declaration page of the insurance policy.
Michigan Drunk Driving Accidents and Pain and Suffering:
Besides Michigan no-fault benefits, a person injured due to a drunk driver can also make a claim for the pain and suffering the drunk driver caused. These claims are also known as third-party cases, and the drunk driving lawyers at the Steinberg Law can walk you through the process.
To obtain pain and suffering, the injured party must prove a few things. First, he or she must show the drunk driver was at lest 50% at-fault for causing the crash. Second, the injured person must prove their injuries and that the crash caused the injuries and impairments, or at least aggravated pre-existing injuries and impairments. Last, the injured party must demonstrate they have a “threshold injury.” A threshold injury is a legal term in Michigan. It involves three types: (1) death, (2) permanent, serious disfigurement, and (3) serious impairment of body function. Almost all Michigan drunk driving cases involve this last thresholder – serious impairment of body function.
So in Michigan, just because you got hit by a drunk driver does not mean you are automatically entitled to compensation for your injuries. To demonstrate a serious impairment, the injured person must show the car accident caused objective findings and that the impairments or injuries have generally changed their ability to lead a normal life. This is a fact specific inquiry and every cases is different.
An experienced and knowledgeable Michigan drunk driving personal injury lawyer will be able to help prove to the court their client meets this threshold and is therefore entitled to monetary damages for the crash.
Who can be Sued in a Drunk Driving or DUI Accident Case in Michigan?
When a person is driving drunk and involved in a car, truck or motorcycle accident in Michigan, they can be held at-fault, or negligent, if the alcohol-related impairment was a cause of the crash. But the driver is not the only potential defendant.
In addition, under the Michigan Owners’ Liability Statute – MCL 257.401 – , the owner of a motor vehicle is also responsible for the negligence of the drunk driver operating their car at the time of the accident. Often, the driver and owner of the car are two different people. It is important to find out this information because it can increase the chance for additional insurance coverage and therefore a greater recovery.
If the drunk driver of a vehicle is an employee, then the employer or corporation of the negligent employee may also be held responsible for the injuries the employee causes. This type of liability is called Respondeat Superior and it is found in the common law. In these situations, the company can be a party to the lawsuit and their insurance policy would be obligated to pay the damages the drunk employee caused.
What is a Michigan Dram Shop Case?
Michigan’s Dram Shop Statute is codified at MCL 436.1801. It applies to “retail licensees” which generally covers all entities licensed to serve alcoholic beverages. The statute provides in relevant part: (3) … an individual who suffers damage or who is personally injured by a minor or visibly intoxicated person by reason of the unlawful selling, giving, or furnishing of alcoholic liquor to the minor or visibly intoxicated person, if the unlawful sale is proven to be a proximate cause of the damage, injury, or death …
A claim under the Dram Shop Act is the exclusive remedy against a retail liquor licensee for providing alcohol to minor or visibly intoxicated person. MCL 436.1801(10). The Act requires that the alleged visibly intoxicated person be named in the action and retained until the conclusion of the action. MCL 436.1801(5).
Social host liability in Michigan derives from Michigan common law and Michigan’s Liquor Control Act, MCL 436.1101 et seq and laws prohibiting selling or furnishing alcohol to minors, MCL 436.1701. Basically, it allows a person injured by a drunk driver to sue a social host for serving alcohol to minors.
Michigan Drunk Driving Statistics
In 2019, 5,364 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes. There were 295 fatalities. This is a slight decreased from 2018, when 5,392 were injury and 315 individuals were killed due to drunk drivers in Michigan.
The percentage of alcohol-related fatalities was about 10.3 times higher than fatalities in all crashes and the most serious injury level (suspected serious) was about 6.5 times higher.
There were 122 motorcyclist deaths, and 36 (29.5%) of those deaths were the result of a someone drinking while driving in 2019. Of the 36 motorcyclist alcohol-involved crash deaths, 33 (91.7%) motorcycle drivers were coded as drinking and one (2.8%) was a motorcycle passenger of a drinking driver.
In 2019, out of 21 bicyclist deaths, one (4.8%) was the result of an alcohol-related crash and that bicyclist had been drinking.
Alcohol-related crashes were highest in August (395) in 2019. The highest number of fatal crashes occurred in May (29). Saturday has the highest number of alcohol-related fatal crashes (75), with Sunday second (51).
The cities and counties with the most drunk driving related crashes in Michigan include Detroit (Wayne), Grand Rapids (Kent), Lansing (Ingham), Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti (Washtenaw), Flint (Genesee) and Kalamazoo.
Michigan Drunk Driving Investigations:
It is important to quickly perform an investigation following a drunk driving accident. Important things to do include the following:
- It is vital the police are called to the scene. The police can conduct field sobriety tests on the drunk driver and administer blood alcohol testing which will objectively prove the impairment of the driver.
- Get the names and telephone numbers of all witnesses to the accident. This is important because their statements can be beneficial later on.
- Take photographs and video of the scene. By simply using a smart phone, an accident victim can highlight the severity of the accident. Take photos of the vehicle damage for all the cars involved.
- Call 911 and make sure medical personnel to the scene. Let them know of your injuries and have them to take to an area hospital for treatment.
- Call an experienced Michigan drunk driving lawyer who specializes in personal injury. The law firm will hire private investigators to track down witnesses and take statements, hire accident reconstruction experts to solidify liability, subpoena videos of the accident scene from nearby establishments or the police, and obtain needed documentation to build your case.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Lawsuit?
Under Michigan law, an injured person has three (3) years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit against any applicable defendants. This is called the statute of limitations. If the 3-year time limit passes, then the injured person forever gives up his or her right to seek compensation for pain and suffering and excess economic losses.
There are different rules for minors and sometimes for incapacitated individuals. The time limits can be extended in these situations, however it is important to contact a Michigan drunk driving accident lawyer to understand and protect your rights.
Most Common Injuries in Drunk Driving Accidents
Injuries resulting from drunk driving accidents in Michigan can be catastrophic. Due to the impairments alcohol can cause, such as slowed down reaction time and reflexes, the impacts these crash create can be severe. Injuries resulting from alcohol and drug related crashes include:
- Broken legs and arms;
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion;
- Broken pelvis and hips;
- Joint injury, including ligament and tendon damage to the knee and elbow;
- Low back pain resulting in lumbar radiculopathy;
- Neck pain resulting in cervical radiculopathy;
- Shoulder injury, including rotator cuff tears; and
Michigan Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. have represented individuals injured due to a drunk driver for over 40 years. We know what it takes to win these cases, and we are not afraid to go the extra mile to ensure our clients win. In addition, we never charge a penny until we win your case.
Call us toll free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) so we can answer your questions and get started working for you.