Car Accidents *

In General

Michigan’s No Fault law has become increasingly complex during recent years, as the automobile insurance industry has increasingly guided the legislature’s and courts’ policies.  There are two important types of claims:  “First party claims” involve claims usually under your own insurance policy for medical, wage loss, and services; “Third party” claims involve claims against an at fault driver who caused a victim’s injuries.  Because insurance companies have become very aggressive in defending
and denying victims’ claims, we recommend victims refrain from making statements to insurance adjusters until you have counseled with a personal injury attorney and learned what “key words” and “exclusions” may be involved in your case.  We have taken many, many No Fault cases to trial and obtained verdicts as well as settlements.  The No Fault Act citation is MCL 500.3101 et seq., see especially MCL 500.3135.  The statute of limitations for filing a claim for medical/wage/services/property is generally 1 year; the statute of limitations for filing a claim for automobile negligence is generally 3 years, although there are some exceptions.  Do not let an insurance company representative convince you to wait for “negotiations” to be completed, because the courts have held that a suit may expire regardless of what the insurance rep tells you.

Car accident: $1,000,000 settlement

A young man was killed during a wedding reception road trip, when a vehicle he was riding in crashed, due to driver intoxication.  The issue of “permissive use” was key, and it took extensive discovery (depositions and investigation) to establish that the car owner had given permission for the car to be driven.  Investigation was also important in determining who was driving the car at the time of the crash.  

Semi-truck driver suffers severe wrist injury: $1,200,000

arbitration/verdict and appeal

A long-haul driver swerved to avoid a hit-and-run driver, and despite heroically avoiding killing the hit-and-run driver, suffered a severe wrist injury when his rig jack-knifed.  Perseverance was required to obtain a verdict, because the employer and insurance company fought the claim.  The case was submitted to binding arbitration, which resulted in a $750,000 award.  Then a lawsuit was filed to collect the award, which was successful.  Then the employer’s insurance company (Zurich) filed an appeal to overturn the verdict.  We won the appeal, and finally the client received his rights under his employer’s “uninsured motorist coverage”.  (Note:  If you are injured in an automobile crash, check your insurance policy and the policy of your car and your driver for “under-insured coverage” and “uninsured coverage”, which may be critical to your recovery.)

Soft tissue (whiplash) injury: $350,000 verdict

This case proves that even a non-catastrophic claim can be handled correctly and result in helping a worthy victim.  A local business-woman suffered soft tissue (muscle and ligament) injuries when her vehicle was struck head on by a drunk driver.  This case was difficult, because Michigan Supreme Court rulings have undermined the rights of “soft tissue injury” victims.  The key to this case was the client’s credibility and her treating doctor’s willingness to testify.  Even though this business-woman had returned to work, she was unable to work full-time and lost some cherished sports activities  After receiving the verdict, we had to filed suit against the client’s “under-insured coverage” insurance company (Citizens) to force the payment of additional insurance benefits.  (Note, we also obtained a “first party” settlement of $35,000 for physical therapy benefits, in a separate lawsuit.  This case once again proves that a close inspection of insurance coverages is necessary.)

Commercial truck causes crash (broken wrists): $817,000 settlement

Head-on crash with heavy-duty pick-up truck on icy roadway.  After another law firm waited 2 1/2 years trying to decide whether the client’s injuries were serious, we took over the case and proved that his broken wrists disabled the client from his job.  The key to this case was presenting clear, graphic medical evidence.

ATV crash on two-track causes broken wrist: $500,000 verdict

Two ATV’s collided head on, on a blind curve on a dirt road.  The client suffered a broken wrist, but kept his job.  The insurance company tried to blame the client for being “an out-of-towner”.  The key to this case was the testimony of the Sheriff Deputy, who testified how the defendant tried to get him to change the accident report.  Juries dislike people who manipulate the truth.

Pedestrian struck by run-away fishing boat trailer: $425,000 verdict

The client was walking with her husband in Leelanau County when an approaching vehicle’s small fishing boat trailer broke loose and struck her hip.  The defendant argued that the client’s injuries were not serious because she suffered no wage loss (she was retired) and she healed within a few months.  The key to this case was telling the story of the client’s life – she and her husband retired, and were enjoying life to the fullest when this incident befell them.  Even though there was no wage loss, it had a big impact on their life.

Auto crash due to multiple contributing factors: $2,100,000 case evaluation and $500,000 partial settlement

The Michigan Department of Transportation, the County Sheriff, and a Service Station were all sued because of a serious traffic accident.  Our client was a passenger in a sheriff vehicle that spun out in a rainstorm.  Internet discovery of Dept. of Transportation engineering data showed the road surface was worn.  Investigation of the vehicle’s maintenance records showed that dangerously worn tires had been installed shortly before the crash.  Expert analysis of the “crush” evidence and geometry of the scene established the deputy driving the vehicle was going extremely fast.  The County defendant tried to claim the client was an “employee” – and tried to limit his compensation to worker compensation benefits – but we researched that issue and proved he was not an employee.  The client settled with the Dept. of Transportation for $500,000, and is proceeding against the County and Service Station.  The key to this case was investigation and expert analysis.

Drunk driver t-bones young girl:  $475,000 settlement

A young girl driving home suffered “soft tissue” injuries and a mild brain injury when a drunk driver ran a red light, broad-siding her.  The key to the case in obtaining such a favorable settlement was working with her doctors to understand the impact this mild brain injury and “soft tissue” damages to her back had on her life.

* These automobile injury cases are chosen from many more, to illustrate some of the variety of the issues we have dealt with.

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