If you have been seriously injured in a car crash, the bills can stack up fast: medical expenses, housing costs you can’t pay because you’re not working, replacement services, therapy, auto repairs, and a variety of other costs can quickly leave you looking for options. Often, a lawsuit is your best bet. But how do you know who to sue after a serious-injury auto accident?
Medical Expenses? Look to Your No-Fault Insurance Provider
After a serious-injury auto accident, the first place you and your personal injury attorney should turn is to your no-fault insurance provider. Through the end of 2019, Michigan law says that unless you fit into certain very narrow exceptions, your car insurance provider must cover:
- 100% of all reasonable and necessary expenses related to treatment or recovery from your injuries (i.e. medical bills, in-home healthcare, prosthetic devices, home modifications to accommodate for disabilities)
- 80% of actual wage loss for up to 3 years
- Up to $20 per day in replacement services
Starting in 2020, the rules for no-fault insurance will change and Michigan drivers will be able to choose a lower cap for no-fault benefits. What is covered will stay mostly the same, but once you hit the upper limit of your policy, you’ll be looking somewhere else to make up the difference.
Knowing which no-fault provider to sue can be complicated all on its own. Generally, a motorist with an insurance policy in his or her name will turn to that policy first. But if you don’t have a car you may have to look to the policy covering:
- Your spouse
- A relative in your household
- The other driver
- The owner of the other vehicle
- The Michigan Assigned Claims Plan
In these cases, you should expect the insurance providers to challenge your claim based on “priority” – saying some other insurance company should have to pay first. These kinds of disputes aren’t supposed to hold up your benefits, but they often do. That’s why it is so important to do your research and pick the right provider to sue.
Pain and Suffering? Find Out Who Was at Fault
But what about the damage caused by a crash that doesn’t come in an invoice? Most serious-injury auto accidents involve:
- Pain and suffering
- Long-term disability (beyond 3 years)
- Loss of enjoyment of life or companionship
These and other “non-monetary” damages aren’t paid by your no-fault insurance provider. Instead, you will need to file a Third Party negligence lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This lawsuit says that someone other than you did something they shouldn’t (or failed to do something they should have) that caused your injuries. Knowing who to sue in a Third Party case often comes down to a close review of the police report, or the work of an accident reconstructionist who can describe what happened at the scene.
Car Trouble? Consider Including the Repair Shop
But what if the person who did something wrong wasn’t in any of the cars at all? In a recent Michigan Court of Appeals case, Anaya v Betten Chevrolet, Inc, the fault lay with an auto-repair technician. Samuel Anaya and Doris Myricks took Myricks’s car in to have the tires rotated by Matt Root at Betten Chevrolet, Inc. When the tire rotation was done, Root forgot to tighten the lug nuts on one wheel. Myricks and Anaya got two blocks away before the tire fell off and they got into a one-car accident, causing Anaya serious back and leg injuries.
The court said that the repair shop and the service technician could be held liable for the harm caused by the negligent repair. While the court determined there wasn’t evidence to say the repair shop had violated the Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act, it said that if there had been, Anaya could have recovered damages, penalties, attorney fees, and costs related to his injuries.
When you are seriously injured in a car crash, sometimes you need to be creative when trying to find ways to pay the bills. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you fully investigate what happened and identify the right insurance companies and defendants to get you the recovery you need.
The Macomb Law Group, is a personal injury law firm in Clinton Township, MI. Our attorneys can help you find the right defendants after a serious-injury auto accident. Contact Macomb Law Group and get our team working for you.