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Is There a Limit to the Compensation I Can Receive After a Car Accident in Michigan?

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How Much Compensation Can I Recover Following a Michigan Car Crash?

A car accident can leave you in a precarious financial position. You may face enormous medical expenses, the prospect of finding a new vehicle, and weeks or months of missed wages due to your inability to work. Accident victims experiencing these losses often wonder if Michigan state law places a limit on the compensation they can recover following a car accident.

While there are no direct caps on the maximum compensation a Michigan judge can award in a car accident lawsuit, other factors could impact your ability to recover full damages for your losses. Because each accident case is unique, consulting with a knowledgeable car accident attorney can be vital to understanding your rights and options regarding compensation.

How Do the State’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Impact My Ability to Recover?

Michigan is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that each driver involved in the crash will initially seek compensation from their own insurer, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Your recovery amount from your insurance claim will depend on your policy limits and how much the insurer is willing to settle for. Michigan law mandates minimum coverage amounts for bodily injury (BI) coverage, personal injury protection (PIP), and property protection insurance (PPI). However, drivers may choose to carry more coverage than required by law to provide greater financial protection in the event of a crash.

A driver’s PIP coverage will pay for their own economic losses caused by the crash. These costs include medical bills, in-home nursing care, assistance with household duties, and a percentage of the driver’s lost wages, up to the maximum amount their policy allows. While PIP coverage can help with many of the costs related to an accident, it does not provide compensation for non-economic losses, property damage, vehicle replacement, or exemplary damages.

If you have expenses beyond what your insurance will pay, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage or bring a lawsuit to recover compensation. Michigan law does not place limitations on car accident lawsuit settlement amounts. However, these cases can quickly become complex. Seeking the counsel of an experienced Michigan car accident attorney can be vital in obtaining the full damages to which you are entitled.

What is Comparative Fault and How Could it Impact My Claim?

In addition to having a no-fault insurance system, Michigan also follows a modified comparative fault system for torts. Essentially, the percentage of fault assigned to you for the crash can affect your ability to file a claim for non-economic damages and may reduce your total compensation. Under M.C.L.A. § 600.2959, plaintiffs are able to bring a claim for economic damages as long as they are not entirely at fault for their crash. However, the value of the compensation will be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s assigned percentage of fault. 

The determination of fault plays a significant role in cases where the plaintiff is seeking non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. That is because these damages are only available to Michigan plaintiffs who are less than 51% at fault for their collision. Defendants and their insurers will often attempt to shift more responsibility for a car accident onto a plaintiff to remove the potential for non-economic damages.

To illustrate the effect of these laws on a claim, imagine being involved in a car crash that leaves you with $100,000 in medical bills and other economic damages. The court determined you were 55% at fault for the crash because you were speeding. In this case, you would be barred from seeking non-economic damages, even if you experienced significant pain and impacts on your daily life from your injuries. Your economic damages would also be reduced by $55,000 (55% of $100,000) to account for your role in the accident, which leaves you with a maximum settlement of $45,000. Due to the financial implications of the comparative fault system, it’s critical to seek strong legal representation to protect your ability to recover the full settlement you are entitled to.

What is the Maximum Amount a Plaintiff Could Receive for Pain and Suffering in a Michigan Car Accident?

The compensation awarded for pain and suffering is intended to cover less tangible damages such as physical pain and discomfort, mental anguish, and emotional distress resulting from the accident. In Michigan, the amount of compensation for pain and suffering is not capped and is determined by various factors. However, to be eligible to recover non-economic damages, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they have suffered a “serious impairment of body function” or “permanent serious disfigurement” as a result of the accident.

The process of calculating pain and suffering compensation does not follow a specific formula. Instead, it involves a comprehensive evaluation of how the victim’s injuries have affected their daily life, their ability to work, and their overall well-being. Factors such as the victim’s age, the circumstances leading to the accident, the severity and type of injuries, and the recovery process are considered when determining a settlement amount.

How Can Our Law Firm Assist You?

Although Michigan law does not restrict the maximum compensation you can obtain after a car accident, you may still find it difficult to recover fair payment for your damages. Financial challenges can arise even if you carry more car insurance coverage than state law requires. In severe accident cases, your losses may surpass your coverage limits, or you could have significant non-economic damages that are not included in your policies.

If you have been injured in a Michigan car collision and have questions about your claim, Sigal Law Firm can provide legal guidance and representation. Our knowledgeable legal team can evaluate your case and support you throughout the compensation process. Contact our firm today at 248-671-6794 to schedule a free consultation to learn about your rights.

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