Accidents happen, but when you or a loved one is harmed through no fault of your own, navigating the aftermath of an accident can be even more challenging. Michigan law allows accident victims to pursue justice through a personal injury lawsuit.
These cases can help determine who is at fault in an accident and help the wronged party receive compensation. When you've suffered as a result of the choices of someone else, getting proper payout for your injuries allows you to move forward without a financial burden.
Personal injury claims can result from virtually any set of circumstances in which one party causes harm to another.
It isn't always simple or straightforward to determine fault after an accident, and determining what amount makes a fair settlement is even more challenging. Working with an experienced attorney who specializes in personal injury cases is the best way to ensure you receive the right amount of financial compensation for your injuries, suffering and property damage.
What are some examples of personal injury claims in Michigan?
Personal injury claims can result from virtually any set of circumstances in which one party causes harm to another. There are many different circumstances that can lead to a personal injury case. Here is an overview of some of the most common types of personal injury claims.
Motor vehicle accidents
Any accident in which at least one motor vehicle is involved can lead to a personal injury case. Some examples include:
- Driving while under the influence
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while fatigued
- Failure to properly maintain a vehicle
- Commercial trucking accidents
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Reckless driving
When the actions of one party bring harm to another on the roads, a personal injury case can follow. These are among the most common types of personal injury, as accidents happen each and every day.
When you entrust your care to a medical professional, you expect a certain degree of caution and professionalism. If your medical provider or any support staff fail to meet the proper standards of care, a medical malpractice suit can follow. Some examples of circumstances that can lead to a lawsuit include:
- Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis
- Failure to treat or delayed treatment
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Emergency room mistakes
- Prescription drug errors
Proving fault in medical malpractice cases can be difficult, and most hospitals and practice insurers will fight hard to protect their interests.
If you sustain an injury while on someone else's property, and the injury came about due to the negligence of the property owner, you may have a basis for a personal injury claim. Some examples of premises liability cases include:
- Slip and fall
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Flood or fire
- Elevator accidents
- Snow and ice accidents
- Inadequate property maintenance
- Lack of security that leads to an assault or other crime
Property owners have an obligation to create and maintain safe conditions for anyone who visits or has business on the property.
The most distressing personal injury cases are those in which a life has been lost. Wrongful death cases focus on compensating loved ones for their financial losses after losing a family member due to the negligence of another party. Some examples of wrongful death cases include:
- Criminal actions
- Nursing home abuse
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace injuries
- Birth injuries
- Defective products
- Motor vehicle accidents
Losing a loved one is incredibly hard, but a successful wrongful death lawsuit can ensure the family is able to move forward without a heavy financial burden on top of their emotional pain.
What are damages in a personal injury case?
The term "damages" refers to the cost of harm brought on through the negligent acts of another party. Damages can refer to the line-item expense of medical treatment and property damage. It can also refer to less tangible damages like the loss of companionship or pain and suffering that follows a serious accident.
The state of Michigan places limits on the amount of damages that can be received in certain cases. With product liability cases and medical malpractice cases, no more than $280,000 can be received for bodily injury and $500,000 for wrongful death or extreme disability.
What are economic damages?
Economic damages are the most straightforward type of damages in a personal injury case. These are the expenses directly linked to the accident or injury.
For example, if you are injured in a car accident, your damages might include the cost of repairing body damage to your vehicle, towing the vehicle from the scene, and having the car painted so that the color is consistent after repair work is complete. You might also receive damages for the expense of having to rent a vehicle while yours was in the shop.
In terms of medical expenses, your damages might include the cost of transportation in an ambulance, as well as the emergency room fees. You may need to work with a specialist during recovery, or require surgery to treat the injuries sustained in the accident. You may even need a course of physical therapy to fully recover. All of these are considered economic damages.
Time away from work can also be part of economic damages. If your injuries will prevent you from working in the same capacity as you did prior to the accident, you may be able to seek damages linked to the change in your lifetime earning potential.
In many ways, determining economic damages is a simple process. Most of the expenses outlined above come with a clearly stated bill or invoice. The process of tallying those damages is simple, and the only difficult part is making sure all of the financial aspects of a personal injury case have been accounted for. Once the matter is resolved through a settlement or court case, there is little ability to go back and revisit the matter.
What are non-economic damages?
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are not always easy to quantify. These are losses that can't be outlined on a medical bill or looked up in a chart. Non-economic damages involve emotional harm, which is never easy to place a value on. These mages are often referred to as pain and suffering.
One type of non-economic damages is loss of companionship. An example would be when a brother loses his sibling in a workplace accident. The brother could make a strong case that he will suffer extensively due to losing his sibling.
Loss of consortium is a specific type of non-economic damage that occurs when a spouse loses his or her husband or wife in an accident or criminal act. Married people build their lives together and have certain expectations about what their future will hold. When a negligent act alters those plans, the surviving spouse is harmed. Loss of consortium can also apply to losses sustained when parents or children are harmed.
What counts as a threshold injury in the state of Michigan?
In order to receive compensation for non-economic injuries, the state of Michigan requires that a threshold injury is present. This means you have to suffer a serious injury before the law will consider the ole that pain and suffering plays in your life after the accident.
Michigan law states that in order for an injury to be considered a threshold injury, it must bring "serious impairment of bodily function" or "permanent serious disfigurement." Death is also considered a threshold injury.
This leaves a great deal of ambiguity in what can be counted as a threshold injury. These matters have worked their way through the appellate courts for years, and a recent reform in 2019 sought to clarify the matter.
In order for an injury to meet the threshold requirement, it must be clearly manifested. That means the injury has to be easily identifiable by any reasonable party. The injury also must apply to a part of the body that is significant or of great value to the injured party. This means it would be far more difficult to make an argument about an amputated toe, while an amputated foot would make a much stronger case.
Furthermore, the threshold injury must present a clear roadblock to moving forward with normal daily activities. It has to have a direct negative impact on your ability to live the same way you lived prior to the accident.
Determining what can be considered a threshold injury is a very personalized matter. It requires an in-depth understanding of the individual's life prior to the accident and how it has changes as a result of the accident.
How long will it take to resolve my personal injury case?
This is a simple question with a complex answer. Each and every personal injury case is unique, and there are no rules or guidelines as to how these matters are resolved. There is no such thing as an "average" or "standard" payout for personal injury claims.
That's why it is so important to work with a highly skilled personal injury attorney to shape a case around your specific set of needs. Your attorney will determine the ways the accident affected your life, and fight to ensure you are properly compensated.
You also play a role in moving forward with your personal injury case. There will be times when there is nothing needed from you other than patience. It can be incredibly frustrating to have to wait until records are compiled, accident scenes are recreated, or witnesses are interviewed. Rest assured that your legal team is working hard on your behalf, even when it seems like there is little in the way of forward momentum.
At other times, your attorney will ask you to provide information, documentation, or signatures. Taking care of those requests in a timely manner will keep your case moving forward, and will ultimately help the matter reach a resolution as promptly as possible.
When is the right time to reach out to a personal injury attorney?
When you've been involved in a serious accident, your first priority should always be to secure your immediate safety and look after your medical needs. Seek emergency medical treatment if necessary, and keep a close eye out for symptoms that arise in the days following an accident. The full extend of bodily harm is not always immediately apparent after an injury.
Once you are in a safe and stable condition, the time is right to turn your attention to your legal rights. Not all personal injury cases are clear and straightforward. Very often, people struggle to understand if their circumstances meet the standards of personal injury law.
The best way to know for sure is to reach out and schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney. You'll have the chance to share the details of your case, ask questions, and receive guidance on how to move forward.
If your case is a good fit for a personal injury lawsuit, you'll explore how to move forward in that process. Your attorney works closely with you to craft a case that offers the best chance of a successful outcome and a strong payout for your injuries. They will also handle all of the paperwork and other filing requirements throughout the process.
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, but if your case does eventually go before a court of law, your attorney will craft a compelling case to ensure your rights are upheld. You'll have a trusted advisor to turn to with any questions or concerns, which can make the process far easier to manage.
If your circumstances do not meet the standards for a personal injury case, you will at least walk away in the knowledge that you took every step possible to determine your rights under the law. That peace of mind is valuable, and can help you move forward after an accident.