Pain and Suffering in Michigan

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

If you have recently been involved in an accident, you may have found that Michigan insurance laws are not very straightforward. Michigan’s no-fault law, while intended to make sure accident victims can recover compensation for their injuries, can be quite confusing. Even once you understand how the no-fault law works, you might still wonder if you can sue the other driver. You might need to file a lawsuit if you want to recover certain types of damages, including compensation for pain and suffering. The personal injury lawyers at Matz Injury Law are here to help you understand the laws surrounding pain and suffering and get compensation for your losses.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Michigan law allows injury victims to recover several kinds of damages in various circumstances. Economic damages include direct financial losses that you have or will suffer because of your injuries, such as:

  • Medical bills, including ongoing and future medical treatment
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Rehabilitation and other expenses related to your injuries
  • Property damage
  • Funeral expenses in wrongful death cases

Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damage. It does not compensate you for something that has directly cost you money. Instead, it tries to compensate you for the reduction in your quality of life as a result of your injuries.

Car accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, and other personal injury incidents can affect your well-being long after you have received medical treatment. Pain and suffering damages address problems like lingering physical pain, emotional distress, and other effects.

What Are the Different Types of Pain and Suffering in Michigan?

Several conditions that can result from injuries sustained due to the negligence of another person can be classified as pain and suffering in Michigan.

Denial of Social Pleasure and Enjoyment

If you cannot participate in or enjoy activities like you did before you sustained your injuries, you could have a claim for denial of social pleasure and enjoyment. You might be in too much physical pain or find that a hobby or other activity you once enjoyed now triggers a traumatic response.

Embarrassment, Humiliation, or Mortification

Accident injuries can cause profound feelings of shame or embarrassment. These feelings can prevent you from returning to a normal life.

Fright and Shock

People may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from many types of injuries after an accident. This could happen if they suffered painful or life-threatening injuries, or if they feared that their accident would end their lives.

Mental Anguish

Injury victims may experience a wide range of mental and emotional responses in the aftermath of an accident, including depression, anxiety, fear, and anger. These feelings can be overwhelming and can interfere with or even prevent their recovery.

Physical Pain and Suffering

Injuries can have physical effects that persist long after the accident, and even long after the completion of your treatment and rehabilitation. Headaches and neck, back, joint, or muscle pain are common effects of accident injuries that can have a severe impact on quality of life.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Pain and Suffering in Michigan?

Michigan law imposes a deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations. For a lawsuit for pain and suffering after a Michigan car accident or other event leading to injuries, the statute of limitations is three years.

How Much Can You Sue for Pain and Suffering in Michigan?

No-fault insurance coverage only provides compensation for medical bills and certain other economic damages. In order to recover damages for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses, you have to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, and it might be necessary to file a lawsuit. Michigan’s no-fault law for car accident claims only allows fault-based claims for non-economic damages in cases involving “death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.”

If you meet this threshold injury requirement, the amount that you can recover for pain and suffering in Michigan depends on numerous factors, including:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The length of time they are likely to affect you
  • Whether or not you are able to reach a settlement agreement

What is Necessary in Order to Sue for Pain and Suffering in Michigan?

You will need evidence of your injuries and their impact on your well-being in order to claim pain and suffering damages. Evidence may include medical records, testimony from doctors, and other witnesses or materials that may help show how your injuries have affected you.

Before you can present evidence of your pain and suffering in an insurance claim or lawsuit, you must establish that the defendant is liable for your injuries. Most personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. Suppose you were injured in a car accident after the defendant ignored a stop sign and hit your vehicle. You would have to prove the following four points to establish negligence:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to obey traffic laws and operate their vehicle safely.
  • The defendant breached their duty of care by committing the traffic offense of running a stop sign.
  • This breach caused your injuries. You must show that the collision resulted from the defendant running the stop sign and that your injuries resulted from the collision.
  • You suffered damages because of your injuries. You must demonstrate that your injuries caused losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages.

Michigan has additional requirements for car accident claims that seek non-economic damages. You must meet a “bodily injury threshold,” also known as the “tort threshold,” in order to claim pain and suffering damages. In cases that do not allege wrongful death, Michigan law requires proof of “serious impairment of body function” or “permanent serious disfigurement.”

State law defines “serious impairment of body function” in three parts:

  • It must be “objectively manifested,” meaning that someone other than the injury victim can observe the symptoms.
  • The impaired bodily function must be “​​of great value, significance, or consequence to the injured person.”
  • The impairment must affect “the person’s capacity to live in his or her normal manner of living.”

The law does not require the impairment to have any specific duration, such as six months or longer.

What Factors Does a Jury Consider in Deciding the Amount of Damages for Pain and Suffering?

While each personal injury case presents unique facts, a jury will consider the following circumstances in almost any case:

  • The defendant’s liability;
  • Whether the plaintiff was partly at fault for the accident; and
  • The credibility of each party and their evidence and witnesses.

Michigan’s comparative fault law allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they were partly at fault for the accident, but only if their share of the fault is less than 50%. The amount they can recover must be reduced by their percentage of fault. A plaintiff found to be 10% at fault, for example, would have their final award reduced by 10%.

Before a jury can get to questions about the amount of damages to award to you, you must prove that the defendant was negligent and that you experienced pain and suffering as a result. Medical records are essential to proving your injuries. Witness testimony about how your injuries have affected you is necessary to establish non-economic losses.

Are You Ready to be Compensated? Matz Injury Law is Ready to Help.

Ready to discuss your case? Talk to the personal injury lawyers at Matz Injury Law by calling 1-866-22Not33 or completing our online contact form, and we’ll be in touch immediately.

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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