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.
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:
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.
Several conditions that can result from injuries sustained due to the negligence of another person can be classified as pain and suffering in Michigan.
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.
Accident injuries can cause profound feelings of shame or embarrassment. These feelings can prevent you from returning to a normal life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
The law does not require the impairment to have any specific duration, such as six months or longer.
While each personal injury case presents unique facts, a jury will consider the following circumstances in almost any case:
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.