What To Do After A Car Accident Leaves A Passenger Injured

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in , .

Michigan has numerous roadways, and private vehicles comprise roughly 88% of all trips. This does not take into account commercial and other types of vehicles sharing the roadways. The average U.S. car occupancy of 1.5 persons per vehicle in 2019 indicates many drivers also travel with passengers.

If you have a family or young children, you frequently drive around other passengers. In that case, it is important to know how much protection you have under your insurance. However, your level of coverage will depend on your policy.

An accident can be a stressful experience. If you have been in a car accident and have questions about your passenger’s rights, Matz Injury Law can help. Regardless of your policy, we can help you maximize compensation for you and your passengers. Call our law office today at 1-866-22Not33 for a free consultation.

My Passenger is Injured. What Should I Do?

As a motor vehicle operator, you are legally obligated to help your passengers when they are injured in a motor vehicle accident. To protect you and your passenger’s health and legal rights, take the following steps.

Report the Accident to the Police

According to Michigan law, you are required to report a car accident to the police if injuries or property damage exceed $1,000, so they can file an official police report. The reporting officer (or commanding officer) then forwards the accident report to the director of the Michigan State Police Department, where further analysis of the accident case takes place.

Tend to Any Passenger Injuries

If any passenger injuries occur, you are required by law to secure medical aid or provide transportation for injured individuals under Michigan law.

Gather Evidence

After tending to medical care and exchanging information with authorities and other drivers, be sure to take pictures of:

  • The accident scene
  • Vehicles involved
  • Road signage
  • Road conditions
  • Skid marks
  • Any injuries
  • Other relevant factors

If there are any eyewitnesses to the car crash, get their contact information as well. Make certain to provide this information to your passenger, so they have it handy if they need to file their own claim.

Call Your Insurance Provider

Be sure to call your insurance provider to let them know about the accident. Michigan is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents and has an order of priority of how to file a claim, regardless of fault. The priority starts with your own insurance carrier as the first point of contact.

Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney

Regardless of the type of accident you were in, it is a good idea to speak with a personal injury lawyer right away. They can help you, or any member of your household, in the event of an injury and go over claims to be sure the paperwork is in order. If you need to file a lawsuit, your attorney can handle the complexities associated with a personal injury claim in Michigan for yourself or your injured passengers.

What Happens if My Passenger is Hurt in a Car Accident?

Under Michigan’s no-fault laws, that person is entitled to personal injury protection (PIP). Whether it falls under your insurance depends on their relationship with you. For instance, a member of your household will fall under your policy if they are your passenger, but if a friend is with you, they will be covered by their own insurance policy when they go to file an insurance claim.

When Does Michigan PIP Cover Passengers?

In an auto accident, your insurance covers yourself, your spouse, your children, and any relatives of you or your spouse who live in the same home, even if your car was not involved in the crash. As an example, if your family member is riding with a friend and suffers an injury, your policy will cover them. Michigan has what is called a no-fault order of policy in place. Here, we will explain how it works.

First Priority

Insurance companies prioritize the actual provider first in the event of a crash. If you or your passenger who lives with you is in your car, then the driver’s insurance policy is first to file a claim.

Second Priority

The automobile insurance of a resident relative (must be related by blood or marriage) gets second priority. In many instances, this would be your spouse’s insurance coverage.

Third Priority

If there is no insurance policy under the first or second priority, the state will assign an insurance company.

How Much Compensation Can My Passengers Claim for Their Injuries?

The amount of compensation your passenger can claim will depend on their insurance policy. On July 1, 2020, Michigan revamped its insurance law significantly. Now Michiganders can maintain a coverage level of their choosing and also elect to have their PIP benefits capped in exchange for a lower premium on their auto insurance.

  • Choose unlimited coverage
  • Choose a cap of $500,000
  • Choose a cap of $250,000
  • Choose a cap of $250,000 (with PIP exclusions)
  • Choose a cap of $50,000
  • Opt out of PIP completely

This coverage is for your medical and nurses’ aid, if needed, only. The unlimited nature of the PIP benefit will not kick in unless a person suffers catastrophic injuries in a collision which tends to have very high medical bills associated with medical treatment to help them recover from bodily injury.

What Happens if My Passenger Does Not Have Insurance?

If your passenger is uninsured, they are still eligible for benefits under Michigan’s no-fault insurance law.

In this situation, your passenger can file for benefits under the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, administered by the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF). There, they will be assigned to an insurance company to pay for their benefits. This coverage will also cover uninsured commuters.

Can a Passenger be a Witness in a Car Accident?

Yes, a passenger in a car accident is a viable witness to a crash, even if they are your relative or friend. In many situations, a passenger makes an excellent witness since they may observe an event or detail occurring just before the collision. However, their credibility or objectivity may be called into question by the car insurance company during witness testimonials regarding the crash.

Ideally, witnesses should be objective, third-party individuals with no relationship to the parties involved in a claim. This eliminates any potential conflict of interest, and the insurance company, their adjuster, or any other party cannot claim biased testimony.

If you do not know of any witnesses other than the driver and passenger in your accident, speak to an experienced attorney who can launch an investigation, look for witnesses, and gather evidence.

Your Passenger Can Sue You If You Are At-Fault For the Accident

Under Michigan’s motor vehicle accident laws, your passenger has the legal right to sue you if you are at fault for the auto crash. First, however, they must file with their own insurance company to get compensation for their medical expenses.

To be eligible to file a personal injury case against you as the vehicle’s driver, your passenger must meet the “threshold injury requirement.” According to Michigan law, the injuries must constitute a serious impairment of body function, a permanent serious disfigurement, or death. Essentially, the party who suffers an injury must demonstrate their injuries are severe enough to pursue damages against the driver involved in the car accident.

This threshold injury requirement is unique to Michigan, so it can be confusing. Additionally, in recent years, the state has changed the definition of threshold injury. A knowledgeable Michigan car accident lawyer can offer you significant help in this area by lending you their expertise and knowledge of evolving laws in our state.

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

Been in an accident? As a passenger, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering and other damages. Anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident can benefit from obtaining legal representation. If insurance coverage does not adequately pay for the medical costs of any injuries, you can pursue a lawsuit.

A car accident lawyer well-versed in Michigan law will determine the appropriate insurance company to file a claim and, if necessary, initiate a lawsuit in court. Matz Injury Law has decades of experience and is thoroughly familiar with Michigan personal injury and accident laws. We can negotiate with insurance companies and serve as a go-between with them as your advocate. With legal help for the filing and negotiation processes, most people find they get better settlements and fair compensation than if they were to file themselves.

Insurance companies often do not have your best interests at heart and are notorious for offering insufficient settlements. Often, these amounts do not even cover the extent of a policyholder’s injuries. Some may even deny a claim. At Matz Injury Law, our legal team will work hard to see you receive fair treatment and get what you need.

Michigan Passengers Can Get Compensation, Too

Matz Injury Law understands the difficulties and stresses you face after being involved in an automobile collision. A crash can be traumatic. Our compassionate car accident attorneys are fully committed to our clients. We will help you navigate the complexities of filing a car insurance claim or lawsuit after an accident occurs.

You do not have to do this alone. With a Matz Injury Law attorney by your side, you can rest assured someone is in your corner. You do not pay our law firm unless we recover a settlement. Our fee is far lower than the industry standard, just 22%, not 33%. To date, we have recovered more than $300 million for our personal injury clients.

To obtain a free case evaluation, contact us today at 1-866-22Not33 or through our convenient online contact form.

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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The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 33 1/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 33 1/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients. 

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients.  We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims.  Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.

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