9 Critical Steps After a Michigan Car Accident

Protect your rights and maximize your payout after a Michigan car accident. We answer key questions and show you how to build a strong insurance claim.

Michigan car accidentThanks to many advanced features, today’s cars are safer than ever before. Yet, there are still over six million car accidents in the United States each year. ¹

“I’ve never been in an accident.” “I’m a great driver.” “Accidents happen to the other guy.” Sound familiar?

The reality is if you’re an average driver,  you’ll be in three or four car accidents in your lifetime. ²

Michigan has its fair share of car accidents. In one year alone there were over 297,000 car accidents on Michigan roadways. That’s over 800 car accidents each day! ³

Car accidents happen in the blink of an eye. One minute you’re on your way to work, and the next minute you’re at the side of the road assessing the damage to your car.

What You Need to Know if You’ve Been in a Michigan Car Accident

Once a car accident happens there are reports to file, insurance companies to notify, medical bills, car repairs, attorneys, and more.

Knowing what to say and do after an accident has a big impact on the success of your personal injury and property damage claims. This guide can help.

We’ve put together nine steps to help you build a strong auto insurance claim. We’ve also provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that come up after a car accident in Michigan.

Step 1. Stop, Check for Injuries, Dial 911

Michigan stop help call

If you’ve been in a Michigan car accident, immediately stop wherever it’s safe.

Stay calm and remain focused.

If you’re not seriously injured, get out of your car and check others for injuries.

Then call 911.

What information does the 911 dispatcher need?

When you call 911 and report the accident, the dispatcher will have specific questions.

These questions are used to determine whether police, fire and rescue, paramedics or tow trucks will be needed at the scene. Answer the questions fully and clearly.

This isn’t the time to give your opinion on who caused the accident or why it happened.

You will need the following information:

Location: Give the dispatcher as much detail as possible. Use highway mile markers, street names, landmarks and other precise details.

Hazards: Let the 911 dispatcher know if there are hazards at the scene, like leaking fuel, overturned cars, or traffic problems.

Injuries:  Tell the 911 dispatcher if anyone is injured, feeling sick, or asking for help.

Will police respond to the accident scene?

Police usually respond to accidents with reported injuries, fatalities, traffic problems, or other hazards at the scene.

Which law enforcement agency will come be dispatched? 

If the accident occurs within a city, village, or town, the local police department will be dispatched.

If the crash occurs outside city limits, the county sheriff’s department will respond.

If the crash occurs on a state highway, Michigan State Troopers will be dispatched.

In overlapping jurisdictions, more than one  law enforcement agency may arrive on the scene.

What are my legal duties after an accident?

If you’ve been involved in a Michigan car accident, regardless of fault, you’re required to stop immediately at the scene of the accident.

Once stopped, drivers must share the following information:

  • Names and addresses
  • Registration numbers of cars involved
  • Driver’s license information

The above information must be shared with the following people:

  • A responding police officer
  • The driver or passengers of the other car

If any driver involved in the accident has “reasonable and honest belief” that remaining at the scene will result in further harm, then a driver is not required to stop at the scene of the accident.

Drivers who don’t feel safe stopping at the accident scene must immediately report the accident to the nearest or most convenient police agency or police officer.

What if someone is injured in the accident?

If a car accident resulted in injuries, death, or property damage totaling $1,000 or more, drivers must immediately report the accident to police.

The responding officer will investigate the accident a prepare a police crash report.

Do I have a legal duty to help the injured?

Yes. If someone has been injured in the accident and you’re physically able, Michigan law requires you to render “reasonable assistance.”

This means you must either arrange or provide transportation to a hospital emergency room where the required medical treatment can be administered.

The “reasonable assistance” requirement is usually met when a driver calls 911  to report the accident.

Can I be sued if I help someone who’s injured at the accident scene?

Unfortunately, Michigan does not have a “Good Samaritan” law that protects a layperson who offers first-aid or other help to someone injured in an accident.

This means while fulfilling the requirements to render reasonable assistance, if you unintentionally cause harm to the injured person, you could be sued by that person later.

Michigan law does exempt medical first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and other medical personnel when rendering assistance to an injured person at an accident scene.

That immunity is waived if the exempted personnel display gross negligence or misconduct which exacerbates the person’s existing injuries, or inflicts a separate injury.

What if I’m injured in the accident?

Your injuries may be serious, including bleeding, bruising, abrasions, fractures, burns, and other injuries which are easy to identify.

Some injuries are not so obvious, especially if the symptoms are delayed.After a crash, adrenaline can course through your body, masking injury symptoms.

It’s important to seek immediate medical attention after an accident.

Never refuse medical treatment at the scene. Let the paramedics decide if your injuries are serious enough to require a trip to the hospital for treatment.

Failing to seek immediate medical attention after an accident could mean big trouble for your claim later.

The insurance company won’t hesitate to deny your claim, arguing that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident.

What if there are no injuries, but our cars were damaged?

If you’ve been involved in a Michigan car accident and the damage is $1,000 or more, you must immediately report the accident to police.

To be safe, if you’re not sure about the cost of repair, then report the accident.

Michigan law does not exempt personal property from the statute.

This means in addition to vehicle damages, the cost to repair or replace any personal property damaged in the crash should be included in the $1,000 figure.

Do I have to fill out an accident report?

No. Michigan law does not require drivers involved in car accidents to file individual crash reports.

Contacting police to report the accident is all you’re required to do.

What if I hit a parked car and no one is in it?

If you hit a parked and unattended car, you’re required to stop immediately and locate the owner of the vehicle to give them your name and address.

If you can’t find the owner, you must immediately report the accident to police.

What if I hit property other than a car?

If you hit and damage property other than another vehicle, try to locate the property owner to give them your name, address and your car’s registration number. If they ask, you’re also required to show your driver’s license.

If you’re unable to locate the property owner, report the accident to the nearest police department or officer.

How can I get a copy of the police crash report?

To order a copy of a Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Report go to the Traffic Crash Purchasing System website.

Step 2. Police at the Accident Scene

Michigan police at accidentLaw enforcement officers receive continued training in modern forms of accident scene investigation.

When police officers are dispatched to an accident scene, they are focused on fulfilling their duties. It’s important for you to fully cooperate with them at all times.

What is the role of police at the accident scene?

When police arrive at a Michigan car accident scene, they are authorized to:

  • Coordinate care for the injured
  • Secure the accident scene
  • Direct traffic around the accident scene
  • Look for signs of intoxication
  • Summon tow trucks
  • Identify physical evidence
  • Question drivers, passengers, and witnesses
  • Run warrant checks
  • Issue traffic citations
  • Conduct sobriety checks

Do police officers have to listen to my side of the story?

No. While you have every right to try to give the police your opinion, officers are not obligated to discuss anything with you.

When a police officer asks you to wait, or gives you any other instructions, you should cooperate.

It’s understandable that you may want to tell your side of the story right away, but getting in the way will only cause you more problems.

Never argue with the police. You may not only interfere with the accident investigation, you may even end up getting arrested.

Do I have to answer questions from the police?

It depends. If the officers ask you to identify yourself, including  your full name and address, proof of registration, and proof of insurance, you must comply.

However, if you’re being questioned about possession of drugs, or for any other action which might result in criminal charges, you have the right not to answer those questions.

What if the police officer gives me a ticket?

If a police officer decides you violated Michigan traffic laws, you may be issued a traffic citation. You can certainly attempt to talk the officer out of it, but if the officer does issue the citation you must sign and accept it.

It’s important to know signing the citation is not an admission of guilt. Your signature is only an agreement to appear in court to face the charge.

At that time you may enter a plea of not guilty and dispute the citation.

Step 3. The Importance of Evidence

Michigan accident photo evidenceWhat you do in the minutes following a car accident can be crucial to your injury or property damage claim.

If you’ve been injured or sustained damage to your car, the evidence you gather will support your demand for compensation from the insurance company.

Why begin gathering evidence so soon after the accident?

It’s important to take advantage of the time immediately after the accident.

Before long the police will leave the scene, cars will be driven or towed away, and drivers, passengers and witnesses will be gone. Unfortunately, the evidence will leave with them.

While Michigan is a no-fault insurance state, finding evidence to support your claim for damages can be important.

This is true especially if your severe injuries are exempted from Michigan’s no-fault laws.

What kind of damages are covered by insurance?

Damages are unique to every accident and to every person involved. Damages can include:

  • Car repair bills
  • Rental car costs
  • The cost to repair or replace personal property
  • Medical, dental, and therapy bills
  • Diagnostic tests such as X-Rays, CT Scans and MRIs
  • Out-of-pocket expenses (for items like medications, slings, crutches, etc.)
  • Cost of travel to treatment
  • Nursing care
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

What other information should I gather to help my claim?

In addition to the information already covered, gathering the following will also be helpful:

Vehicles: The make, model, year, and license plate number, expiration date, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the other driver.

The VIN number can normally be found on the car’s dashboard in the left corner at the bottom where the dash and windshield meet, on the driver’s insurance card, or inside the door jamb of the driver’s side door.

Driver and passengers:  Get full names and contact information, including home and business addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers.

If the driver isn’t the owner of a car, you’ll need the owner’s contact information as well.

Diagram of the accident scene: Sketch the location of the cars immediately before and after the collision.

Note the weather conditions, the time of day the accident occurred, the direction each car was traveling in and their approximate speed before the collision.

Are photographs and video important?

Yes. Your digital camera, cell phone, iPad, or other recording device can all be used to develop your property damage and personal injury claim. Use your device to take multiple photos and videos of the crash scene. Be sure to include sound.

Photographs and video are important evidence and can identify the position of the cars, weather conditions, potholes, road obstructions, traffic and street signs, and more.

They can also reflect the demeanor of the drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others at the time of the accident.

Sound is important because it can capture admissions of fault, intoxication, statements about insurance, and other remarks that can help your claim.

By taking photographs and video, it makes it difficult for anyone involved in the accident to later change what they said or did.

Are witness statements important?

Yes. A witness has no legal obligation to speak with you or stay at the scene. You can try to talk to a potential witness long enough to find out if they saw anything that might be helpful to your claim.

If you find a cooperative witnesses, get their name, address, and contact information. Ask them to write down what they saw and heard.

Legal formalities aren’t required for witness statements. Just be sure they sign and date each page of their statement.

Step 4. Report the Crash to Your Insurance Company  

Michigan accident call insurance An insurance policy is a binding legal contract between you (the insured), and your insurance company (the insurer).

While all insurance companies have their own conditions written into their car insurance policies, they all require you to cooperate with them in the investigation of an accident.

What does the “Cooperation Clause” mean to me?

Almost every insurance policy has some kind of “Notice and Cooperation” clause. The clause means you agree to tell the insurance company when you are in an accident, and you also agree to cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation of the accident.

Typical language contained in a Cooperation Clause looks like this:

“Insured (you) agrees to notify the insurer (your insurance company) of any accidents and thereafter comply with all information, assistance, and cooperation which the insurer reasonably requests, and agrees that in the event of a claim the insurer and the insured will do nothing that shall prejudice the insurer’s position…”

Failing to notify your insurance company of an accident, even if wasn’t your fault, or not cooperating with the insurance company’s investigation is a breach of your policy.

Breaching the policy could lead the company to raise your insurance premiums, decline to renew your policy, or even cancel your auto insurance.

Do I have to report the accident if no one was injured?

Yes. To you the accident might have been a minor fender-bender with no apparent injuries. You may be tempted not to report the accident to your insurance company, especially if you think your premiums will be raised.

That could be a serious mistake. Here’s why:

Violation of the Cooperation Clause in Your Policy: You’re under a contractual duty to report the accident to your insurance company. If you don’t, you’re in violation of the terms of the policy.

Delayed Threshold Injury Symptoms: At the time of the accident, the other driver or passengers may have said they were fine. But sometimes injury symptoms don’t appear until hours, or even days after the crash.

Michigan Threshold Injury Exception: The injury sustained by the other driver or their  passengers may fall under the category of a threshold injury.

No Insurance: The other driver may have been uninsured or underinsured at the time of the accident and didn’t want you to know. This can be especially true if the police were called to the scene.

Fraud: Unfortunately, there are some people who purposely involve themselves in accidents to “cash-in” by later filing fraudulent personal injury claims. Your insurance company needs time to investigate the accident in an effort to expose those fraudulent claims.

Do I have to report the accident if it wasn’t my fault?

Yes. By failing to report the accident to your insurance company you may give the other driver or their attorney an advantage. This is especially important if the other driver sustained a threshold injury exempting the driver from the no-fault requirement.

This often happens when both drivers leave the scene of an accident feeling as though they weren’t injured.

Because symptoms of injuries may not appear for hours, and even days after the accident, it’s altogether possible the other driver sustained an injury and didn’t know it.

If that’s that case, the driver may decide the accident was your fault and go on to retain an attorney to pursue a claim against you.

If you failed to report the accident to your insurance company, they won’t have any idea of what’s going on when suddenly they’re contacted by other driver’s attorney threatening a lawsuit.

Example of why it’s important to notify your insurance company:

Molly was on her way to work one morning, heading southbound on I-75 . She intended to take exit 4 to downtown Detroit.  Molly pulled into the turn lane. She waited patiently for traffic to clear so she could safely exit the highway.

As Molly was getting ready to move onto the exit ramp, Jeffrey entered the lane behind her. Thinking Molly was going to complete her exit, he began to move ahead. What he didn’t realize was that she had slowed to let another driver pass.

Jeffrey rear-ended Molly’s car. They pulled over and got out to examine the damage.

Jeffrey asked Molly if she was hurt and she said she was “fine.” Jeffrey said he was a little shaky, but otherwise he was feeling fine, too.

When the police arrived, Jeffrey said he couldn’t stop in time because Molly stopped suddenly on the exit ramp. They ticketed Jeffrey for failing to “Maintain Reasonable and Prudent Distance” under Michigan’s Vehicle Code Section 257.643 (1) which reads in part:

“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the highway.”

Molly and Jeffrey exchanged insurance and contact information.

Because the accident appeared minor, with no damage to either car and no apparent injuries to either driver, Molly and Jeffrey left, each relieved not to be hurt and that their cars were intact.

Unfortunately, Jeffrey chose not to report the accident to his insurance company.  He didn’t want his insurer to know he received a traffic citation and was afraid if he reported the accident his premiums would rise.

The next morning Molly could barely get out of bed. Her back was sore and she couldn’t move her neck without pain.  Her husband drove her to the local hospital’s emergency room.

The physician scheduled Molly for an MRI and CT Scan. Following the tests, the doctor said Molly sustained lumbar disk herniations  and also diagnosed her as having sustained Cauda Equina Syndrome. This is a serious condition in which the bundle of nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord is squeezed. This syndrome can cause permanent bowel and bladder problems.

Molly hired a personal injury attorney.

Two months later Jeffrey opened his mail to find a letter from Molly’s attorney informing him that she had sustained injuries which qualified as a serious impairment of body function.

In Michigan, the definition of a serious impairment of body function is:

“… an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.”

By failing to promptly report the accident to his insurance company, Jeffrey not only violated the terms of the cooperation clause, but he also gave Molly’s attorney a substantial head start on the claim.

By the time he received the letter, the attorney had already located witnesses to the accident, secured copies of Molly’s medical records and bills, a medical narrative from Molly’s physician confirming her injuries were a direct result of the accident, her MRI  and CT scan results, and more.

Jeffrey was shaken. He wondered if his insurance company would defend him in the claim, or if he was going to be on his own.

If Jeffrey had simply complied with the terms of his auto insurance policy by contacting his insurance company right after the accident, he might not be in this position. The insurance company would have already opened an investigation into the claim two months ago.

Now Jeffrey had to wait to see if his insurance company would defend him in the lawsuit, raise his premiums, or even cancel his policy.

Can I just pay off the other drive if the accident was my fault? 

No. Never admit fault at the accident scene, and don’t make any side agreements to pay.

To protect yourself you must report the accident to your insurance company, even if the other driver wants to keep the insurance companies out of it.

It’s entirely possible the other driver believed he wasn’t injured at the scene, but later began to experience symptoms of injuries. This could be pain and discomfort from sprained, strained or torn muscles, ligaments, tendons, whiplash and other injuries whose symptoms were suppressed after the accident.

Moreover, the driver may decide to retain an attorney. If that were to occur and you had not reported the accident to your insurance company, they would not have had prior knowledge of the accident, forcing them to scramble to protect you.

Are there apps to help file accident claims?

Yes. Most insurance companies have apps that make it fast and easy to report car accidents.

The apps can help to:

  • Take photographs
  • Initiate claims
  • Fulfill the reporting requirement with the insurance company
  • Create and send state-required auto crash reports
  • Draw 3-dimensional sketches of the accident scene
  • Collect personal information, driver’s license and insurance information, and more
  • Give a GPS location of the accident scene

Below are just a few of the companies offering car accident reporting apps:

Allstate Mobile
State Farm

Step 5. Michigan No-Fault Insurance Law

Michigan no fault insurance The State of Michigan is a “No-Fault” insurance state, meaning drivers must turn to their own insurance company for compensation from an accident regardless of who was at fault.

What Does Michigan no-fault insurance cover?

Every Michigan no-fault insurance policy is required to offer Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which pays most or all of the insured’s injury-related costs.

These include:

  • All medical bills related to the accident
  • Up to 85% of lost wages due to an injury (for up to 3 years)
  • Up to $20 per day for replacement services
  • Benefits are capped at $4,929 per month
  • Up to $1,000,000 in property damage to others’ personal property

What are Replacement Services?

The replacement services coverage under Michigan’s no-fault system will pay up to $20 per day for household services you previously performed for yourself, but are now unable to perform because of your injuries.

That’s $600 each month to pay for others to take care of such things as housekeeping, lawn and garden maintenance, car maintenance, meal preparation, child care, and the cost of travel.

Replacement services benefits will only be paid for up to 3 years after the accident.

How much insurance am I required to carry in Michigan?

Drivers in Michigan are required to purchase the following minimum amounts of no-fault coverage:

  • $20,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $40,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $10,000 per accident for property damage

Does Michigan no-fault insurance pay for pain and suffering?

In most cases, Michigan’s no-fault insurance coverage does not include compensation for pain and suffering.

However, there is one exception.

If an injured person meets the “threshold requirement”, they can avoid the no-fault requirement of filing a claim with their own insurance company. Instead, they can choose to seek compensation for pain and suffering directly from the at-fault driver.

To meet the threshold requirement, an injured person must have “suffered death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.”

For more information on Michigan’s no-fault coverage read the Michigan Department of Insurance Explanation of No-Fault Insurance.

Step 6. Michigan Comparative Negligence Law

Michigan comparative negligence Michigan has adopted the Modified Comparative Fault System, sometimes referred to as the “51% Bar.”

Under this system, and in conjunction with Michigan’s no-fault laws, each driver may be held responsible for damages sustained in the accident in proportion to each driver’s percentage of fault.

A victim filing a property damage or personal injury claim will be entitled to recover damages from the at-fault driver as long as the victim’s own comparative fault was not greater than 50%.

If their portion of blame for the accident is determined to be 51% or higher, Michigan law prohibits them from recovering any compensation from the other driver.

What are some examples of how Comparative Negligence works?

Here are three scenarios:

Example #1: One driver is entirely to blame for the accident:

Jeffrey was late for work. He was headed North on Boyle Street.

When Jeffrey came upon the intersection of Boyle and Main Street, the light had just turned red. Instead of stopping, Jeffrey accelerated, running through the red light and crashing into Molly’s car as she was heading East on Main Street.

Molly sustained multiple, complex fractures to her right tibia and fibula requiring the doctors to implant pins to hold the bones together. The doctors said she would likely have a slight limp the rest of her life.

Molly’s injuries were deemed to be serious impairment of body function, thereby qualifying under Michigan’s threshold exception.

In this case Jeffrey was 100% at fault, entitling Molly to 100% of her damages.

Example #2: The driver and victim share some blame for the accident:

Molly was driving home on US-24 in the southbound right lane.

Darrel was behind her and decided to pass, so he signaled and moved into the left lane. He increased his speed and after moving ahead of Molly’s car, Darrel signaled his intention to move back to the right lane.

As he did, he struck the front of Molly’s car, causing both cars to crash.

Michigan Highway Patrol was dispatched to the scene. Darrell was ticketed by the trooper in violation of Michigan Vehicle Code 257.636 (a) Section 2 which reads in part:

“The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a safe distance to the left of that vehicle, and when safely clear of the overtaken vehicle shall take up a position as near the right-hand edge of the main traveled portion of the highway as is practicable.”

However, Molly was also ticketed by the trooper in violation of Michigan Vehicle Code 257.636(b), which read in part:

Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his or her vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Molly’s injuries qualified under Michigan’s No-fault Threshold as a serious impairment of body function.

Molly retained an attorney who filed a lawsuit against Darrell for $100,000, for her injuries, pain and suffering.

During the trial, the jury heard evidence that Darrell was ticketed for trying to move into Molly’s lance before it was clear.

The jury also heard evidence from a witness who said she saw Molly speed up after Darrel was past her, preventing him from safely moving back in front of her car.

In their verdict the jury found Darrel’s comparative negligence in causing the accident amounted to 75%, and Molly’s portion of negligence at 25%.

Under Michigan comparative negligence rules, Molly was awarded $75,000, representing  a 25% deduction to her claim’s value for her share of blame for the crash.

Example #3: The victim’s share of blame for the accident is over 51%:

At trial Darrell and his witnesses testified he was well ahead of Molly as he attempted to move back into the right lane in front of her. Darrell also gave an audible signal to Molly, as he slowly moved back into the right lane in front of her.

The witnesses testified that not only did Molly accelerate, but she appeared to have purposely attempted to block Darrell from re-entering the right lane.

In this case the jury apportioned Molly’s comparative fault at 55%.

Under Michigan’s Comparative Fault statute, because Molly’s negligence was apportioned at 55%, she was prohibited by law from recovering any compensation from Darrell or his insurance company.

The same would have applied if the jury had apportioned Molly’s comparative negligence at 51% or higher.

Step 7. When to Hire an Attorney

Michigan hire attorney self representSome personal injury claims can be handled by a victim without legal representation. But there are others which always require an experienced attorney.

What’s the difference between “soft tissue” and “hard injuries”?

When it comes to car accidents there are two  types of injuries. They are “soft tissue,” and “hard injuries.”

Soft tissue injuries include strains and sprains to ligaments, tendons, muscles, minor bruising and abrasions, cuts not requiring stitches, first degree burns, whiplash, and other relatively minor injuries.

Because soft tissue injuries generally don’t run up large treatment bills, and don’t involve complex legal issues, a victim can negotiate their own injury claim with the insurance company.

In most soft tissue injuries, there may not be enough compensation to make it worth hiring an attorney.

Hard injuries are much more serious. They can include head trauma, fractures, third degree burns, deep gashes requiring stitches, and other injuries requiring expensive and specialized medical care.

Compensation for a serious injury claim can be substantial.

There’s just too much to lose by representing yourself.

You may think you can be just as effective as an experienced personal injury attorney, but you’ll likely end up settling for an amount substantially less than an attorney could have obtained for you, even after attorney’s fees are deducted.

Insurance companies know claimants who go it alone can only negotiate so far.

While the claims adjuster may lead you to believe you’re an expert negotiator, the hard truth is that insurance companies offer much smaller settlements to claimants who are not represented by an attorney.

At some point in the negotiations, the claims adjuster is going to say, “That’s our final offer.” Suddenly your leverage is gone, and at that point it’s take it, or leave it.

Hard injury claims often require filing a lawsuit. Insurance companies don’t like lawsuits. They know once a lawsuit is filed they’ll have to pay substantial legal fees to defense attorneys. They’d rather negotiate with your attorney than run up huge defense bills going all the way to trial.

Lawsuits involve pretrial discovery, including depositions, interrogatories, subpoenas for production of documents, and more.

Through the discovery process, your personal injury attorney can learn what the at-fault driver’s policy limits are, whether the driver has a past record of traffic accidents, traffic tickets, prior arrests, prior lawsuits, and much more vital information you wouldn’t easily be able to get on your own.

How much do personal injury attorneys charge?

Reputable personal injury attorneys don’t charge for initial office consultations. When you find an attorney who will accept your case, the attorney will agree to represent you on a “contingency fee” basis.

A contingency fee means you do not have to pay the attorney any legal fees until the attorney successfully settles your case or wins it at trial.

If your attorney fails to settle your claim or loses at trial, you’re not required to pay attorneys fees or court costs.

Contingency fees can range from 25% to 40% depending on the time it will take to resolve the case, the complexity, the attorney’s outlay of costs, and whether or not the case has to be tried in front of a jury.

How do I chose a good attorney?

Talk to several personal injury attorneys in your area.

When you meet with an attorney, bring copies of your medical records and bills, the accident report, photographs, witness statements and other documents related to the accident.

The attorney will review your documents and ask questions. After talking with you, the attorney can give you their opinion of the value of your claim, whether or not they believe then claim will settle, or if the claim may have to be tried in court.

Step 8. Small Claims Court and You

Michigan small claims courtIf you’ve had no success in settling your property damage claim, you may consider filing a lawsuit in Michigan Small Claims Court.

Small claims courts are designed to give people a less formal way to have their cases heard before a judge.

How much can I sue for in Michigan small claims court?

Michigan’s Small Claims Courts hear cases valued up to $6,000.

When would I consider suing in small claims court?

Michigan’s no-fault insurance system does not require drivers to file property damage claims with their own insurance company.

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident, you can pursue the at-fault driver to recover the cost of your property damage.

When it comes to property damage claims in Michigan you have three options:

  • File a property damage claim with your own insurance company
  • File a property damage claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
  • Sue the at-fault driver

How can I find out more about filing a lawsuit in small claims court? 

To learn more about filing a lawsuit in one of Michigan’s Small Claims Courts, visit the Michigan Small Claims Court website.

Step 9. The Statute of Limitations

Michigan statute limitations“Statute of Limitations” refers to the time period in which you have to either settle your car accident claim, or file a lawsuit.

If the statute of limitations expires and you haven’t settled your claim or filed a lawsuit, you forever lose your legal right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver or the driver’s insurance company.

What’s the Michigan statute of limitations for car accident claims? 

The Michigan statute of limitations for personal injury or property damage claims is three (3) years.

In almost all cases, the statute of limitations period begins on the date of the accident.

Whatif the insurance company won’t cooperate?

Insurance companies and the claim adjusters who work for them have no legal obligation to settle your claim or remind you the statute of limitations is about to expire.

You can be sure the claims adjuster won’t call, email, or text to tell you the deadline is approaching. They know if you haven’t settled your claim or sued their insured before the statute runs out, they win.

Enter the statute of limitations deadline into your cell phone, iPad, calendar, on your refrigerator, or any other place to remind yourself of this important date.

If the statute of limitations is about to expire and you haven’t settled your injury claim, you can only preserve your right to compensation by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Don’t wait until the deadline is looming to protect your claim. It costs nothing to find out what a personal injury attorney can do for you.

Visitor Questions on Michigan Car Accidents

Charles R. Gueli, Esq. is a personal injury attorney with over 20 years of legal experience. He’s admitted to the NY State Bar, and been named a Super Lawyer for the NY Metro area, an exclusive honor awarded to the top five percent of attorneys. Charles has worked extensively in the areas of auto accidents,... Read More >>