I Was Injured. Can I File A Lawsuit Against The Party That Caused My Injury?

In general, when a person is injured as a result of another person's negligence, the injured party may pursue a claim against the party or parties that caused the injuries. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if it is found that a defendant was negligent and that such negligence was a cause of your injury. Any personal injury case depends on liability, damages, and whether or not you can collect from the negligent party or parties. Michigan recognizes the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, with one small exception. A claimant's negligence does not bar recovery, but it causes damages to be reduced by the claimant's percentage of fault. The exception is that if the claimant's fault is greater than the collective fault of all other persons, whether or not they are parties, then he cannot recover any non­economic damages.

Personal injury law attempts to cover all areas and types of injuries suffered by individuals. Some of the most common areas are automobile accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, and product liability, among others. Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury.

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS

In Michigan, the law provides for mandatory no­fault automobile liability insurance coverage, also referred to as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), for all owners of motor vehicles in Michigan. This means that your own insurance carrier will provide coverage of all reasonable expenses incurred regardless of who was at fault for the accident. You will be reimbursed for medical expenses for your care, recovery and rehabilitation for life; 85% of wage losses up to a monthly maximum for up to three years; replacement services (such as domestic help) up to $20 per day for up to three years; and in the case of death, survivor benefits for up to three years and a one time death benefit. PIP benefits come in either full or excess coverage. If you have excess (or coordinated) benefits, your no­fault carrier may be secondary to your health insurance or disability coverage. No­fault benefits do not include compensation for damages such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of earning capacity, etc. With a motorcyclist, the other vehicle may be responsible for paying your first party benefits.

All bills and requests for payment must be submitted to the no­fault carrier within one year of the date that they are incurred. It is important to know that the statute of limitations for no­fault benefits is one year from the date of the expense. This means that in order to protect your rights and force the insurance company to pay a medical bill, a lawsuit must be filed within one year of incurring the expense.

Liability insurance coverage is also mandatory in Michigan. The mandatory minimum liability coverage in Michigan is $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident bodily injury liability, and $10,000 property damage liability. If you have suffered serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, you may have a claim for additional damages against the party who was at fault. The party at fault may be responsible for excess wage loss benefits, replacement service expenses or survivors loss benefits not already payable under Michigan No­Fault law as described above. If your injury is a "serious impairment of bodily function" or "permanent and serious disfigurement", the party at fault may be responsible for pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability and disfigurement, and loss of pleasures and enjoyments of life. If death occurs, the family can institute a "wrongful death" claim against the person or persons who were at fault.

If you are in an automobile accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault or involved in a hit and run, you are still entitled to your no­fault benefits. If you purchased uninsured motorist coverage, you may receive compensation for your pain and suffering from this portion of your insurance policy. You are still subject to the same requirement of suffering death, serious impairment of bodily function or serious disfigurement

Generally, people who operate motor vehicles must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. Failure to use reasonable care is the basis for most lawsuits for damages caused by an automobile accident. In these cases, proof of fault is often contested and requires thorough investigation. A driver may also be liable for an accident caused by intentional or reckless conduct. A reckless driver is one who drives unsafely, with willful disregard for the probability that the driving may cause an accident. Liability claims are usually the subject of negotiation between your lawyer and the liability insurer for the negligent party. Lawsuits are generally filed when negotiations fail. If you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver, your attorney will need to prove that the other party was negligent and that the other party's negligence caused injuries that resulted in compensable damages. Be careful when dealing with the other party's insurance company because they may try to rush you into a settlement before you can adequately evaluate the extent of your damages.

PREMISES LIABILITY

If you were injured at someone else's home or a commercial establishment, the person or entity responsible for the premises may be found liable. This can cover a variety of situations including slip and falls, dog bites, assaults, among others. The person liable for your damages is the party in control of the property. That party is responsible for the care, maintenance and inspection of the property. For example, an owner may not be the responsible party if he or she has leased the property to another party who actually has control over the premises.

In general, it is the duty of an owner to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of the premises and to warn a visitor of any dangerous conditions that are known, or should be known to him, if the conditions are not likely to be perceived by the visitor. Factors used to determine whether the owner exercised reasonable care in maintaining the property includes (a) the foreseeability of harm to others; (b) the magnitude of the risks of injury to others if the property is kept in its current condition; (c) the benefit to an individual or to society of maintaining the property in its current condition; and (d) the cost and inconvenience of providing adequate protection.

The owner or operator of the property must have notice of the defect or circumstances that caused your injury prior to the injury having occurred. The notice can either be actual notice or implied notice, meaning the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition given all of the surrounding facts and circumstances. If a hazard cannot be eliminated, the owner has a duty to warn of the hazards he is aware of or should be aware of. The owner must have had the ability and opportunity to correct the problem or warn of its existence, and negligently failed to do so. The property owner does not have to immediately fix a hazard. He or she has a reasonable amount of time to rectify a dangerous condition. The property owner can argue that the victim is responsible for his or her own accident because they saw the hazard and were negligent in avoiding it.

The duty of a possessor of land to the injured person may vary depending on the status of the person at the time of the injury. Business owners typically have the highest responsibility to those who are invited onto their premises. Homeowners also have a duty to their guests. The standard of care owed to an adult trespasser is less than that owed to a person who has permission to be on the property. An owner may be liable, however, if he maintains a condition that causes injury to a trespassing child.

PRODUCT LIABILITY

Product Liability

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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