Serious Auto Accident Injuries May Require Lawsuit Against the Driver — Even When No-Fault Insurance Pays Medical Bills

Serious auto accidents can result in death, disfigurement or impairment that causes injury victims to be unable to work and/or enjoy life as they used to. In such cases, the damages experienced due to the injuries often far exceed those that no-fault insurance is required to pay and a lawsuit against the driver at fault for the accident is the only way to recover those damages.

In Michigan, no-fault insurance laws require insurance companies to pay all medical costs and expenses incurred by an insured individual for life. However, the law does not require insurance companies to pay for non-economic losses resulting from accident injuries. Other sorts of damages, such as loss of income or replacement services, must be paid by the insurance company but there is a limit on how much they must pay and the rest must be recouped from the at-fault party.

Damages Not Covered by No-Fault Insurance that are Recoverable through a Lawsuit

Non-economic Damages
Non-economic damages are losses and pains suffered by injury victims that don’t have an exact cost attached to them. For example, the humiliation suffered when people look strangely at a person whose face was disfigured in a car accident doesn’t have a bill, invoice or receipt to measure the cost, but the pain and loss of enjoyment for life is real. Michigan no-fault insurance companies are not required to pay these kinds of damages, but Michigan law allows injury victims to pursue them through a lawsuit.

Some of the damages that fall into this category include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Incapacity
  • Loss of function
  • Deprivation of social pleasure and enjoyment
  • Mental anguish and distress
  • Loss of consortium

To be eligible for recovery of non-economic damages in a Michigan personal injury lawsuit, the injuries must be so severe that they cause at least one of the following:

  • Death
  • Permanent serious disfigurement
  • Serious impairment of body function that affects a person’s ability to live his or her normal life

As part of a lawsuit to recover non-economic damages, the victim and his or her personal injury attorney must prove that the victim’s injuries meet at least one of the above “threshold” criteria. Otherwise, the injury victim will be ineligible for recovery of non-economic damages.

Excess Economic damages
Some economic damages (damages that have a definitive and documented dollar value) must be paid by no-fault insurance but only to a certain level or for a certain amount of time. These include loss of income due to inability to work and earn a living and the cost of replacement services, which are services purchased to perform work around the home that the victim would normally do if able to.

No-fault insurance companies are required to pay up to 85% of an injury victim’s lost wages to a maximum of about $5,000 per month and for only three years. An injured person who makes more than $60,000 per year or who is unable to work because of an injury-induced impairment for more than three years must recover the additional lost income through a tort liability lawsuit against the driver at fault.

For replacement services, which could include a housekeeper or someone who does chores around the house or lawn-mowing services, insurance companies are required to pay a maximum of $20 per day for no more than three years. Any costs above $20 per day or beyond three years for replacement services must be pursued in court.

A person’s injuries do not need to meet the “threshold” requirements to pursue excess economic damages. Only claims for non-economic damages must meet the threshold requirement.

The Detroit car accident attorneys at Sachs Waldman, P.C., have extensive experience pursuing non-economic damages and excess economic damages that at-fault parties are liable for. We can help you identify your damages and their potential value as well as prove your case in court. Call our Detroit personal injury lawyers’ office at 1-800-638-6722 to schedule a free consultation.           

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