Michigan’s No Fault law has become increasingly difficult for injured people during recent years, due to the automobile insurance industry’s lobbying. You must remember that the insurance company is not there to help you most of the time. The company is trying to save money, often by getting you to give up many of your rights unknowingly. Because insurance companies have become very aggressive in denying victims’ claims, we strongly recommend you make no statements to insurance adjusters about the crash or your injuries until you have spoken with a personal injury attorney. You should also check to see if you have what is called “un/underinsured motorist coverage.” This may help you in your right to recover fair compensation, and it would be found in your own insurance coverage paperwork.
There are two important types of claims: First-party claims involve claims usually under your own insurance policy for medical bills, wage loss, and services. Third-party claims involve claims against a driver who caused the victim’s injuries. We have taken many, many car crash cases to trial, and obtained verdicts as well as settlements. The No Fault Act citation is MCL 500.3101 et seq. The statute of limitations for filing a claim for medical bills/wage/services/property is generally 1 year; the statute of limitations for filing a claim for automobile negligence against the person causing the crash is generally 3 years, although there are some exceptions.
Do not let an insurance company representative convince you to wait for negotiations to be completed, because the courts have held that a suit may expire regardless of what the insurance adjuster tells you.
A propane gas tanker truck was going through a wet curve too fast in northern Michigan and lost control of the trailer. It crossed the centerline hitting a retired couple coming the other way. The crash caused severe pelvic, leg and foot injuries as well as nerve damage. The semi driver claimed a “phantom” car had crossed the centerline causing him to take evasive action and lose control of the trailer. We were able to prove there was no “phantom vehicle” and that the semi driver violated many basic safety rules causing the crash. The jury verdict was for pain and suffering only, and stands as the largest injury verdict in northwest Michigan ever.
A commercially owned truck was towing a trailer that had not been safely attached to the truck. The trailer broke away from the truck, crossed the centerline and crashed into an oncoming truck. The crash caused a broken femur needing a rod to be surgically implanted and ultimately a knee replacement and lower back surgery. The commercial truck driver claimed the trailer hitch failed, but we were able to prove that it was not safely set up to begin with.
A young man was killed on a bicycle when struck from behind at night by a 16-year old driving his father’s company car. The 16-year old claimed that the bicyclist swerved out in front of him, causing the crash. However, we were able to prove that the 16-year had a long history of smoking marijuana, and had just smoked some 30 minutes before hitting and killing the bicyclist.
A young man was killed during a wedding reception road trip when the vehicle he was riding in crashed due to driver intoxication. The issue of permissive use was key, and it took extensive discovery (depositions and investigation) to establish that the car owner had given permission for the car to be driven. Investigation was also important in determining who was driving the car at the time of the crash.
A young girl driving home suffered soft tissue injuries and a mild brain injury when a drunk driver ran a red light, broad-siding her. The key to the case in obtaining such a favorable settlement was working with her doctors to understand the impact this mild brain injury and soft tissue damages to her back had on her life. Also, through good legal work, the judge ruled that we could bring up the fact that the driver was drunk, something usually not allowed in Michigan.
* These automobile injury cases are chosen from many more, to illustrate some of the variety of the issues we have dealt with.
Fifth Third Bank Building
102 West Front Street, Suite 401
Traverse City, MI 49684
Ringsmuth Wuori PLLC is a member of the National law firm Advocates United and handles Michigan-based AU cases