Being involved in a motor vehicle accident or pedestrian – motor vehicle accident can be a scary time. Unfortunately, the State of Michigan has also made it a rather difficult situation to tackle on your own. At Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C., we specialize in and have years of experience handling these cases, ensuring that our clients are afforded each and every benefit to which they are entitled.
Every motor vehicle accident or pedestrian – motor vehicle accident in Michigan can potentially involve two separate claims.First Party PIP Benefits
Michigan is a No-Fault state. What this means is that each person involved in a motor vehicle accident or pedestrian – motor vehicle accident is entitled to certain personal protection insurance (“PIP”) benefits no matter who caused the accident to occur. Even if you do not have automobile insurance, you may be entitled to receive these benefits.
These benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical Expenses
- Medical Mileage / Transportation
- Lost Wages
- Household Replacement Services
- Attendant Care Services
- Other Allowable Expenses
According to the Michigan No-Fault Act, an injured person is entitled to receive allowable expenses consisting of all reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services and accommodations for their care, recovery or rehabilitation from injuries or conditions that arise from the accident at issue. This is a life-time benefit, meaning there is no maximum dollar amount or time limit when the benefit runs out. If a person is in need of an allowable expense thirty years after an accident occurs, or much longer down the road, they are still entitled to this benefit.
In addition to the above, for the first three (3) years after an accident, an injured person is entitled to lost wages and an expense of $20 per day incurred for ordinary and necessary services which the injured person is no longer able to perform because of the accident. (Like cutting the grass, doing the laundry or taking out the garbage for example.)
While this all sounds simple, the insurance companies can make it extremely difficult to obtain the benefits to which you may be entitled to. A vast majority of cases result in an injured party being sent to an “independent” medical examination performed by a doctor hired by the insurance company. We can assure you, despite the name given by the insurance companies, these doctors are anything but “independent.” The insurance company will likely use the opinions from these doctors to deny benefits, claiming the benefits are no longer reasonable, necessary, or related to the motor vehicle accident in question.
Make no mistake, most insurers are looking for a reason not to pay your benefits. They are hoping to find inconsistencies in the paperwork that is filled out compared to any statement that was given or, in many cases, surveillance video that was captured. There are no harmless errors when it comes to insurance companies. Many will deny a person’s entire claim based on the smallest mistake.
At Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C., we will stand by you and fight the insurance companies every step of the way. This includes making sure benefits are claimed from the proper insurer, the necessary paperwork is meticulously filled out, rebutting the “independent” opinions of the insurance company’s doctor, and any other action that is required to ensure you get the benefits you are entitled to. This is not a fight you want to be in alone, and we are here to help.
The law requires you to make a claim with the insurance company within one (1) year from when an accident occurs and precludes a person from claiming benefits incurred more than one (1) year before a lawsuit is initiated. Although this sounds like a lot of time, our clients are surprised by how fast time flies after an accident. So, to avoid losing these important benefits be sure to call us immediately.Third Party Claims
In addition to the above benefits, you may have a second claim as a result of the motor vehicle accident or pedestrian – motor vehicle accident you were involved in. If you are less than 50% at-fault for the accident in question, you may be entitled to make a claim against the driver(s) or person(s) who is primarily at-fault for causing the accident to occur. This may be a claim with that driver(s) or person(s) insurance company or, if they did not carry insurance, or have very low limits your own insurance company for what are called Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Benefits.
While this portion of the claim is typically referred to as compensation for “pain & suffering,” that name is actually a misnomer. Under the Michigan No-Fault Act, being in pain along does not entitle a person to compensation. In order to have a valid claim under Michigan law, the injured party must suffer death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement. Death and permanent serious disfigurement are fairly straightforward, and most litigation of this area revolves around this “serious impairment of body function.”
Pursuant to Michigan Law, in order to establish a claim for “serious impairment of body function,” an injured party must be able to establish three (3) things:
- An objectively manifested impairment;
- Of an important body function;
- That affects the claimant’s general ability to lead his/her normal life.
It is the effect on the general ability to lead your normal life that becomes the most important when determining if the threshold has been met and, if so, the amount of compensation for which you may be entitled. To determine the effect, we look to a person’s life before and after the subject accident.
In addition to the above non-economic damages, a person may also be entitled to what is known as excess-economic damages. While a person is entitled to first-party wage loss benefits no matter who was at-fault in an accident, this benefit is capped at approximately $5,300 per month and is only available for the first three years after an accident. So, what happens if a person is earning more than $5,300 per month or a person is unable to work as a result of an accident for more than three years? The excess of what can be claimed in your first-party case can be claimed in your third-party case.
Call our experienced attorneys at Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C. to discuss your claim immediately. This portion of your claim is governed by numerous court decisions and insurance contract. We have the knowledge and experience to navigate these decisions and contracts to make sure you are aware of your rights and responsibilities to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Don’t wait to call, as the law prevents Third-Party claims from being made more than three (3) years after an accident takes place. However, the first few months after an accident are often the most important period in your care and this is the time to seek legal counsel.
Call us today for a free consultation and learn about our no fee guarantee. We don’t get paid unless we win.
At Serafini, Michalowski Derkacz & Associates, P.C. we are here to help. We are here to fight for what you are entitled to.