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Damages – Injuries from a Car Accident

car-accident-injury-damagesIf you’re injured in a car accident in Michigan, you may recover damages from the at-fault driver (usually paid by the driver’s insurance company). These damages are not included in the no-fault PIP benefits that you’re entitled to receive from your own insurance company.

Under the Michigan no-fault law, persons injured in auto accidents can bring a liability claim against the negligent driver who caused their injury. In this lawsuit — called a “liability claim” or an “auto negligence claim” — car crash victims can seek two types of damages: 1) non-economic loss damages and 2) excess economic loss damages.

Injured In A Car Accident? You May Recover Non-Economic Loss Damages

If you’re injured in an auto accident, non-economic loss damages are the losses that affect your quality of life. They include:

  • pain and suffering.
  • incapacity.
  • disability.
  • loss of function.
  • diminished social pleasure and enjoyment.
  • mental anguish and emotional distress.
  • scarring and disfigurement.

It’s important to remember that, in order to bring a claim for non-economic loss damages, your injuries must satisfy Michigan’s “threshold injury” requirement. Because the standard for what constitutes a “threshold injury” is subject to change, it is important to seek the advice of an auto accident attorney in Michigan, who can help determine whether your injuries will let you pursue a claim for non-economic loss damages.

Excess Economic Loss Damages When You’re Injured In An Auto Accident

Excess economic loss damages are the past, present and future expenses that are not covered by your no-fault PIP benefits when you’re injured in a car accident. These include damages for lost wages that exceed the 85% statutory maximum for PIP benefits, or wage loss beyond the three-year period covered by PIP benefits.

According to the Michigan Supreme Court in Johnson v Recca, 492 Mich 169 (2012), excess economic loss damages do not include expenses for replacement services beyond what is covered by an injured individual’s PIP benefits.

It’s important to note that, unlike claims for non-economic loss damages, you do not need not show a “threshold injury” in order to recover damages for excess economic loss. This means you can collect damages for your excess economic loss even if your injuries do not rise to the level of “serious impairment of body function” or “permanent serious disfigurement.”

Car Crash Damages: Why Lawyers Need To Understand The Total Impact

When it comes to assessing the damages suffered by a person injured in a car accident, Michigan auto accident attorneys too often compartmentalize the victim’s injuries into two “silos”: 1) objective evidence of the injuries and 2) the lifetime impact of the injuries.

Medical research shows that a change in one aspect of a person’s lifestyle has significant ripple effects throughout that person’s entire body. As such, it is important that attorneys, while advocating for the rights of injured persons, also understand all these ripple effects on the accident victim’s way of life.

At Sinas Dramis, our Grand Rapids car accident lawyers and Lansing auto accident attorneys fully appreciate the downstream health consequences that often go along with a serious injury in a car accident.

Beware Of Insurance Policies That Limit Auto Accident Damages

During the past several years, some Michigan auto insurance companies have begun using a rather troublesome tactic to try and limit their damage payouts to the insured’s relatives who are injured in a car accident. The tactic that’s being used is called a  “step-down” insurance clause.

Step-down insurance clauses treat family members of the insured who are injured in an auto accident harsher than total strangers. What’s even worse, these clauses are often included in no-fault insurance policies without the knowledge of the insured. Oftentimes, the insured doesn’t find out about the policy’s limiting language until it’s too late — that is, after a family member is seriously injured in a car crash.

In this video, Grand Rapids auto accident lawyer Tom Sinas discusses step-down insurance clauses and how they can be a family’s worst nightmare.