Pedestrian Accidents & Negligence Claims
If the driver of the motor vehicle that caused injury to a pedestrian was negligent, Michigan law allows them to bring a negligence claim against the driver and his or her insurer. In this negligence lawsuit, the injured person may recover non-economic damages — sometimes called “pain and suffering” damages.
Injured pedestrians may also make a claim for damages against the at-fault driver for “excess economic loss.” These damages compensate the victim for the losses suffered that extend beyond the three-year cap on no-fault PIP benefits, and may include excess wage loss for someone who remains unable to work.
In addition, dependents of the injured pedestrian, such as spouses or children, may be entitled to bring a claim against the at-fault driver, to recover for the losses they suffered as a result of the pedestrian’s injuries.
Establishing A Driver’s Negligence
To be eligible to collect non-economic damages and excess economic damages, the injured pedestrian must show that the driver of the motor vehicle was negligent, and that the driver’s negligence was responsible for causing the pedestrian’s injuries.
As a general rule, a driver has a legal duty to abide by the law, including the traffic laws of the jurisdiction in which he or she is driving. When a driver fails to abide by these laws and this failure results in an injury to someone else, that conduct is normally considered legal negligence.
Many types of evidence may be used to establish that a driver was negligent. Such evidence may include:
- reports, video or testimony from a police officer who investigated the accident.
- testimony from eyewitnesses to the accident.
- surveillance video that shows how the accident occurred.
- the victim’s testimony regarding his or her recollection of the events.
- reports from accident reconstructionists or private investigators regarding the accident.
- Learn more about negligence suits (also called “tort claims“) against at-fault drivers.
The Threshold Injury Requirement
In addition to establishing the other driver’s negligence, to recover non-economic damages an injured pedestrian must also show that the injuries amounted to a “threshold injury.”
Section 3135 of the No-Fault Act says a threshold injury may be established by showing that the injury consists of one or more of the following:
- serious impairment of a body function;
- permanent serious disfigurement; or
The types of injuries that will satisfy these categories is a subject of constant reinterpretation by the Michigan courts. As a result, any person who has suffered an injury stemming from a motor vehicle accident is encouraged to consult a Michigan auto accident attorney with experience in handling no-fault claims.
It is also important to understand that the “threshold injury” requirement is only applicable to claims which seek non-economic damages. Claims for excess economic loss need not establish a threshold injury.