Cars transport us to work, school, shopping and recreational activities. We rely on automobiles for the convenience and ease of transportation. Most motor vehicle owners are safe and law abiding drivers. But a serious car accident caused by a careless driver can turn your life upside down. Car accidents resulted in more than 1,350 injuries and 44 deaths in Southwest Michigan in 2010. Each of those accidents affected one or more families in our community.
6 Steps to Take After a
Car Accident in Michigan
How you react at the scene of a car accident and days afterward may have a significant impact on your ability to get compensation for the medical expenses and other bills that follow a car crash.
The attorneys of Conybeare Law Office, P.C., help car accident victims in Michigan obtain the money they need to cover medical bills and compensate them for other damages. The following steps to take after a car accident may help you ensure a proper financial recovery.
Summon emergency assistance#1
First, determine whether you are hurt and, if you can, check on your passengers and the people in the other cars. Call 911 to report the accident to police and request an ambulance if there are injuries.
If you are injured, follow the instructions of emergency medical services personnel. Regardless of the extent of your injuries, see a doctor as soon as possible for a full examination.
Seeing a doctor or going to the emergency room will help ensure that any injuries you have are diagnosed. It will also begin to document the medical treatment you have had because of the car accident
Document the crash scene#2
If you are able, use your cellphone or another camera to take pictures or video of the accident scene.
Photograph the vehicles and their damage, skid marks and other debris on the road, your injuries, passengers’ injuries, and anything else that might tell the story of the car accident. Write down or record names and contact information for passengers and other witnesses.
All of this is evidence that may be helpful if you file a claim. Record it now instead of counting on your memory later.
Exchange driver information#3
Ask the other drivers for their name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, car registration information and insurance information, including the policy number.
Also be sure to get names and contact information for any witnesses to the crash, including passengers in the vehicles involved.
Be polite and businesslike when dealing with others at the crash scene. Do not make accusations and do not accept blame for the accident. Although your first impulse may be to apologize to the others involved, it is better not to make any statements that could be interpreted as an admission of fault.
Cooperate with police#4
If a police officer or state trooper responds to the car accident, fully cooperate with him or her. Answer questions honestly and factually, but do not offer more than what you are asked.
Do not offer opinions about how or why the accident happened. Do not cast or accept blame for the accident.
The police may issue citations to drivers who they believe broke traffic laws. While this may be evidence of fault, keep in mind that the police do not decide civil liability for car accidents. That is up to the civil justice system.
Contact your insurance company#5
You must contact your auto insurance provider to file a claim. Call the number on your insurance card and ask to open a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) file.
Answer questions, but stick to the facts. Do not minimize the extent of your injuries or the damage to your vehicle. If you hear from the other driver’s insurance company, refer them to your insurer.
The insurance company may ask you to provide a recorded statement about how the accident happened. Do not agree to this without the advice of an attorney. Also do not sign anything an insurance company representative presents you without first discussing it with your lawyer.
Contact a Michigan car accident attorney#6
The Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Act complicates claims for serious car accidents. While no-fault rules make it easier to obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and loss of services, it can make it harder to be compensated fairly for severe injuries such as permanent disfigurement or serious impairment of body functions, or for pain and suffering.
After a car accident in Michigan, a personal injury attorney from the Conybeare Law Offices can help you protect your rights to appropriate compensation for your losses.
Call us now or fill out our online contact form for a free initial consultation
If you are injured in a car accident, it’s important to have a lawyer who is experienced in representing car accident claims review your injury and explain your legal rights. Conybeare Law Office assists victims of personal injury in Berrien County, Van Buren County, Cass County, Niles, St. Joseph, South Haven, Dowagiac and Benton Harbor. We provide personalized legal representation to each client.
Help is a phone call away. Contact us today at (269) 983-0561 or (800) 983-0561 for a no-charge consultation. Every personal injury case, large or small, is important to us. We work on a contingency fee basis. You will not pay any attorney fees unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.
How a Southwest Michigan Lawyer Can Help After a Car Accident
Car accidents account for the majority of traffic injuries and deaths in Southwest Michigan. Speeding, reckless driving, inattention, talking on a cell phone and fatigue are often the cause. Weather and road conditions, rural roads without posted speed limits, and highway maintenance issues might also contribute. The personal injury attorneys at Conybeare Law Office know the roadways of Southwest Michigan and the police agencies that investigate car accidents.
How Michigan’s No-Fault Law Applies to Your Car Accident
Before Michigan’s No-Fault Act was adopted in 1973, a person wrongfully injured in a motor vehicle accident had to look to the negligent driver to recover damages caused by an accident. These damages included both economic (wage loss, medical expenses, vehicle damage, or property damages), and non-economic (pain and suffering, loss of companionship, etc.) damages. Often, because of the financial strain of accident-related bills, this forced accident victims to file lawsuits soon after an accident.
The No-Fault Act eases the burden of having to file a lawsuit to recover basic economic losses. Under the No-Fault Act, an injured person’s damages are divided into two categories – economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages are normally paid by the injured person’s own insurance company without regard to fault in the accident (thus the name no-fault insurance). The types of economic damages that an injured claimant can collect from a no-fault insurer include wage loss, medical expenses, and loss of services. The allowable medical expenses include whatever is required for an injured person’s care, recovery or rehabilitation, including mileage and transportation costs. The only economic loss damages recoverable against the driver at fault are those that exceed the limits available under no-fault insurance.
Limited economic losses and all non-economic damages are recoverable from the driver and/or owner of the motor vehicle at fault in the accident. However, the Michigan No-Fault Act limits pain and suffering damages to claims involving death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement. If an injury does not meet this threshold there is no claim for non-economic loss damages against the party at fault in the accident. This is a highly challenged area of Michigan law, and a key focus of Conybeare Law Office in representing persons wrongfully injured in motor vehicle accidents.
The no-fault law is complicated. Any victim of a car accident in Southwest Michigan will benefit from contacting our law firm to understand their legal rights. Whether or not we represent you, there is no charge for the initial consultation.
At Conybeare Law Office we will review your case and advise you of your ability to seek compensation for your personal injury. Our lawyers are skilled at negotiating settlements with insurance companies to cover your medical bills and compensate you for your damages. We handle many types of auto accident claims, from the more modest to the million-dollar claims. Each client gets the personalized legal representation they deserve.
Since 1984, Conybeare Law Office has served the legal needs of residents of Southwest Michigan. If you’ve had an injury due to someone else’s neglect, contact one of our personal injury attorneys at (269) 983-0561 or (800) 983-0561.