In Michigan, just like elsewhere in the United States, accidents are inevitable across various areas and sectors. In fact, about 3% of the state’s workforce suffered nonfatal job-related injuries and illnesses in 2021. This translated to around 86,700 recorded cases, with almost 52,000 being severe.
Traffic crashes are also a familiar occurrence, killing over 183 pedestrians during the same year and being the highest in a decade. The month of October tends to be the most dangerous time of the year in the state for pedestrians since there are a lot of fall events and social festivities happening. These result in higher alcohol consumption, which consequently increases impaired driving accidents on the road.
To reduce the chances of accidents and injuries, Michigan has established the Core Violence and Injury Prevention Program. It primarily focuses on mitigating some of the main causes of injuries in the state, which include motor vehicle crashes. State actors understand that these are causing major public health concerns among residents and are also notably reflected as leading causes of death in Michigan.
In addition to forming different initiatives, the state continues to strengthen its laws on personal injury to safeguard the well-being of its constituents and ensure they get the compensation they deserve if they are severely harmed in an accident.
This article will delve into some of the facets of these personal injury laws in the state; it will discuss the no-fault insurance system, existing legislation regarding different scenarios that cause injury, and some resources catering to injured victims.
Michigan’s Car Accident Laws
In the past five years, Michigan has seen a 6% drop in car accidents, from over 312,700 in 2018 down to 293,341 in 2022. But despite this decline, the number of car accidents resulting in deaths has steadily increased.
As such, residents should be more aware when it comes to practicing responsible driving habits and protecting themselves while on the road. When a car accident occurs, there are also certain rules to be followed. For instance, if it results in injuries, fatalities, or property damage exceeding $1,000, individuals are obligated to report it to the police immediately.
The No-Fault Car Insurance System in Michigan
To be able to drive legally in Michigan, drivers are required to purchase no-fault car insurance to help safeguard their finances and provide them with coverage when an accident occurs, regardless of whether they are at fault for the incident or not.
Under the law, individuals can be charged with a misdemeanor if they drive without insurance and will be fined up to $500. They may also be suspended for 30 days until they purchase their own insurance premiums.
Every driver’s basic insurance policy is composed of three parts:
Personal Injury Protection: PIP will take care of an individual’s reasonable medical expenses up to the maximum coverage indicated in their policy if injured or hurt in an accident. One can choose from any of the following insurance options:
$500,000 for every individual involved in an accident
$250,000 per individual per accident
$50,000 per individual per accident
No medical PIP coverage at all.
Property Protection: This pays for the damages worth up to $1 million that a policyholder’s car causes to other people’s properties. If one’s car damages someone’s properly parked vehicle, this plan will cover the costs as well.
Bodily Injury and Property Damage: BI/PD coverage is used when a policyholder causes a car accident and the injured party does not have enough insurance to cover their treatment expenses. It can also be used when the accident leads to someone’s death and one needs to pay for the damages. BI/PD has different coverages depending on the insurance provider, but it should be noted that these are what’s typically included in the plan:
Up to $250,000 for a person injured or killed in an accident
Up to $500,000 for each accident if more than one person is hurt or killed
Up to $10,000 for property damage in another state.
No-Fault Insurance for Family Members
Since the state follows the no-fault system, are the family members of policyholders also covered? Simply put, yes, all family members residing in the policyholder's household are covered. In the event that they get involved in an accident — whether as a passenger in someone else’s car or as a pedestrian — PIP benefits should still apply.
Government Negligence Rules in Michigan
Let’s say a government employee is operating a government-owned vehicle and accidentally hits a pedestrian, leaving them with minor injuries. Can the pedestrian sue the government for their injuries?
In this specific situation, the pedestrian might not be able to sue the government if the alleged negligent actions by the government employee occurred while they were doing their government duties. This is primarily because Michigan law considers the employee's actions as part of their official duties or government function, and the government is protected from such lawsuits.
Under state law, a government function refers to any actions or tasks that a person from the government is supposed to carry out under certain rules and regulations.
Despite this, there are instances where it may still be possible to file a claim against the government as long as the victim can prove that the actions were performed in situations such as these:
If the vehicle was driven carelessly
If dangerous defects on a road led to the accident
If an injury occurred as a result of poorly maintained government properties or buildings
If medical negligence occurred at a government-owned health facility
To be able to file a claim against a local agency or the state government of Michigan, an individual can proceed either to the State Administrative Board or the Michigan Court of Claims, depending on the value of the claim. It would take more than three months to formally file a governmental tort for issues concerning public highways or establishments, while six months is the usual process length for claims directly against the state.
Wrongful Death Laws in Michigan
According to Michigan law, wrongful death refers to situations where a party’s wrongful act, negligence, or mistake results in someone else’s death. Therefore, if someone passes away due to a motor vehicle accident, poisoning, or nursing home abuse, a wrongful death case may be initiated. The victim’s personal representative, who is typically a family member, can file a lawsuit against the responsible party.
To recover damages, which can pay for funeral and burial expenses, the loss of companionship and financial support, and pain and suffering, the plaintiff must prove that negligence led to the victim’s death.
Miscarriage, the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the fetus reaches viability, can be a heartbreaking ordeal for expecting parents and family members. When it is caused by the negligence of another party, the pain can be even more profound.
Fortunately, in this state, there is a way for victims to seek justice. Based on Michigan’s wrongful death law, individuals can file a lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident that led to miscarriage, and they should do it through a personal representative.
If the person being sued, or the defendant, is found responsible for the loss of a fetus or embryo, they could face some serious consequences, such as a felony conviction. They may also end up spending 15 years behind bars or be slapped with a hefty fine, starting at a minimum of $7,500, with the exact amount depending on how serious the situation is.
Premises Liability Laws
Based on the state’s premises liability laws, incurring an injury while on another person’s property with existing risks can be grounds to pursue legal action against them. Here are some situations that can lead to a lawsuit:
Slips and falls
Exposure to hazardous chemicals
Injury due to fire or explosion
These types of accidents may result in severe injuries to the head, neck, and back, as well as broken limbs, severed fingers or toes, cuts and lacerations, and burns. To determine the level of duty of care owed to a victim in a premises liability case, Michigan follows the standard degrees of duty.
First in the hierarchy are the invitees. These are people invited onto another party’s premises for commercial or business purposes, such as patrons of an establishment. Property owners owe them the highest degree of duty, which means they should ensure that their place is in good condition when the invitees are there. Additionally, they must inform the latter of any possible danger they may be aware of.
Second on the list are the licensees. These are people—typically friends and family to someone else’s property that is not for business purposes. It is the owner’s responsibility to inform them of any danger on their property. Both licensees and invitees are entitled to compensation if they can prove that the property owner’s negligence resulted in their injuries.
The third category is for trespassers. These are individuals present on someone’s premises without permission. Among the three classifications, trespassers are owed the lowest level of care. Despite this, a property owner may still be held liable if their place’s unsafe conditions were built with the intention of causing harm.
For a plaintiff to win a premises liability case and obtain damages, their evidence must prove that:
There was an unreasonable risk of harm on the property where the incident took place;
The property owner knew about the existing danger on their property;
The property owner understood how it posed a risk to their visitors.
Dog Bite Laws in Michigan
Despite being domesticated, dogs may attack people if they are approached suddenly, provoked, or afraid their territory is being invaded. In Michigan, a dog owner may be held accountable if their pet bites a person, whether the incident happened on the owner’s property or in a public place.
Under the law, the victim only has to prove they were invited to the property, did not trespass, and did not provoke the dog under any circumstances. However, it should be noted that they are not entitled to compensation for damages if they provoked or enraged the dog. Examples of provocation include hitting the animal, teasing and pulling its tail, making sudden aggressive movements toward it, and attempting to take away its food or toys.
Once found liable, a dog owner will be responsible for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, and expenses to treat the psychological suffering caused by the incident.
Medical Malpractice Laws in Michigan
A family based in Midland filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital because their four-year-old daughter suffered permanent brain damage at birth. They argued that fetal monitor strips showed that the baby inside the womb was in distress and in need of an immediate cesarean section due to medication-related uterine activity. However, the medical staff failed to stop the medication and deliver the baby in time, resulting in severe brain damage and diagnoses of spastic quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, and a seizure disorder. The family won the case and was awarded $31.6 million in compensation.
When healthcare providers make errors that harm their patients, similar to the case mentioned above, they must be held accountable for their actions and the damages they have caused. Individuals who are planning to initiate a lawsuit must file a Notice of Intent in writing with all healthcare providers involved.
The damages that victims can be compensated for include past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and the loss of quality of life. But before being awarded compensation, it must be proven that the victim did incur an injury because their healthcare provider did not meet the standard of care owed to them.
Product Liability Laws in Michigan
When a consumer purchases or uses a product, there is a general assumption that the item is safe and they will not be harmed by using it. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. There have been numerous accidents caused by defective products in the past, and it is important to understand how to protect oneself from them. This is where product liability laws come in. As long as you can demonstrate that a product was not sufficiently safe when it left the factory, you have the right to sue its manufacturer if it has caused you harm.
One example is when a consumer buys a new power tool that turns out to have a defective blade guard that causes them to suffer a serious cut. In this case, they may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the tool’s manufacturer. To be awarded compensation for the damages they have incurred, they must prove that the blade guard was defective, which led to their injuries.
The types of product defects subject to a lawsuit include the following:
Inadequate labels or warnings.
How Much Can Someone Sue For an Injury in Michigan?
The state of Michigan does not set any cap for the value of economic and non-economic damages in most personal injury lawsuits, such as those arising from car accidents and slips and falls.
Meanwhile, when it comes to medical malpractice cases, the maximum amount of non-economic damages an individual can receive is $280,000. This type of compensation covers non-monetary losses like pain and suffering, the loss of consortium, and mental anguish. However, if a plaintiff suffers severe injuries, such as permanent cognitive impairment, permanent damage to a reproductive organ, or total loss of limb function, they can be compensated for up to $500,000.
In product liability cases, plaintiffs can receive up to $537,900 for non-economic damages. If the incident results in catastrophic death or disability, the limit is $960,500. Note that these are the numbers as of 2023, and they increase annually, as set by the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Statute of Limitations in Michigan
An individual injured in an accident generally has three years to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for their injuries. This time limit applies to cases involving negligence and intentional torts, or when deliberate harmful action was inflicted on the victim.
Although this timeframe may seem like a long time, victims need to file a claim as soon as possible; if they miss the deadline, they may no longer be able to receive the compensation they are entitled to. However, certain exceptions may apply, as indicated by Michigan law:
If a plaintiff suffers from mental derangement or incompetence, making them unable to understand their rights, the clock will only start running as soon as they recover.
If the responsible party leaves Michigan before a lawsuit can be filed, their time outside the state will not be counted in the three-year statute. However, the extension can only apply if it can be proven that they left the state for more than two months.
If the victim is a minor, the three-year statute of limitations will only start as soon as they reach the legal age of 18.
Legal Resources for Injured Folks in Michigan
Victims of any criminal act can turn to the Division of Victim Services to get the support and advocacy they need. DVS funds community-based programs, groups, and government agencies across the state, providing a wide range of services such as financial assistance, housing assistance, and medical advocacy. DVS’s website also has a section where victims can apply for reimbursements or compensation for their expenses as a result of the crime committed against them.
For those who want to learn more about how to keep themselves safe, the state's HHS manages the Safety and Injury Prevention webpage, which offers a variety of information and resources. This page discusses topics like bodily injuries, violence, and programs available to injured people.
The Michigan Trauma Coalition is a nonprofit with the mission of improving the lives of trauma survivors through state-of-the-art treatment, prevention, education, and representation. It routinely organizes conferences and meetings where experts in the field of trauma care and prevention can share and discuss their findings.
Step into the world of Expertise.com, your go-to hub for credible insights. We don't take accuracy lightly around here. Our squad of expert reviewers, each a maestro in their field, has given the green light to every single article you'll find. From rigorous fact-checking to meticulous evaluations of service providers, we've got it all covered. So feel free to dive in and explore. The information you'll uncover has been stamped with the seal of approval by our top-notch experts.