Any type of injury can greatly impact your life. A spinal cord injury (SCI), however, can be extraordinarily devastating. With such a life-altering injury you may find yourself struggling not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and financially. You may be unable to work due to your pain and suffering resulting in a loss of income. Moreover, your medical needs (and therefore expenses) will be significant. In other words, a spinal cord injury can leave you struggling to afford even your most basic needs. If you or a loved one has suffered a SCI in a motor vehicle accident, knowing the following information will be helpful.
What compensation can I get?
It’s important to know the compensation and damages to which you are entitled if you sustained a SCI arising out of a motor vehicle accident. Michigan is a no-fault state. That means that if you were injured due to a car accident, you will be entitled to no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) benefits regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident. There are some instances, however, in which you could be disqualified from receiving no-fault PIP benefits. One such instance is if you were driving your own car at the time of the accident and failed to insure your car with the mandatory insurance coverages. Also, most non-residents of Michigan will be disqualified from receiving Michigan no-fault benefits if they are injured in a car accident in Michigan. Generally, you will claim these benefits from your own automobile insurer. There are some situations, however, in which another person’s insurer will be responsible to pay for your no-fault PIP benefits.
If you are entitled to no-fault benefits, there are several benefits which you may receive. As noted, if you’ve sustained a SCI, your medical expenses will no doubt be significant. One no-fault benefit is payment of medical expenses for medical services you required due to your accident-related injuries (including payment for initial hospitalization, rehabilitative therapies, personal attendant care, etc.). You will also be entitled to compensation for work loss resulting from your car accident. Another benefit is the payment of household “replacement” services. If someone has been completing household chores that you completed before you were njured, that person is entitled to receive $20.00/day in compensation.
It’s important to know that there may be a limit to your no-fault benefits due to amendments in Michigan’s no-fault law that became effective June 11, 2019. Whereas Michigan used to mandate lifetime, unlimited PIP coverage, Michiganders are now permitted to choose lower PIP coverage levels. If you’ve chosen less than unlimited PIP coverage, you will be left with significant medical expenses.
If you were not at fault for the accident, you may be able to sue for pain and suffering damages (as well as for any excess economic loss beyond your PIP coverage). This is known as an automobile negligence or “third-party” claim. These claims are made to the liability insurer of the person who was responsible for causing the car accident. In order to make a third-party claim, your injury needs to rise to one of three “thresholds“: serious impairment of body function, permanent serious disfigurement, or death. Most automobile negligence claims are brought under the serious impairment of body function threshold. If you’ve suffered a SCI in a car accident, you will probably be able to meet this threshold.
When should I file a claim?
Like any personal injury claim, you only have a limited amount of time to do so. This is called a statute of limitations. Most insurers will require that you give them notice of your injury within a year of the accident. Moreover, if you need to file a lawsuit against the responsible no-fault insurer for payment of PIP benefits, know that you will only be permitted to recover benefits a year back from the date you file your lawsuit. So it’s extremely important that if you are having issues with your insurer paying benefits, that you take action sooner rather than later.
As for your automobile negligence or “third-party” claim, you have a three-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit under Michigan law. Since it take a bit of time to collect evidence, conduct research, and get everything together, it’s best to begin the process as soon as possible.
Proving your claim.
One of the most important things that you need in order to successfully prove your spinal cord injury case is evidence. Without evidence supporting your claim, it can be difficult for the court to agree to your damages.
Documentation that you’ll want to have as evidence includes anything that can show:
- The extent of your injury
- The car accident caused your injury
- Your damages that have resulted from your injury (including your medical expenses, work loss, and how your post-accident life is different from your pre-accident life)
- Evidence to demonstrate that the accused is responsible for your injury
A variety of things can be used as evidence:
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Expert testimony (from your treating medical team)
The Attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence, you should not have to be bear the burden alone. When you are already dealing with so much, the last thing that you want to do is to have to worry about tackling the legalities of your situation.
The Michigan personal injury attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. will fight for the compensation that you deserve. We understand the seriousness of your injury and the physical, emotional, and financial hardships that you have endured (and will continue to endure). We will gather the necessary evidence and build a case to help you receive the most optimal outcome. We’ll fight for the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!