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Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance act means that for most injury accidents you never need to take the at-fault driver to court. Instead, you just file a claim with your own auto insurance policy. But if you have been in a serious auto accident, your no-fault insurance benefits may not be enough to cover long-term wage loss and replacement services. That’s when a third party lawsuit comes into play, but only if you have suffered certain threshold injuries.
Before you decide whether to file a Third Party lawsuit, your auto accident attorney will help you decide whether you have suffered a serious enough injury to meet the threshold. If you haven’t, your Third Party claim could be dismissed, and you will be left without the ability to collect the non-medical damages available to you in a direct negligence claim. The only way the court will hear your negligence case is if you have suffered death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.
If your loved one died in a fatal car accident, their death is a sufficient threshold injury to file a Third Party Lawsuit. Unlike other third party claims, this will be a Wrongful Death action, filed by the deceased’s estate and his or her dependents.
The question of whether an injured motorist has suffered a permanent serious disfigurement is often a question for the judge if no one disputes the nature or extent of your injuries, or if the dispute over your injuries don’t affect the threshold issue.
What qualifies as a permanent serious disfigurement can include most permanent scarring. In one case, a relatively small scar above a woman’s eyebrow affected her ability to express emotion. That was enough to count as permanent serious disfigurement.
Most threshold issues in Third Party cases happen in cases of serious impairment of body function. Often, these serious impairments can involve injuries to the neck or back, fractures or even traumatic brain injuries. Michigan law defines serious impairment as “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.” The affect is measured against the way a person lived before the accident.
It will be up to you and your lawyer to give the judge and jury a before and after picture of how you live your life. Medical restrictions and other observable limitation on your daily life will show the decision makers how your accident has significantly reduced your standard of living. The seriousness of your injury can be shown by the extent of medical care you require.
Depending on the injuries you suffer in your serious auto accident, it can be hard to show that you have the threshold injuries required to file a Third Party Lawsuit. Contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Christensen Law to see if your case qualifies.