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Michigan Wrongful-conduct rule

The wrongful-conduct rule bars a claim where “‘a plaintiff’s action is based, in whole or in part, on his own illegal conduct.’” Hashem v Les Stanford Oldsmobile, Inc, 266 Mich App 61, 89; 697 NW2d 558 (2005), quoting Orzel v Scott Drug Co, 449 Mich 550, 558; 537 NW2d 208(1995). In a wrongful death action, the plaintiff, as the representative of the decedent’s estate, “has no better claim than the decedent would have had.” Hashem, supra at 88 n 10, citing Toth v Goree, 65 Mich App 296, 298; 237 NW2d 297 (1975). Thus, where there is “a sufficient causal nexus between” the decedent’s illegal conduct and the decedent’s damages, which in this case are her death, the wrongful-conduct rule will bar any recovery by plaintiff. Hashem, supra at 89. However, the rule will not apply merely because she engaged in illegal conduct, and the rule only applies to some kinds of illegal conduct. Id. at 89-91.
Barth v Goal Tender, Unpublished. September 22, 2005, No. 262605.


Auto Insurance Coverage Types

There are 6 types of common coverages in automobile insurance. Your insurance policy may include all six or only some of them. Each coverage is priced differently/separately.

1. Bodily Injury Liability:   Pays for bodily injuries or death the policyholder causes to someone else.

2. Medical Payments:   Pays for medical expenses to the driver and passengers of the policyholder's car. Also called as Personal Injury Protection or (PIP).

3. Property Damage Liability:   Pays for someone else's property damage caused by the policyholder.

4. Collision:   Pays for damage to the policyholder's car caused by a collision. The collision could be with another car, a light post or any other objects including and not limited to a house.

5. Comprehensive:   Pays for damages to the policyholder's car that are not caused by a collision with another car. Covered risks include theft, fire, hail, flood, vandalism, and other causes.

6. Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage:  Pays for costs related to injuries as a result of collision with an uninsured, or underinsured driver. Underinsured motorist coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver has auto liability insurance, but the limit of insurance is inadequate to pay for your damages.

Your State's Requirements:

Each state requires that you have certain types of auto insurance coverages with minimum liability limits. These limits vary from state to state. Information about each state's insurance requirements and minimum liability limits are listed below in a table. (The first two figures refer to bodily injury liability limits and the third figure refers to property damage liability. For example, 25/50/10 means coverage up to $25,000 for one individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, and up to $10,000 for property damage.)

The insurance industry recommends that your bodily injury liability limits be $100,000/person and $300,000/occurrence.


Frequently Asked Questions About Michigan Automobile Accident Law

Question: How many traffic related accidents occur each year?
Answer: Statistics on car accidents indicate that annually there are over 6 million motor vehicle accidents involving cars, trucks, SUVs and motorcycles in the United States alone. In addition, the Federal government estimates that there were at least 10 million unreported accidents.

Question: How many people are injured in these accidents?
Answer: In 2000 over 3.2 million people were injured on our Nation's roadways.

Question: How many were killed?
Answer: Unfortunately, over 40,000 people died in traffic related accidents during 2000. In fact, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 6 and 33. 90% of all transportation related fatalities are associated with cars, trucks and motorcycles.

Question: What is the monetary cost associated with all of these accidents?
Answer: The Federal government estimates that automobile and motorcycle accidents cost society over $150 billion each year.

Question: What should I do if I am involved in a traffic accident?
Answer: Obviously, the most important thing for you to do after an accident is to seek medical attention. At the accident scene, you should get the driver's license numbers and vehicle registration information along with the names and addresses of vehicle passengers and bystanders who may have witnessed the accident. Also, make sure to record the names of any emergency personnel such as police officers or paramedics who respond to the scene. Remember, many people are in shock after a collision and fail to realize they are injured. Others injuries don’t start to hurt for 24 hours or more after the accident.

Question: Should I contact an attorney if I have been seriously injured in an automobile accident?
Answer: It may be important for you to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Only a licensed attorney can evaluate whether you have a case that is worth pursuing. It is critical that you understand that there may be time limits (Statute of Limitations) which impact on your ability to sue.

Question: How much does an attorney evaluation cost in these types of cases?
Answer: Nothing. I will evaluate your case free of charge. If a participating attorney agrees to handle your case, you will owe no fees or other costs unless that attorney recovers money for you.

Question: My carrier is not paying or reimbursing the full amount of the wages I was making from my employer. They say they don't have to pay 100% of my lost salary, it that true?
Answer: Your insurance company’s position may be correct. There are two limits on the amount of reimbursement for wage loss. The first is the limit that they only have to pay 85% of you lost wages. However, you do not have to pay state or federal taxes on this benefit like you would your regular wages. The second is a cap under Michigan law. Essentially, there is a maximum monthly payout of No-Fault wage loss benefits. If you were making a high salary or income, you will not be reimbursed even at 85%. This maritimum amount or cap amount is adjusted every year for inflation. You should know that you may have a claim against the at-fault driver for excess wage loss, beyond the amount reimbursed by your insurance company

Question: I did not have insurance on my car when the other guy crossed the centerline and struck me head on. The accident was not my fault. What are my legal rights?
Answer: The law requires you to have insurance and there are penalties under the PIP law for failing to have insurance. In effect, you are denied certain, but not all, benefits if you fail to carry the mandated insurance. For instance, the no-fault statute excludes owners of vehicles who violate the law by failing to have insurance from receiving first party benefits. You should contact an attorney to determine what rights may still be available.

Question: A driver changed lanes into me when I was driving my motorcycle. The other driver was clearly in the wrong. Does the no-fault statute cover motorcycles?
Answer: The short answer is yes in your case. As long as .you are injured in an accident involving a "motor vehicle", there is not difference between in your first or third party rights regardless of whether you are driving a truck, bus, car or motorcycle.

Question: I caused the accident which injured two people in the other car and the passenger in my car. I also went to the hospital by ambulance and received x-rays, pain medications and other treatment. Do I have to pay for my own medical bills since I was at fault?
Answer: No. As long as you are insured, your insurance carrier will pay all of the first party benefits to you, regardless of who caused the accident. That is why we call it ‘no-fault’ insurance. When it comes to first party benefits, fault is irrelevant and benefits must be paid.

Question: What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Answer: Uninsured Motorist Coverage is an insurance coverage option which allows you possible recovery from your insurance policy if the at-fault driver does not have insurance coverage, or, importantly, if the at-fault driver can not be identified (i.e. hit and run driver). It is recommended that all drivers carry uninsured coverage.

Question: Is there a difference between uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage?
Answer: Yes. Underinsured coverage provides an additional means of collection when one is seriously injured in an accident. It is distinguishable from uninsured coverage which is available when there is no identifiable insurance on an at-fault vehicle. For example, if you carried a policy of $100,000 underinsured coverage and there was a $20,000 policy of insurance on the at-fault diver, it would be possible to seek up to $80,000 in additional compensation from your own insurance company. This is provided that your attorney has secured a tender offer of the underlying policy of insurance. These claims must be handled carefully. Premature acceptance of an underlying policy in full settlement of a claim could forfeit your right to an uninsured policy. Note that an uninsured endorsement on a policy does not necessarily include an underinsured endorsement.

Question: What if I already have health insurance or other medical coverage which is paying for my medical treatment?
Answer: No-fault benefits may be coordinated with other health and accident coverages if the injured person has purchased a coordinated policy. There may be a set off of governmental benefits from no-fault benefits and for the coordination of private insurance benefits. The no-fault statute states that any benefits "provided or required to be provided" by the laws of any state or federal government (such as workers compensation or social security disability benefits) shall be a dollar for dollar reduction from like kind no-fault benefits. In those situations where the injured person’s no-fault coverage is coordinated, the no-fault insurer only pays those allowable expenses and work loss benefits that are not paid by private health and disability insurance coverages. If, however, the victim has purchased uncoordinated no-fault coverage, it is sometimes possible for the victim to recover under both the no-fault policy and the other health and disability policy.

Question: What are the Notice Provisions Under Your Policy / Other Limitation Periods?
Answer: The Michigan no-fault statute also contains very specific provisions addressing how no-fault benefits must be claimed and when they are payable. In this regard, there are two important rules to remember. First, an accident victim must give his or her no-fault insurance company written notice in order to be legally entitled to receive PIP benefits. This written notice must be provided within one year of the date of the accident and must set forth the name and address of the claimant and a summary of the time, place and nature of the injuries. Second, the statute also contains a one year enforcement rule. This means that if a particular expense has not been paid by the no-fault insurance company, legal action must be filed within one year of the date that particular expense was incurred or payment for that particular expense will not be enforceable. Therefore, it is very important for accident victims to process their PIP claims expeditiously and to seek legal advice if a benefit has not been fully paid within a few months after it has been submitted. There are exceptions to these one year time rules. For example, if an accident results in catastrophic injury which renders the victim incapable of fully appreciating his or her legal rights, then the one year rules may very well not apply. This is often the case with persons sustaining serious traumatic brain injury. In addition, the courts have held that the one year rule does not apply to children. You should contact an attorney and make sure your claims are processed correctly within the correct time periods, even with minors and incapacitated persons.

Question: Should I take photographs?
Answer: Yes. Take photos of the accident scene and the injuries, even while you are still in the hospital. The most powerful evidence inmost cases are the photographs or video. Pictures really do speak a thousand words, especially for hospital treatment, burns, cuts, scars, physical therapy, broken bones, x-rays, CT scans, etc.

Question: Should I speak with the Insurance adjuster if he/she calls?
Answer: NO! As previously indicated, the insurance company for the party at fault will be conducting an investigation soon after the accident. One of the first things that is typically done in connection with such an investigation is to contact the victim and ask the victim to give a statement, either in writing or by tape recorder. The victim should absolutely refuse to do this unless he or she has first consulted with an attorney specializing in personal injury law regarding the advisability of such an interview. In this regard, it is important to remember what the police tell suspects in criminal cases prior to taking statements: "What you say can and will be used against you!"

Question: My insurance company called and asked me to sign medical releases so they can get my medical records? Do I have to give them my records?
Answer: It depends on which insurance company is asking for the release, yours or the at-fault driver. For your first-party benefits, the insurance company does not have to pay PIP until they receive adequate documentation to support the claim for benefits. If it is your insurance company, you should consult an attorney. I do not recommend signing medical releases or having any contact with the other driver’s insurance company. I typically handle all such requests directly on behalf of my cleint.

Question: What if the insurance company calls me on the phoen and says they want to pay me money to settle?
Answer: Many times the insurance company representing the party at fault will approach a seriously injured victim and offer to make a settlement of the bodily injury tort claim in exchange for the victim signing a full release of liability. Typically, you should not sign such settlement agreement without consulting an attorney first.

Understand Your Michigan No-Fault Rights

If you have been in a car accident, you need to know your rights.
I am a Michigan lawyer hanlding Michigan car accident litigation.   This web site will help you understand your first-party and third party no-fault  rights and fight for the money and benefits to which you are entitled.

THE BASICS:  I was in a Michigan automobile, car, truck or bus accident.  What should I do?

1.    Don’t sign anything given to you by an insurance company without consulting a Michigan automobile accident lawyer first. Insurance companies don't represent your interests.  Your best decision is to educate yourself about your legal rights and speak to an attorney.  You may have to sue to obtain the money to which your are entitled.

2.   Document your injuries early, get competent medical treatment and take photographs in the hospital, or when you get home.

3. Don’t be fooled by insurance adjusters who pretend to represent your interest. They will often attempt to convince you to sign papers and take settlement offers which are well below the compensation to which you are entitled

Michigan is a 'no-fault' insurance state. The laws that govern Michigan automobile accidents are very complex but essentially involve First-Party Benefits and Third-Party Benefits. 

You should contact a Michigan automobile accident attorney to fully understand your no-fault rights. Insurance companies are very skilled at taking your premium payments every month.  Unfortunately, they are also very skilled at avoiding payments even when a legitimate claim is made. Such bad faith denial of benefits forces good people into litigation where having an aggressive, experienced lawyer can make all the difference.

Michigan Automobile Car Truck Accident Law Firm Lawyer Attorney Blog Homepage: Michigan Automobile Car Truck Accident Law Firm Lawyer Attorney


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