I was involved in an accident in Michigan where the other driver is at fault. How do claims and compensation work for a lawsuit?

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Question:

I live in Michigan and my car was hit by a drunk driver. She was definitely at fault, so I’m sure I’ll win money when I sue her, but in the meantime, I’m out of work and I have all these medical bills piling up. I’ve heard lawsuits can take years, but I can’t wait! Please help!

 

Answer:

Fortunately for you, if you had the automobile insurance your state requires, you would have had what’s called No-Fault or PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance as part of your package. And even more fortunately, even among the 12 no-fault states, Michigan’s PIP is particularly generous.

PIP covers you, the person who buys it or takes it out, unlike liability insurance, which pays for other people’s losses or injuries if you are at-fault in a car accident and hurt them or their property. PIP will pay for your medical costs; it will pay for your lost wages, subject to a certain (though generous) monthly maximum and time limit; and it will also pay for what’s called “replacement services.” These are if you need to hire someone to do things that you can no longer do for yourself, owing to your injuries, such as housekeeping or yard work.

Because PIP or no-fault is your own insurance, you need to present or file an insurance claim with your own insurer—but you don’t need to go through courts, file and win (or settle) a lawsuit, etc. It’s a streamlined process, and your insurance company or insurance agent can help guide you through it.

By the way, you can still sue for property damage (such as if your car was damaged or totaled) and for your personal injuries, including pain and suffering, if your injuries were serious enough. You can do this in addition to filing an insurance claim for your no-fault benefits, and the one will not prevent you from, or delay you in doing, the other.

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