Thanks to TV and Movies, people have misconceptions about suing for pain and suffering. Hollywood often suggests the idea that people suing for pain and suffering are “faking it” and that receiving a large financial settlement requires you to “put on an act”. In reality, that is not the case.
First of all, Michigan is a “no-fault” state. This means that if you were in a car accident, you are entitled to compensation regardless of who was at fault. Here are examples of the compensation you’re entitled to:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Replacement Services
- Attendant Care Services
- Mileage Reimbursement
These are examples of “economic damages” or “out-of-pocket” expenses related to the accident. If you were injured in an auto accident, add the above items together to get a ballpark idea of your settlement amount for economic damages.
The only time a person is not entitled to compensation (no-fault benefits) is If the person seeking the benefits was the driver of the vehicle, owns the vehicle they were driving, and the vehicle was not insured at the time of the accident.
However, you can also sue for “noneconomic damages” which is commonly referred to as “pain and suffering.” For example, when a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver ends your career as a surgeon, you may be able to sue the insurance company of the other driver.
The threshold for “pain and suffering” is high. According to Michigan law, it’s serious impairment of body function, permanent and serious disfigurement, or wrongful death. Unlike what you’ve seen in movies or on TV, compensation for pain and suffering is no gimmick. As state law dictates, it involves serious impairment that is often permanent.
In Michigan, because your own automobile insurance company typically pays for your medical bills and wage loss, it is often the case that your claim against a negligent driver’s insurance company is only for “noneconomic” or “pain-and-suffering” damages and excess wage loss (wages lost due to an injury that exceeds the three-year maximum coverage for wages paid by the no-fault carrier, and/or wages that are lost more than three years after the accident).
The financial compensation you can reasonably ask for or expect a jury to award depends on several factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, the seriousness of your injuries, the amount and frequency of treatment you have received, whether you have missed any work, how fully you recover from your injuries, and the amount that insurance funds that are available to recover.
According to Michigan Law, an injured person (or their survivors) can sue if the injured person has suffered:
- Serious impairment of body function
- Permanent serious disfigurement.
“Serious impairment of body function” means an impairment that satisfies all of the following requirements:
- It is objectively manifested, meaning it is observable or perceivable from actual symptoms or conditions by someone other than the injured person.
- It is an impairment of an important body function, which is a body function of great value, significance, or consequence to the injured person.
- It affects the injured person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life, meaning it has had an influence on some of the person’s capacity to live in his or her normal manner of living. Although the length of time may be relevant, there is no time requirement for how long an impairment must last. This examination is inherently fact and circumstance specific to each injured person must be conducted on a case-by-case basis and requires comparison of the injured person’s life before and after the incident.