Good question. Here are some things to consider.
What do I absolutely need to know?
You need to know the types of insurance benefits that are available to you.
Depending on the circumstances of the crash, you may be eligible for multiple types of insurance benefits, including:
- Michigan no-fault benefits
- Health insurance benefits
- Property damage benefits
- Short-term and long-term disability benefits
- Bodily injury benefits
- Uninsured motorist benefits
- Underinsured motorist benefits
How do I know which benefits I’m eligible for?
There is no quick answer to this. It depends on several things, such as:
- What types of insurance did you have on your auto insurance policy?
- Did you buy no-fault insurance that coordinated with your health insurance?
- Did you buy or does your employer offer short-term or long-term disability insurance?
- Was another driver at-fault for the crash?
- If so, how much insurance did the at-fault driver have?
- Did the at-fault driver have an umbrella policy?
- Were you injured? How badly?
- Did you purchase some type of “extra” insurance, like underinsured coverage?
This list is not complete. Every case is different, and the types of insurance available to you differ based on your circumstances. The most important thing is that you learn the types of insurance available to you. Your insurance agent can give you some of this information, but you are likely going to want to talk with a lawyer to make sure you are not leaving anything on the table. Ask your agent for a copy of your “insurance declaration pages.” This will help the lawyer know the types of coverages available to you under your auto insurance policy. It won’t provide all the information necessary, but it’s a good start.
What’s the most important type of insurance coverage and what do I need to do to get it?
Michigan no-fault insurance coverage is the most important insurance coverage. Why? Because it pays for your medical bills and wage loss. You can worry about other benefits later, but for now, you need to pay your mortgage and take care of your family. Put first things first and get this done. You have some time on the other stuff, but this needs to happen now.
To get Michigan no-fault benefits, you must submit an “application for no-fault benefits” to “the correct” no-fault insurance company. Usually, that is your own auto insurance company, but not always. You will want to speak with an attorney to confirm “the correct” no-fault insurance company.
You must submit a no-fault application to the correct no-fault insurance within one year of the crash. If you don’t, you are forever barred from receiving no-fault benefits. That means no medical bills and no wage loss, ever. You must get this right.
What about the other types of insurance?
If someone else was at fault for the crash and you were injured, you likely have a claim for your pain and suffering damages. Think of these as human damages – the damages for your quality-of-life harms and losses. Under Michigan law, you typically have three years to bring a claim against the at-fault driver for these damages.
You likely also have a property damage claim. You go to your own auto insurance for the damage to your car. You will want to make a “property damage claim” with your insurance. This is not hard. You can call your insurance company and do this on your own.
If you had underinsured coverage, and you were hit by someone who had too little insurance coverage to cover your damages, you can recover underinsured benefits from your auto insurance company. Similarly, if you had uninsured coverage, and the person who hit you did not have insurance, you can recover uninsured benefits from your auto insurance company. You pay extra for these benefits, and you are entitled to them. You will likely need a lawyer to assist you with these benefits because they have special requirements and insurance companies are often quick to withhold them, for a host of reasons. Talk with a lawyer so you make sure you don’t miss out on these.
Your auto insurance or your health insurance may be responsible for your crash-related medical bills. A lawyer is likely going to need to see both insurance policies (your auto insurance policy and your health insurance policy) to know for sure.
This is a good start, but it’s not everything. Other types of benefits may be available depending on your situation, such as short-term or long-term disability benefits. Talk with a lawyer to make sure you are not missing out on anything.
What else should I know?
Regardless of the types of insurance benefits owed, you can count on the insurance company to not want to pay them. Insurance companies are in business to make money, not to look out for you. After a crash, insurance companies usually act quickly to limit what they must pay. This often includes taking a recorded statement of you and trying to settle quick and low. Don’t settle your case until you know what it’s worth. What is my case worth? The answer to this question depends on many things, such as:
- What were your injuries?
- How long were you off work?
- How much were your medical bills?
- Do people like you? (yeah, being a jerk doesn’t help you)
- Are you following your doctor’s recommendations?
- What have you done to try to get better? (Have you given people a reason to root for you?)
- How has this affected your relationships?
- Are your harms and losses real? (fakes don’t get real money, nor should they)
- Do you have a story that needs to be told?
If you have a real case, it has real value, and you need someone who can (1) tell you the value of your case and (2) communicate it effectively to insurance companies, defense lawyers, judges, and juries. Whether you work with us or someone else, don’t settle for less than you deserve.
How is This Likely to End?
Your case will probably end with a settlement, most cases do, but that’s not how we prepare our clients’ cases. We prepare their cases like they are going to trial. Why? Two reasons. One, some cases do go to trial, and you better be ready to prove your case when it does. And two, who do you think gets better settlements, the firm with the evidence necessary to win at trial or the other firm? Yeah, we think the first firm too.
Regardless of who you choose to work with, make sure your firm prepares your case like it’s going to trial. The value of your case depends on it.
Call or contact Conybeare Law Office now to speak with an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer
If you need help navigating insurance after a Michigan car accident, contact an experienced attorney at Conybeare Law. A car accident is a scary, painful, and traumatic experience. It can be difficult to know who to talk to after a crash, but having an experienced Michigan car accident attorney can help alleviate much of the stress and uncertainty that comes after an accident. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Conybeare Law Office will help you understand your rights so you feel like you are in control, and they will fight to get you the money you deserve. To learn more about the wide range of legal services offered to our Michigan car accident clients, talk to our office today. Conybeare Law Office has offices in Saint Joseph and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and proudly serves all of southwest Michigan and beyond. Call or contact us for a free consultation. Remember, if it’s not fair, call the bear.