No fault insurance may be your first line of defense following a motor vehicle accident, but where there are serious injuries that coverage may not be enough to compensate you for your loss. Sometimes, you have a Third Party claim against the at-fault driver as well.
The At Fault Driver
Accidents are usually caused by one or more drivers making a mistake. Those drivers’ negligence or carelessness can cause them to be considered “at fault” for the accident. In some cases, an at-fault driver can be financially responsible for damage done to your car, and for other losses not covered by your no-fault benefits.
Filing A Third Party Lawsuit
To receive compensation from the at-fault driver, you will need to file a “Third Party” lawsuit against him or her. It’s called third party because that driver is not one of the two parties in the contract between you (Party #1) and your insurance company (Party #2).
Michigan’s no-fault insurance law only allows Third Party lawsuits when there are serious injuries involved. Before you can win a Third Party case you and your attorney will have to show you have suffered a “serious impairment of body function.” That means that your injuries get in the way of your body doing what it naturally does and affect your ability to lead a normal day-to-day life. To decide whether your injury is serious enough to bring a Third Party claim, the court will consider, among other factors:
- The nature of your injury;
- How it affects your life; and
- What kind of medical treatment you need to recover.
What a Third Party Lawsuit Covers
Your medical expenses and certain other expenses are covered by your First Party claim and won’t be part of your lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Instead, your third party lawsuit picks up where the no-fault policy leaves off:
- Wage Loss: Your no fault benefits for lost wages only last 3 years. If you are disabled beyond that point, your third party lawsuit will help you recover what you could have earned if you were working.
- Pain and Suffering: The at-fault driver is responsible for making you go through the pain of your injury. While money doesn’t undo that harm, a pain and suffering award can help compensate you for what happened.
- Disability and Disfigurement: Most Third Party cases involve some permanent or lasting injury. These kinds of scars can affect a victim’s self-worth and the way others view and interact with them. A Third Party lawsuit can compensate the injured party for this change in his or her life.
A Third Party Lawyer
Third Party lawsuits can be very complicated. Figuring out what is covered by your insurance and what is available from the at-fault driver requires expertise and experience. The attorneys at Christensen Law have been representing seriously injured motorists for over 30 years. They can help you file your Third Party lawsuit and get you the recovery you deserve.