Settlement in Michigan Underinsurance Car Accident Lawsuit
In February 2009 our client was involved in a one Michigan car accident on I-75 and he was at fault for that accident. He sustained a disc herniation in neck that required surgery as a result of the 2009 accident. He had returned to work part-time in November 2010. In December 2010 he was involved in a 2nd motor vehicle accident that was the fault of the other driver. As a result of the second accident, our client sustained a new injury to his neck and an MRI revealed another disc herniation @ C5-C6. The client had a 2nd neck surgery. Under Michigan law injuries from a motor vehicle accident must be objectively manifested. In other words, there must be a diagnostic test like an MRI that objectively reveals the client’s injuries.
Progressive Insurance Company insured the at fault driver for the December 2010 accident. After months of litigation, Progressive offered the full amount of its’ insured’s policy which was $50,000.00. Fortunately our client had purchased underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage with his own insurance company, AAA of Michigan, with limits of $100,000.00. This allows our client to pursue his own insurance company for the difference of what he collected from Progressive and his own policy limits. In other words he may be able to collect an additional $50,000.00 from AAA of Michigan. UIM policy’s almost always require that (1) that the injured victim exhaust the full amount of the policy limits and (2) that you obtain permission from your own insurance company before settling the case. Buckfire & Buckfire obtain permission from AAA and the case for our client’s UIM benefits has been placed into binding arbitration which is required under the insurance contract.
This case emphasizes several important points. First, you must hire a law firm that knows and understands all aspects of the law, including insurance contracts. Recently we were contacted by an injured victim who had underinsured motorist benefits and her prior attorney failed to follow ALL the appropriate steps with regards to her UIM benefits and as a result he voided $80,000.00 in potential coverage. We referred that case to a legal malpractice attorney. Second, even if you are already partially disabled, you can recover your damages if you have an increased disability from a subsequent motor vehicle accident. The MRI following the second motor vehicle accident objectively showed a new injury. Lastly, this case shows the importance of underinsured motorist benefits. The client was fortunate enough to have purchase limits that exceeded the at fault parties liability limits and now has a chance to obtain additional money for his damages. Buckfire & Buckfire recommends that everyone purchase as much underinsured motorist benefits as they can afford.