Today was about history. You drove out to the Northside with the kids and finally had a chance to see the Underground Railroad. You took pictures, immersed your family in important aspects of African American history and culture, and you even caught a docent-lead tour. Ah, yes. It's a day you'll never forgot. Especially because you got into a serious car accident out on Highway 94.
What now? Recovering from a car accident can be very daunting and seem like a maze of red tape. Here's some information to help guide you through the process of an Ann Arbor car accident.
Stop at the Scene
A car accident is scary. Many people panic after they are involved in one and end up causing more harm. Stop at the accident scene or as close as possible without needlessly blocking or endangering other traffic. Do not leave the area.
Hit and Run
Here's why you shouldn't leave. It's a crime. A hit-and-run conviction will mean your driving privileges will be revoked or suspended at a minimum. It doesn't matter what you hit -- a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car or someone's property. You have to stop. The only narrow and limited exception to the "remain" at the scene rule is if you have "a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the accident scene will result in further harm," in which case you must immediately report the accident to the police.
Michigan law allows hit and run prosecutions to be brought within six years after the offense is committed.
What if I hit a parked car and no one is inside?
First, try and locate the owner. If you can't find the owner, leave a note that identifies you as the person who hit the car and how to contact you.
By law, you are required to write your name and address on the note, and a brief description of what happened. If you damage property other than a motor vehicle, you also must try to find the owner or someone in charge of the property to report the damage.
It's also a good idea to call the Ann Arbor Police Department or Michigan State Police and ask them to take a report.
Michigan Car Insurance Minimums
As a driver in Ann Arbor, you have to carry a minimum amount of car insurance coverage. Michigan is one of several states with a no-fault insurance program. Although you may purchase additional coverage with a higher limit, the minimum coverage offers:
- Up to $20,000 for a person who is hurt or killed in an accident,
- Up to $40,000 for each accident if several people are hurt or killed.
- Up to $10,000 for property damage in another state
Should I buy more than minimum coverage?
That's completely up to you. However, remember you may be sued because of an accident. If this happens, your no-fault policy will pay up to your amount of coverage. Courts sometimes award more than these amounts. If this happens, you would be responsible for paying the amount not covered by your insurance policy. To protect themselves, many people buy higher limits of liability insurance.
Tell Me More About No-Fault Coverage
No-fault automobile insurance is designed to cover any injuries you sustain as a result of the accident provided you were not intoxicated by drugs or alcohol or engaged in other criminal behavior. It doesn't matter who is at fault. Your own insurance company will pay out of pocket for personal injuries up to the policy limits. This means you don't have to sue the other party's insurance company to take care of medical bills and other resulting damages such as lost wages. Simply contact your own insurance carrier and make a claim.
You only have one year from the date of the accident to claim no-fault benefits with your insurance company, but always check your insurance policy for specific notification requirements.
What is Covered under No-Fault Benefits?
- Medical benefits,
- Wage loss,
- Replacement services (housekeeping),
- Mileage reimbursement for medical appointments,
- Attendant care benefits (nursing services).
What information should I gather at the scene?
Be prepared to exchange information with the other driver -- your name, address and driver's license number; the registration number of the car you were driving; and the name your insurance company. You may wish to collect contact information for:
1. Other car's owner
2. Any passengers in the other car
3. Any witnesses to the accident
Hiring a Lawyer
If you aren't sure what to do, an attorney may be able to help. Many lawyers take auto accident cases on a contingency fee basis. Basically, you do not pay the lawyer his or her attorney fees if you lose the case. If you win, you pay the lawyer a percentage of the money you get. A settlement is considered a "win" and attorney's fees will be paid out of that amount. If you do decide to sue, your attorney will provide details about where and when to appear in court. Here's a list of Ann Arbor courthouses.
Auto accidents can be stressful and unnerving. Knowing what to expect and remaining calm will make everything go more smoothly. If you or a loved one has been in an Ann Arbor car accident, consider speaking with an Ann Arbor attorney.