You're motoring along on Michigan Avenue like you normally do, and you're listening to the radio. All of a sudden you hear the first few notes of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, and you reach down to turn up the volume. In just that moment, your car skids slightly out of control. You think to yourself: "Mercy, mercy me -- I've been in a wreck."
What should you do after a car accident in Detroit?
It's natural to feel upset and confused after a car crash. It might even "make you want to holler." You're fortunate, however, because the laws in Motown (and the rest of the state) are set up to help drivers get back to their normal lives after a collision. FindLaw presents this informational guide to the local and state laws relating to traffic accidents in Detroit.
Stop After a Crash
When you're involved in a traffic accident, you must stop your vehicle and give your information to everyone else involved in the collision and an investigating police officer. Provide your (1) name, (2) address, (3) vehicle registration number, and (4) the vehicle's owner's name and address (if different).
State law and the Code of Ordinances require you to provide "reasonable assistance in securing medical aid" after a crash. This includes offering transportation to get medical treatment. The DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital has a Trauma and Emergency Care practice that often treats accident victims. In many cases, it's simply best to call 9-1-1 and allow professionals to handle the matter.
Clear the Road
As a general rule, drivers should remove their cars to the shoulder, emergency lane, or some other place where they will not block traffic. Only do this, however, if it can be done safely and the car can still be driven as it normally would. The State has a pamphlet offering more tips on how to handle emergencies and special situations, including accidents.
Report the Accident
After a collision, you may have to report the incident to the local police. State law makes reporting mandatory when either: (1) a person is injured; or (2) the accident causes $1,000 or more in property damage. In addition, the Detroit City Code requires you to report the accident whenever a car can no longer be driven in its usual manner. As a result, even if the crash is minor, but you wind up stuck in mud -- for example -- you must report it to the Detroit Police Department. The Department uses a fill-in-the-blanks type of form for reporting accidents. See the Department's webpage for a list of phone numbers for individual districts and precincts.
If the driver is so injured that he/she can't report the accident, each passenger has a duty to report it. Be truthful in the report. City Code Section 55-13-3 makes it unavailable for use in court. The police department will use the reports and statements taken from everybody involved to write its own set of reports. These "Police Crash Reports," as they're called, may be useful in dealing with your insurance company, or in tracking down witnesses later on.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Our state has a no-fault insurance system. Under our system, a driver's own insurance typically covers his/her costs due to personal injury and property damage. The mandatory Personal Injury Protection ("PIP") even pays drivers a portion of their lost wages. Meanwhile, the mandatory Property Protection Insurance ("PPI") covers the damage a driver may cause to other people's land and buildings thereon. Damage to another's personal property, including cars, are usually not covered unless a driver purchases additional insurance. If you have questions, see A Consumer's Guide to No-Fault Automobile Insurance in Michigan for more information.
Mini Tort Cases
When a driver's insurance policy does not cover personal property losses, the driver may pursue a "mini tort" case in a Michigan. Most likely, you'll find yourself in District Court, also known as "The People's Court." It may be a good idea to check with an attorney to find out if this is the proper way to handle your case. Also, see FindLaw's article on Detroit Courthouses.
Accident in the Motor City? Get Legal Assistance Today
Simply put, car accidents can be a pain both physically and emotionally. Not only do you have to deal with insurance companies, medical bills, and repairs for your vehicle, there is the stress that goes along with a potential personal injury lawsuit. But you don't have to face this challenge alone. Reach out to a Michigan personal injury attorney today.