On July 19, one man was killed in a Michigan car accident involving a semi-truck and a law enforcement vehicle. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the fatal crash occurred in Dewitt, at the intersection of Old US-27 and Cutler Road. The crash occurred around 8:30 in the evening.
Evidently, a state trooper was pulling onto Old US-27 when the trooper’s vehicle clipped the side of a passing semi-truck. The trooper’s car spun out of control, crashing into an oncoming motorist’s vehicle head-on. The motorist’s vehicle ended up in a ditch along the road’s edge, while the trooper’s car remained on the road. The driver of the oncoming vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene, and the trooper was hospitalized with serious but non-life threatening injuries. The trooper is expected to recover. Evidently, the trooper was responding to a call reporting retail fraud. The accident is currently under investigation.
While the duty of responding police officers is primarily to make sure that anyone who was injured in an accident receives the medical attention they need in a timely manner, law enforcement is also responsible for investigating the crash. Of course, detectives investigate Michigan car accidents to determine whether any of the parties involved broke the law. The question often arises whether a law enforcement investigation is sufficient in a personal injury case.
Police officers are humans and, as a result, can make mistakes. In addition, officers are subject to biases and are not typically experts in car accident cases. Thus, many personal injury victims realize that the investigation conducted by police officers was not as thorough as they would like. In some cases, an officer may fail to photograph the scene or record all the necessary information. However, in some cases, an officer’s conduct goes beyond a small oversight. A recent case acts as a good example of a situation where responding police officers failed to conduct a fair and complete investigation.
Earlier this month, three children were killed when another motorist rear-ended the carriage that was carrying the children and several other family members. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the accident occurred in southeastern Branch County.
Evidently, the carriage was traveling along the side of the road when a driver crashed into the back of the carriage at a high rate of speed. The carriage contained seven people; two adults and five children. All seven passengers were thrown from the carriage upon impact. Two of the young children, ages six and two, were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders. A four-year-old child was taken to the hospital, and later succumbed to his injuries.
In a recent case, an appeals court considered a Michigan personal injury claim involving an employer’s refusal to pay personal insurance protection (PIP) benefits. The issue before the appeals court was whether the claim was timely filed after the employer stopped paying the claimant’s PIP benefits.
In May 2015, the plaintiff was in a car accident while she was driving a state vehicle as she was a state employee. She sought PIP benefits for her injuries from the state, her employer, and received them for almost two years. In August 2017, the state stopped making payments, and stated that it would no longer pay the plaintiff PIP benefits because the state believed she was not disabled. The plaintiff filed a complaint against the state in December 2017, alleging she was entitled to PIP benefits and that the state unreasonably refused to pay her.
Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan car accident case discussing the state’s personal protection insurance (benefits) system. The case is important for all Michigan accident victims because it shows how the PIP system works, and under what circumstances an injury victim may not be covered.
As a general matter, Michigan’s PIP framework is a no-fault system, meaning that an injury victim does not need to show that the other driver was at fault to recover PIP benefits. However, questions can come up regarding whether a person is covered under a PIP policy. In situations involving multiple vehicles and multiple insurance policies, issues may also arise regarding which insurance policy has “priority,” or is responsible for covering the claim.
Under Michigan law, bicyclists have an absolute right to ride on public roads and are entitled to all the same rights as those operating motorized vehicles. At the same time, bicyclists must obey the rules of the road, including both generally applicable laws as well as bicycle-specific laws. The most important rule for Michigan bicyclists to remember is that they are required to ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable.
While bicyclists are responsible for exercising due care while riding on public roads, motorists must respect cyclists’ right to use the road. Thus, motorists must yield to bicyclists when it would be appropriate to yield to another motorist. When a driver causes a Michigan bicycle accident, they may be held liable for any injuries occurring as a result of their negligence.
Motorist Charged in Recent Fatal Michigan Bicycle Accident
Recently, a bicyclist was killed while he was on the way to his mother’s home to watch the Super Bowl. According to a local news report, the bicyclist was struck by a motorist near the intersection of Groesbeck Highway and 10 Mile Road in Warren, Michigan. The exact circumstances surrounding the accident are not known; however, law enforcement estimates that the motorist was traveling at approximately 70 miles per hour when he struck the bicyclist. After the collision, the driver fled the scene, leaving the bicyclist seriously injured and alone on the side of the road.
For years, the top causes of Michigan car accidents have been speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving. According to the most recent data from the Michigan State Police, of the 937 auto accident fatalities that occurred in Georgia in 2017, alcohol was involved in 320 accidents. Almost a third of those fatal Michigan DUI accidents occurred in Wayne County, Oakland County, or Kent County.
While driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has long been against the law in Michigan, motorists continue to get behind the wheel after they have had too much to drink. If someone causes an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may face criminal charges. However, even a successful criminal prosecution against a drunk driver will not likely result in any significant restitution being paid to the accident victims. If a victim of a Michigan DUI accident hopes to recover financial compensation for their injuries, they can pursue a Michigan personal injury or wrongful death case against the at-fault driver.
In either a personal injury or wrongful death case, a plaintiff must be able to establish that the defendant violated a duty of care that was owed to them, and that the defendant’s violation of that duty resulted in their injury or the death of their loved one. Because there is a criminal statute that prohibits drunk driving, personal injury plaintiffs may be able to more easily prove their case of negligence against an alleged drunk driver. Thus, a plaintiff may be left only with the need to establish that the defendant’s actions were the legal cause of their injury.
In a recent personal injury case before a Michigan appeals court, the plaintiff sued a school district after the plaintiff’s car crashed with a school bus. The plaintiff filed a claim of negligence against the bus driver and argued that the school district was vicariously liable. The school district argued that the plaintiff’s claims were barred due to government immunity.
A governmental agency is generally immune from lawsuits, although certain exceptions apply. If a government employee is engaged in a governmental function, both the employee as well as the agency are generally protected by immunity.
The Motor Vehicle Exception
The plaintiff claimed that the case fell under the motor-vehicle exception. Under MCL 691.1405, a governmental agency is liable for injuries and property damages that result from “the negligent operation by any officer, agent, or employee of the government agency, of a motor vehicle of which the governmental agency is owner.” In a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove duty, breach, causation, and damages, and the plaintiff bears the burden of proving a negligence case.
Despite decades of government programs discourage drinking and driving, drunk driving represents one of the major causes of all Michigan car accidents. Indeed, it is estimated that approximately 27% of all serious Michigan car accidents are caused by drunk or drugged driving. Michigan lawmakers take drunk driving seriously, and have enacted a strict set of penalties to punish those found guilty of drunk driving. However, criminal cases are more concerned with punishing an alleged drunk driver for violating the law than providing financial assistance to injury victims. Thus, criminal proceedings often provide little solace for accident victims.
While a criminal case against a drunk driver may not provide much help to an accident victim, anyone who has been injured in a Michigan DUI accident may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the allegedly drunk driver through a civil personal injury lawsuit. If a crash results in the death of an accident victim, the surviving family members of the deceased may pursue a Michigan wrongful death claim.
In the event that the defendant dies as a result of the accident, injured parties are not without a remedy. This is because Michigan car accident victims can name the estate of an allegedly negligent driver in either a personal injury or wrongful death case.