Car & Truck Accidents


The lawyers you see on TV will not be the ones handling your case. Jon Frank will not shunt you off to someone else. Jon IS YOUR LAWYER.

You are a good and careful driver; you take no stupid chances, speeding, drinking and driving, or disregarding stop signs, or stop lights. Then that car came roaring through the stop sign, or the stop light, hit your car, and devastated your life. Who knows? Maybe the other driver was sober when they hit you; maybe not. In any event, hopefully, you will have had a chance to first drop off your kids, or your wife/husband, or a loved one. Sometimes, you are not even that “lucky”.

At first, you are angry. Then you have to start thinking about how to pick up the pieces, and to move on with your life, your family, your work. It is never easy. You need a lawyer who can do more than “handle the court stuff”, and who can divide the verdict or settlement by three at the end, to calculate his/her fee. You need a lawyer who understands, and will give you and your case, the personal attention it deserves. From start to finish.

Two distinct sets of rights flow from any auto or truck accident. One is against the at-fault driver for the needless pain, suffering and devastation they have caused you, a friend, or loved one. Another is against your own insurance company, in the event they refuse to honor the promises they made to pay the No-Fault benefits of medical bills, wage loss, etc.
If you are concerned about your No-Fault rights with your own insurance company, visit our No-Fault page to see how to file a claim.

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There are two types of claims that flow from a motor vehicle accident:

  1. “First-Party No-Fault” rights against one’s own no-fault carrier, to enforce the promises they made to pay for your medical care, wage loss, etc; and
  2. Claims against other drivers, also called “third-party”, or pain and suffering claims.
First Party No-Fault Claims (v. Your Auto Insurance Company)

To get a better idea of your “first-party” rights, under Michigan law, visit the No-Fault Insurance Matters page.

Third Party Auto Accident Cases (v. Negligent Drivers/Responsible Parties)

Since 1973, injuries must pass a threshold, before there is even a right to sue; of course, if you do not have a right to sue, there isn’t much to threaten an insurance company with.

There are three ways to meet the Michigan no-fault threshold:

  1. Injuries resulting in death;
  2. Injuries resulting in scarring or “serious and permanent disfigurement”; and
  3. Injuries resulting in “serious impairment of body function”.

Most cases fall within this third category, and are held to either meet, or not meet the threshold.

In all cases, the injuries must be caused by the motor vehicle accident.

Injuries Resulting in Death

Death: Did the motor vehicle accident result in the death of someone, for whose survivors a claim now needs to be made?

Injuries Involving Serious and Permanent Disfigurement

The next category of threshold cases involves scarring, or “serious and permanent disfigurement”. The statute requires the scar to be both “permanent” and “serious”, and Michigan cases require medical testimony, to support these issues. Arguably, the scarring threshold can be met by means of a surgical incision.

Injuries Resulting in Serious Impairment

The third and final category is that of “serious impairment.” To meet the threshold, one must have an accident-related injury, that is:

  1. Objectively manifested; and
  2. Adversely impacts the person’s ability to live his/her normal daily life.

While these seem like fact-driven issues that juries should decide, activist Michigan judges have held with some frequency, and for some time, that these are “issues of law” for them to decide.

Michigan law has swung back and forth on the issue of whether “serious impairment” can be decided, as a practical matter, by juries or by judges. The significance is this: any auto accident case that requires jury consideration is worth more, for a number of reasons.

First, jury verdicts take place at the very end of a case, after which an insurance company has often spent a large sum of money on attorney fees, paying a law firm to represent their interests. The sooner a case can resolve, the less expensive a case will be for either side.

Moreover, jury verdicts range from zero to extremely high figures, and insurance companies would prefer to avoid that exposure if they can.

Do We Sue or Do We Settle?

You may be asking yourself, don’t we want to settle quickly? Why do I need to care about juries and judges at all, if we settle? The reason is that a lawsuit is the only leverage an injured person has over a large and powerful insurance company.

I get more in settlements for my clients, by preparing their cases for trial. Pure and simple.

If the insurance company knows they will win, because the law is on their side for whatever reason, the threat of a lawsuit is not much of a threat at all. The greater the threat of a jury trial, all other things being equal (which they rarely, if ever, are), the more a case will be worth.

There are also potentially significant monetary “excess economic” claims that can be presented, that are not subject to the threshold requirements discussed above. For example, a young person, disabled for the rest of their lives, may have significant wage loss claims not covered under First-Party No-Fault rules.

In addition to the often complex rules on injury threshold, there are rules which sometimes allow health insurers, disability insurers, ERISA-qualified plans or governmental agencies (e.g., Medicare/Medicaid) to claim a part of your injury settlement.

You will need an experienced attorney to help you navigate through this often unfriendly legal thicket. Your battle may have to be waged on many fronts. Call an experienced attorney, who knows how to navigate these issues, and knows how to fight these battles.

The sooner you do, the sooner you call Jon Frank, the sooner I get to work on your matter, and the sooner the insurance company will start taking your devastated life more seriously.

Some folks say they are “not doing this for the money”. I do. Give me a call today.

Accidents Outside of Michigan

Normally, I cannot handle matters outside the State of Michigan, but there are exceptions.

Most states have rules allowing attorneys from other jurisdictions to apply for temporary admission, or “pro hac vice”. If you want me to assist in your out-of-state matter, and it makes sense for me to do so, I can apply for that temporary admission. If I do get temporary admission, I can represent you in your out-of-state matter.

What if you simply want to find an attorney out-of-state?

Other states’ auto accident rules are often just as complex as Michigan’s. You will still need experienced legal help, wherever your accident occurred.

I have access to the Nation’s top trial lawyers. I will gladly help you find qualified & skilled trial counsel in any State in the Union, through my extensive professional network.

Under Michigan law, we do not have an unlimited right to sue a negligent party, after an auto accident. There must not only be accident scene liability (e.g., the other vehicle rear-ended you, or blew through a red light, etc), but there must be a showing of “injury threshold”.  The threshold is set up by statute, specifically, MCLA 500.3135.

If the injury threshold is not met, there is no right to sue, no matter how negligent the other party is. It does not even matter if the other party was drunk, or stoned; if your injuries do not meet the threshold, there is no right to sue.  In fact, if there is no threshold injury, the case is subject to being dismissed.

Why is the right to sue important, if you really do not want to sue at all, or if you do not want to have the case tried before a jury?

The right to sue is important, because the threat of suit is one of the few “hammers” a lawyer can hold over an insurance company. If there is no right to sue, there is no bargaining power with the insurance company. So, it is important to know about injury thresholds.

MCLA 500.3135(1) makes clear that there is potential liability only when one of three injury thresholds is met: 1) Death 2) Serious Permanent Disfigurement; or 3) Serious Impairment of body Function.


Death is easily enough understood. If someone died in a motor vehicle accident, as a result of someone else’s negligence, that negligent party can be sued, and held responsible. Sometimes, though rarely, causation may be an issue; did the accident really cause the death? However, if someone did die as a result of an auto accident, threshold will not be an issue.

Serious Permanent Disfigurement

“Serious Permanent Disfigurement”, refers to physical scars that result from a vehicle accident. The scars must be both “permanent” and “serious”, to form the basis of a “scar” claim. In turn, that usually requires a two-step analysis, first by the experienced attorney, taking photos of the scars over time, to document as best can be done, the development of the scar. Is the scar “going away”, or becoming less visible?

Secondly, scar cases usually require the analysis and expert testimony of a plastic surgeon or other medical professional, who regularly works with scars on their patients. Is the scar visible/invisible? Can the scar be “revised”, or made invisible/less noticeable? The “seriousness” of a scar, depends on where it is located. Is the scar grotesque or “off-putting”? Is it obscured by hair on the top of one’s head, or is it located on a part of the body, normally covered by clothing?

These are not hard and fast rules. Obviously, the more serious the scar, the less likely will there be a dispute as to whether the scar meets threshold.  There are cases holding that even scars obscured by hair or clothing, might meet the Michigan threshold of “permanent serious disfigurement”. See, e.g., Fisher v Blankenship, 286 Mich App 54; 777 NW2d 469 (2009).

I have had my own clients’ scar cases challenged by insurance companies on threshold motions, or motions to dismiss based on the alleged failure to meet the “serious & permanent disfigurement” threshold”.  The insurers argued that my clients’ scars were not “serious”, or were not “permanent”.  I have not lost one of these motions; I kept my clients’ claims alive, to enable some discussions leading to significant monetary recoveries.

The bottom line: you need to be careful hiring a lawyer to handle a scar case, resulting from a car/truck accident. You need someone experienced in this area of the law, like Jon Frank.

Serious Impairment of Body Function

This third category, is the most litigated and disputed area of Michigan injury threshold law, both at the appellate and trial court level.  Again, if there is no death or scarring, and the injuries do not meet this third and last threshold, the case is subject to dismissal — no matter how negligent, drunk, or even stoned the at-fault driver may have been.

Under MCLA 500.3135(5), a “serious impairment” injury is one involving:

1)  An “objectively manifested impairment”;

2)  Of an “important body function”

3)  That affects the person’s general ability to lead his/her normal life.

To be “objectively manifested”, an injury must be subject to independent confirmation.  Typically, this involves an x-ray, EMG, MRI, CT Scan, etc; this is not a complete list, but it does give you an idea.  Clinical findings, such as palpable spasm, positive results on generally accepted clinical tests, such as straight leg raising, may also constitute “objective manifestation”.

The objective manifestation must relate to an impairment of an “important body function”.  This second category may seem pointless, or even silly, given that to each one of us, ALL body functions are considered important.  Who among us, is willing to give up the pinky tip on their non-dominant hand?  (Not me, I will tell you!!)

However, Michigan’s appellate courts, under the guidance of a biased state Supreme Court, has over the years, and has actively sought out areas in which the rights of Michigan accident victims can be limited.  While there has not been a great deal of litigation, explaining the extent of what makes a body function “important”, our State’s current appellate courts may use it as a source of upcoming law, to limit injury victims’ access to the courts, to obtain compensation for their injuries.

Finally, to be a “serious impairment” injury, it must “affect the person’s general ability to lead his/her normal life”.  What does that mean? That will depend on an analysis of what activities the person did before the accident, and on what activities the person was able to do before that he/she can no longer do, or cannot do nearly as well.  How important were these activities to the injured person? Maybe it is the inability to maintain a clean house; maybe, the inability to do physical sports pursuits, resulting in a diminution of the person’s social life; maybe it is an inability to get up/down stairs, to walk, to bike, to make love, etc., etc.

There are simply too many facets to a person’s life, and even more when multiplied by the millions of people in our society.  The bottom line is this: did the loss of the activity, or the new limits on the person’s ability to do the activity, affect the person’s general ability to lead his/her normal life.

These seem like case-by-case, fact-driven inquiries, right? Did the accident impact on your ability to do the daily bike ride, or walk? Can you no longer exercise as a result of a back injury, and now have a weight problem, because you cannot exercise?  Or are these limitations due to pre-accident arthritis, or a previous unrelated injury? Again, this seems like a factual inquiry, appropriate for resolution, only by a fact-finder, such as a jury.

However, under MCLA 500.3135(2), these factual questions are made “questions of law” for resolution by a trial judge.  In other words, a judge gets to decide how important it is for you to walk your dog, make love to your partner with a certain frequency, work, recreate, etc.

This was one of many shameful aspects of the trend called “tort reform”, which is really a race to the bottom, driven by the agendas and biases of insurance companies who are paid well, to compensate injury victims, yet often refuse to comply with their insuring agreements to do so, when called upon.

However, this is Michigan law, and thus all the more reason, you need a seasoned experienced lawyer in your auto/truck accident matter.  Whether your accident was in Mecosta or Macomb County, Oakland or Ontonogan County, call Jon Frank today, your Michigan auto accident attorney.

With the change in the No-Fault Act, effective in 2020, Michigan motorists are now given an option to choose between various no-fault plans, some with limits, or caps, on coverage. 

This was sold to MI motorists on the idea that the insurance would be cheaper.  It won’t be.  It is nothing but a shell game, designed to make people who wisely opt for unlimited coverage, pay more for the coverage they always had.  Oh, and by the way, the limited or “capped” coverages will get more expensive over time.  That is just how insurance companies roll.

Because we are all going to get hosed by an insurance carrier, one way or another, you might as well opt for the coverage that will provide the greatest protection for you and your family: the “unlimited option”.

What happens though if you opt for one of these lower coverages, and you get struck by an at-fault driver motorist (who rear-ends you, or blows through a red light)?


Let’s say you opted for the $250,000.00 limit, which is not a small amount of money, but we all know what health care costs these days.  Let’s say your bills total, e.g., $400,000.00.  What about the uncovered $150,000.00?  Under the new revisions to the law, you can now sue for this uncovered margin.  While that sounds great, it isn’t; that claim will be tied up, until resolved either by a court, or by the parties.

Let’s say you were an uninsured pedestrian, struck by a fully insured motorist; I am currently handling just such a case, where the accident victim was hospitalized for two weeks.  The hospital bill alone was $200,000.00. 

One of the other revisions to the law, was that an uninsured person like my client, must now get his coverage through the “Assigned Claims Plan”, which you can find out more about, on the No-fault page of this website.  Unfortunately, the limits are only $250,000.00, a figure which sounds big, until the hospital’s accounting department and collection agency, come calling.

This very complex area of the law, just got more complex.  You need an experienced attorney, to guide you through this process.  Give Jon Frank a call at (586) 727-1900, or email at

You just got rear-ended by someone who was driving their parents’ car, and you are hurt badly. Apart from whatever claims you have against the at-fault driver, can you sue the parents who own the vehicle?

The short answer is yes, and for a number of reasons, too.  This could become important, if either of these two theories, for suing the owner does not work, legally.

The first is “owner liability”, under MCLA §257.401, which holds that an owner of a vehicle can be sued, when he/she has given permission to use that vehicle, to a driver, who then drives negligently.  If that driver took the vehicle without consent, either by theft, or by “joyriding”, there may be a way for the owner of the vehicle to escape liability.  Members of the same family, at least those of sufficiently close family, are presumed to have given/obtained consent to use the motor vehicle.

The other theory is one of “negligent entrustment”.  Just as a driver who rear-ends you in traffic is negligent, for rear-ending you in traffic, so too, is someone who loaned out their vehicle to someone who should never have been allowed to borrow a car.  What is an example? I just concluded a six-figure settlement on a matter, where a mother loaned her adult daughter a vehicle.  The adult daughter had no fewer than six arrests for driving under the influence of either alcohol, or heroin/pills, etc.  The adult daughter also had an arrest for a theft offense, involving breaking & entering, where she was evidently borrowing her mother’s vehicle on a previous occasion.

When you need to make sure the responsible party pays, give Jon Frank a call at (586) 727-1900, or email at

What happens if the at-fault driver has no insurance, or if he/she flees the scene? Who do you collect from in that case?

In Michigan, there is an optional (non-mandatory) coverage, for just this type of occurrence.  It is called “uninsured motorist coverage”.  If you are struck by someone who has no insurance, or if you are struck by someone like my client in Dearborn Heights, whose at-fault driver fled the scene, then you and I must contact your insurance company, who legally “stands in the shoes” of the uninsured motorist.  “Standing in the shoes” is a legal term, that means that they defend the claim, as though they themselves were the at-fault motorist, with all of the defenses that would be available to that person. 

For example, if the at-fault motorist has a plausible claim that you did not sustain a serious impairment injury (BEHRAD/AMY insert link to serious impairment page), then your insurance company, as the “uninsured motorist (or UM) carrier” would be entitled to assert that defense.  If they wanted to contend that you stopped short, causing the rear-end vehicle collision, or e.g., that you were the one who blew the red light, they could do that.

One thing to be careful about, and that is that because this coverage is not mandatory in Michigan, as it is in some other states, its terms are considered “contractual”.  In plain English, that means that if you do not comply with all of the terms of the insurance contract, you get no coverage, no matter how much you paid for this policy. 

This becomes important, where insurance companies (State Farm in particular) set up hoops that we have to jump through, as uninsured motorist claimants.  This also becomes important, in the context of a hit-and-run, where insurance contracts typically require proof of contact (a dent, paint transfer, or something of the like).

This is a complex area of the law, with a lot of “traps for the unwary”.  How do you deal with it, then?  Give Jon Frank a call at (586) 727-1900, or email at

Frequently Asked Questions. Honest Answers.

No, but that doesn’t mean you won’t end up in court. Insurance companies will often offer a quick “lowball” settlement offer to you, before you hire a lawyer.

Rarely, if ever, will they offer you full, or even reasonable value for your claim, because they know that most folks do not know what is reasonable or full value. They are in the business of putting dollar values on injury claims, and they take advantage of the fact that most people do not have this knowledge. That is the biggest reason you need an attorney experienced in Michigan auto accident law.

Hopefully, you went to the emergency room, or to your personal physician. Your health & well- being is the most important thing – even more important than filing a claim. Secondarily, it is important to seek medical attention to establish whether your injuries are serious or not, from a legal perspective. It is also important, so that your own insurance company cannot deny later claims, on the basis that you never sought out any post-accident medical attention.

Once you are stabilized, give Jon Frank a call, to see whether the other driver is at fault, and whether your injuries meet the tough Michigan injury threshold. Call as soon as possible, so Jon can begin the process of collecting evidence.

Am I Limited to The Amount of The Other Driver’s Insurance?

Not necessarily, and much will depend on how large the other driver’s limits are. It will also depend on how severe your damages are.

In most non-fatal auto accidents, where there are no aggravating circumstances, such as drunk driving by the at-fault driver, we have to review carefully, the business merit in going after the at-fault driver’s personal assets. Also, his/her insurance company is not going to settle with you, unless you are willing to give their insured customer a release.

This is a very complex subject, that we will need to talk about. Give me a call.

Not necessarily, and much will depend on how large the other driver’s limits are. It will also depend on how severe your damages are.

In most non-fatal auto accidents, where there are no aggravating circumstances, such as drunk driving by the at-fault driver, we have to review carefully, the business merit in going after the at-fault driver’s personal assets. Also, his/her insurance company is not going to settle with you, unless you are willing to give their insured customer a release.

This is a very complex subject, that we will need to talk about. Give me a call

In most cases, there is a three year time limit, although it is NEVER a good idea to wait that long. Witnesses and evidence disappear.

In cases involving government owned vehicles (buses, police vehicles, etc), the time limit may be shorter. Also, a written “Notice of Claim” must be sent to the government agency which owned the vehicle, and that must be done, usually within 60 days of an accident. Failure to comply with complex “Notice of Claim” rules can result in good claims being lost, meaning no money to help you in your devastation and pain.

Yes, as long as you were either a passenger, or if you were driving, as long as you were not driving your own uninsured vehicle.

Be careful about this: if you are allowed to drive someone else’s car, more than 30 days per year, you are considered a “constructive owner”, with a responsibility to insure the vehicle – even if someone else is the title owner.

If you have access to “uninsured motorist coverage”, or UM, your own insurance company will compensate you up to the limit of coverage.

Because this coverage is not mandatory in Michigan, uninsured motorist insurance companies are allowed to shorten the time to make a claim, or to require “notices of claim”, and other requirements, within short periods of time after the accident. Call Jon Frank to protect your rights, when you are faced with this situation.

I know how devastating auto accidents can be. In addition to the mounting bills, you have less and less coming in. That is why I guarantee that there will be no fee, unless I collect from the other driver’s policy.

If you have access to “underinsured motorist coverage”, or UIM, your insurance company may provide additional coverage.

Here too, the rules are complex. You cannot settle with the first, inadequate layer of insurance coverage, unless you get the permission of the UIM carrier. Make sure you do not undermine your own UIM rights. You need to call Jon Frank first!

Under Michigan law, if you were less than 50% the cause of your own accident, you should still be able to collect, although a jury’s dollar award will be reduced, by the amount of your fault.

For example, if you were awarded $100,000.00 by a jury, and you were found to be 40% at fault, your award will be reduced by 40%.

If you were more than 50% at fault, Michigan law prevents you from collecting. This assessment of fault is something only an experienced lawyer, like Jon Frank can provide. Call me.

I Am Glad to Help – Without Charge. Tell Us How We Can Contact You. Again, The Consultation is Free