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What is a Duty of Care in a Michigan Car Crash?

 traffic signal no turn on redAll Michigan drivers owe a reasonable standard – called a duty of care - to prevent purposely or foreseeably causing harm to others they encounter while driving.

Jay Trucks and Associates talk about a driver’s duty of care in Michigan and how this standard can help to establish negligence if you are injured by a careless or negligent driver.

Our firm is prepared to help you file your no-fault benefits claim and determine if you may be eligible for additional compensation through a liability case. Learn more when you schedule a free case review – there is no obligation for this service.

Do Michigan Driver’s Owe a Duty of Care?

In short, yes. When any driver gets out on the road, it is his or her responsibility to take reasonable steps – as an ordinary person would – to prevent others from being harmed.

When a duty of care is broken or violated, the person or persons responsible may be held liable for any injuries or damages that result.

Who is Owed a Duty of Care?

Essentially, as a driver, you owe a duty of care to any person or other vehicle you encounter while operating your vehicle, including:

  • Pedestrians
  • Bicyclists
  • Motorcycle riders
  • Drivers of other motor vehicles

What Are Reasonable Steps in a Duty of Care?

A duty of care is considered to be the behavior that any reasonable person would have taken given similar circumstances.

Here are some examples:

  • Approaching a red traffic light: A reasonable person knows that running the light would put others at risk, so stopping at the light is the reasonable behavior. Running the red light violates the duty of care owed to others.
  • Driving drunk: Drinking and driving is known to reduce a driver's ability to drive safely. It is also against the law, because it can cause serious and fatal car crashes. A reasonable person would not operate his or her vehicle under these conditions. 
  • Distracted driving - or not paying attention: Another form of impaired driving that is a leading cause of accidents. A reasonable person would realize that reading or sending a text message can wait until he or she gets home.
  • Driving with bad brakes: It is every car owner's duty to maintain his or her vehicle. Not repairing brakes may make it impossible for a driver to stop - or stop in time. A driver who has an accident in this situation has breached the duty of care owed to the other party.
  • Erratically changing lanes and not signalling: It is also a breached duty of care that may lead to a crash and cause harm to others.

While reasonable behavior is not always so clearly defined, these examples show behavior that would be considered unreasonable and a violation of the duty of care a driver owes to others.

Does Duty of Care Matter in a No-Fault State Like Michigan?

Generally speaking, if you are involved in an accident in Michigan, you can pursue a claim for no-fault benefits to recover medical costs and lost wages, regardless of who was at-fault. However, in many car crashes, your no-fault benefits are often not enough to cover the costs of all your damages.

In situations where an individual suffers more serious injuries, the law looks to liability, including what actions or inactions may have contributed to the crash.

How Do You Prove Violation of a Duty of Care?

Proving another driver was negligent - and violated his or her duty of care - is complicated. Unfortunately, the burden of establishing a breached duty of care is just one step in the legal process of proving the other party was negligent. This is why we recommend hiring an attorney to fight for your best interests and ensure that you are not assigned more than your fair share of liability.

Michigan follows a modified comparative fault system, which means if you are assigned more than 50 percent liability, you will be barred from pursuing any other compensation outside of your no-fault insurance benefits.

That said, a licensed attorney who understands state and federal laws, will establish the at-fault party’s liability by:

  • Establishing the driver owed you a duty of care - such as a driver traveling behind you in the same lane of traffic
  • Showing the other driver violated that duty - in this same scenario, the driver may be following too closely
  • That duty breach caused the crash that led to your injuries and other losses - the driver was unable to stop in time and hit your car
  • You suffered tangible damages – expensive medical bills, lost wages, or the cost of getting your car fixed are examples of real damages

Our Law Firm is Ready to Help You Throughout the Legal Process

At Jay Trucks, we have decades of legal knowledge, experience and proven history. We have recovered millions in compensation for our clients, and we are prepared to fight for the maximum available compensation for you.

Get started by finding out if you may have a case. We offer a free consultation for this purpose. It is a great opportunity to meet with one of our qualified car accident attorneys in Flint, get answers to your legal questions and learn about your legal options.

If we find you have a case, you can hire us or not, but if you do, it will cost you nothing up front. We do not collect our fees until your case concludes – and only if we recover compensation for you.

Call for your FREE case review today: (800) 762-8623