How do I know if we should go to small claims court or do we hire a lawyer for district court?

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How do I know if we should go to small claims court or do we hire a lawyer for district court?

My wife was in an auto accident. We won the case and the insurer settled. In the settlement, it agreed to cover medical expenses for the rest of my wife’s life. However, now it has stopped and my wife has mounting, past due medical bills and no more medical assistance. We need legal advise on suing the insurer to cover the bills, continue covering medical expenses and cover the cost of any legal fees.

Asked on February 8, 2017 under Personal Injury, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Small claims court has monetary limits on it: in your state, that limit is $5,500.00. All courts, small claims or not, require that if you are suing about something, you have to bring *all* claims against that party arising out of that act at once--you can't sue for some of the money now, then more money later, etc. Rather, if you failed to bring all the claims together, the claims you did not bring will be barred by the "entire controversy doctrine" and you will lose them. So unless the TOTAL amount not paid--all the past due medical bills and projected future bills--is less than $5,500, don't go to small claims court. Since it's highly likely that you are looking at significantly more money than that, hire an attorney to sue in district or county court for *all* the costs, payments, etc. to which you are entitled, for the rest of your wife's life. Lawyers charge different rates, and some will work hourly (e.g. for a fixed charge per hour), while others may take a case like this on a contingency basis (they get a share, usually around 25% - 35%, of what they win for you, and are only paid if you win); you can talk to several attorneys and try to find one who's cost, way of billing, etc. works best for you.


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