Who Pays for Car Accident Compensation in Michigan?
You've been hurt in a car accident, and your life has suddenly become much more complicated. The treatment for your injuries leaves you with mounting medical bills. But you can't return to work right away and you're losing wages. Then there's the property damage. The cost of an accident can run up quickly, to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Who is going to pay for these costs? Many drivers who have been in accident aren't sure how they can recover damages. That's why the car accident attorneys at Fraser & Souweidane, P.C. have prepared this guide on compensation for auto accidents in Michigan.
Filing a claim with your insurance company
Michigan is a "no-fault" state. This means that if you are injured in a car accident, your own insurance company pays for damages. These are called no-fault benefits (sometimes referred to as first-party benefits or Personal Injury Protection benefits). A basic no-fault policy includes coverage for:
- Medical expenses-your policy covers expenses for medical treatment and rehabilitation related to your injury
- Mileage reimbursement-If you have to travel for medical treatment
- Lost wages-if you miss work, you can be reimbursed for up to 85% of your lost wages for up to 3 years
- Attendant care-for example, if you need home nursing care
- Replacement services-up to $20 a day for help if you are unable to perform household tasks, such as cleaning and yardwork, for up to 3 years
You can also purchase additional insurance, such as collision coverage, which would cover the costs of repairs to your vehicle after an accident, or a replacement vehicle if yours can't be repaired.
Filing a "mini-tort" claim
In Michigan, you can seek compensation for damage to your vehicle from the other driver's insurance company by filing a "mini-tort" claim. The other driver must be more than 50% responsible for the accident, and the maximum compensation you can collect is $1,000. If you are more than 50% responsible for the accident, the other driver can file a mini-tort claim against you. Your insurance company will pay it if you have purchased optional limited property damage liability coverage. If you don't have this coverage, you will have to pay the $1,000 out of your own pocket.
Filing a lawsuit against the other driver
If the other driver was more than 50% responsible for the accident, you can file a lawsuit for damages. But you are limited in the types of damages you can include in the lawsuit. You can't seek damages for medical expenses or lost wages that are covered by your no-fault benefits. But you can seek compensation for non-economic losses, including pain and suffering, disability and loss of support, as well as excess wage loss - that is, lost income over and above the statutory cap that you can recover from your own no-fault benefits. Successful lawsuits are usually paid for by the other driver's insurance company.
Uninsured and underinsured drivers
In Michigan, drivers are required to purchase liability insurance. These policies must carry minimum liability limits of:
- $20,000 for bodily injury to a single person, per accident
- $40,000 total for all injuries in a single accident
- $10,000 for property damage, per accident.
If you are in an accident, you may be able to seek damages for pain and suffering, excess wage loss and other damages from the other driver's insurance company. But what if the other driver does not have enough insurance coverage-or no insurance at all?
When you buy car insurance, you have the option of adding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. When you have this coverage, your insurance company will cover the cost of damages that normally would be sought from the other driver. It also provides protection if you are the victim of a hit-and-run.
If you've been injured in a car accident, call us at (866) 465-9095 for a free case evaluation. One of our experienced attorneys will go over your legal options with you.