METRO DETROIT CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER
The Michigan State Police report that 71,378 people suffered injuries as a result of car accidents in the state of Michigan in 2014. A car accident, no matter the severity, can have devastating affects on your daily life, and the daily lives of your family. You may have suffered severe injuries, a long hospital stay, expensive hospital and doctor’s bills, require home care, and be unable to work.
At Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers, we understand the difficulties and uncertainty Michigan accident victims experience in the days and months after a car accident. We pride ourselves on treating our Michigan clients with compassion, dignity and resect in the most challenging times of their lives. We will aggressively investigate the facts and circumstances of your auto accident case to determine your rights to compensation. Don’t delay getting the compensation you deserve, contact Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers today for a consultation and free evaluation of your case.
The Michigan No-Fault Act divides the rights of car accident victims into two types of claims: a first-party claim and a third-party claim. A first-party claim is a direct claim brought by a party injured in a car accident against the responsible no-fault insurer for certain economic losses – typically hospital and medical expenses, wage loss and replacement services. The responsible insurer, either through contract or law, is required to pay no-fault first-party benefits to the injured party, even if he or she is completely at fault for the accident. Typically, this is the injured person’s own insurer.
A third-party claim is essentially a negligence action against the driver or owner of the vehicle that caused injury for non-economic damages, such as the pain and suffering of the injured party, and economic damages in excess of those allowable in a first-party claim. However, Michigan Law requires, that in order to recover damages for pain and suffering, the car accident victim’s injuries must meet Michigan’s “injury threshold” (discussed below).
OVERVIEW OF MICHIGAN NO-FAULT RECOVERY
Take for example a two-car collision involving cars A and B, where B was at fault for the accident and both cars are insured. The following chart outlines the party responsible for each loss or injury:
|Loss or Injury||Recovery Under MI No-Fault|
|A’s medical and rehabilitative expenses – past, present, and future||From A’s insurer|
|A’s actual wage loss – past, present and future||From A’s insurer, up to statutory maximum for three years; (excess from B)|
|A’s replacement services||From A’s insurer, up to statutory maximum $20/day for three years; (excess from B)|
|A’s pain, suffering,disfigurement – past, present, and future||From B if “injury threshold” is met|
|A’s vehicle damage||From A’s insurer if A had optional collision coverage, but up to $1,000.00 from B|
|B’s injuries – including medical expenses, wage loss, and replacement services||B has the same rights as A, and would recover no-fault benefits from his or her insurer. B would recover damages to his vehicle from his or her own insurer. However, B has no right to sue A for pain, suffering and disfigurement, since B was at fault.|
Every owner of a car in the state of Michigan is required by law to have certain basic No-Fault insurance. In exchange, the responsible no-fault insurance provider is "liable to pay benefits for accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle." MCL 500.3105(1). This is true, even if the insured was at fault for the injury-producing accident. These first-party benefits, commonly referred to as personal injury protection (PIP) benefits include:
- Medical Expenses – All reasonable and necessary medical and rehabilitative expenses. This includes hospital and doctor’s bills, home nursing care, occupational and vocational rehabilitation, and accommodations for a modification to a home or vehicle.
- Wage Loss – 85% of lost wages for a period of three years.
- Replacement Services – Maximum of $20.00 per day for a period of three years. These are expenses that the injured person incurs because her or she can no longer perform certain services. Covered services include housekeeping, transportation, care for minor children, and other household services. Related: Replacement Services vs Attendant Care.
- Survivor Loss Benefits – If the accident results in death, benefits are provided to the deceased’s dependents for loss of income. These benefits also include payment of funeral and burial expenses.
Unfortunately, the responsible no-fault insurer does not always provide the benefits required by contract or law and a first-party claim ensues. A first-party claim is a claim by the insured against the responsible no-fault insurance carrier to compel the insurer to provide no-fault benefits.
If you have been improperly denied the no-fault benefits you deserve, you need a competent and experienced attorney on your side. Contact the Metro Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation, and let us fight to get you the no-fault benefits you are owed.
WHO IS THE RESPONSIBLE NO-FAULT INSURER?
Typically under Michigan No-Fault law, the injured person recovers no-fault benefits under his or her own insurance policy. However, this is not the case in every situation. Michigan No-Fault law establishes an “order of priority” to determine who the responsible no-fault insurer is:
- Your Own Insurance Policy: Your own insurance policy pays your first-party benefits after a car accident. This is true even if you were a passenger or pedestrian, and even if you were at fault for the accident.
- Resident Relative’s Insurance Policy: If you do not have an insurance policy, you may be able to recover first-party benefits under the policy of a relative in the same household, such as a spouse, parent, or sibling.
- Insurance Policy of the Owner of the Vehicle Occupied: If there is no insurance policy that covers you in your household, then you are covered under the policy of the owner of the vehicle you occupied.
- Insurance Policy of the Driver of the Vehicle Occupied: If the vehicle you occupied did not have insurance, but the driver of that vehicle did, you can seek first-party benefits from the driver’s insurance provider.
- State of Michigan Assigned Claims Plan: If none of the above applies, then you can seek first-party benefits from the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP). The MACP is a State Agency that will assign an insurance company to provide benefits to you when no no-fault insurer is available and the injured party is not excluded from no-fault coverage.
Whether you were the driver, passenger, or even a pedestrian, the Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers can help you secure the first-party no-fault benefits you are owed. Whether you need help with getting benefits for hospital and medical bills, wage loss, replacement services or survivor loss benefits, don't delay in contacting our office. We understand the complexities of the Michigan No-Fault law, and will fight to get you benefits for every accident related expense you deserve.
CAN I BE EXCLUDED FROM RECEIVING NO-FAULT BENEFITS?
There are some situations in which an accident victim may be excluded from receiving no-fault benefits. For instance, if your car is stolen and involved in an accident, the car thief is excluded from no-fault coverage. Certain out-of-state motorists may be excluded if their insurance company has not filed a certificate of compliance with the state of Michigan.
You are also excluded under the law if you are the person seeking benefits and an uninsured vehicle you owned was involved in the accident. Additionally, the no-fault claimant is excluded from coverage for injuries he or she intentionally caused.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF NO-FAULT COVERAGE?
The basic minimum coverage that each Michigan vehicle owner must purchase to be in compliance with state law contains three parts:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): As discussed above, PIP benefits pay for your hospital and medical bills, wage loss, replacement services, and survivor loss benefits up to the maximum amount allowable under the law.
- Property Protection (PPI): Your no-fault carrier will pay up to $1 million for damage that your vehicle does in Michigan to other people’s property including buildings, fences and other people’s properly parked vehicles.
- Bodily Injury and Property Damage: Aside from a certain exceptions, Michigan No-Fault law protects insured persons from being sued as a result of a car accident. Generally, you can only be sued:
- If you caused an accident in Michigan, in which the other party meets the injury threshold;
- If you were involved in an accident in Michigan with a non-resident who is an occupant of a vehicle that is not registered in Michigan;
- If you were involved in an accident in another state; or
- For up to $1,000.00 for damages to another person’s car if not covered by insurance and if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident.
These are only the minimum requirements by law. You may also want to buy insurance coverage for repairs to your own vehicle (Collision and Comprehensive Coverage). It is always best to know your coverage before you are involved in an accident so there are no surprises. Carefully read your insurance policy and contact your insurance agent with questions about coverage.
In addition to the first-party claim, you may be entitled to bring a third-party claim against the at fault driver. A third party claim is a negligence action against the driver or owner of the vehicle that caused the accident. Third-party claims are filed against the at fault driver’s insurance provider. The damages recoverable in a third-party claim include noneconomic damages like pain, suffering, and disfigurement, as well as any economic loss that exceed the maximum yearly allowable no-fault first-party benefits.
In Michigan however, in order to recover damages for pain and suffering, the injured party must meet the Michigan no-fault damages threshold. This means that the injured party must have suffered one of the following injuries:
- Permanent Serious Disfigurement; or
- Serious Impairment of a Body Function
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Under Michigan law, drivers are required to carry liability insurance coverage of at least $20,000 for one individual and $40,000 for more than one individual for bodily injury or death. MCL 257.520(b)(2). What happens, however, when your injuries exceed the $20,000 minimum policy of the other driver, or if the driver who hit you did not have insurance?
Uninsured motorist coverage allows insured persons to seek damages that they would otherwise be entitled to recover from the uninsured motorist. This includes damages for pain and suffering. Similarly, underinsured motorist coverage permits recovery for the injured person from his or her own insurance company for the damages sustained in an accident with an underinsured driver. A driver is underinsured, when the damages of the person he or she hit exceed the driver’s insurance policy limits. Underinsured motorist coverage helps to insure drivers against others who carry only the state minimum third-party coverage ($20,000/$40,000). Here, the party injured by an underinsured driver will file a claim with his or her own insurer for the difference between what is recovered from the at-fault driver and the policy limits of the underinsured motorist coverage.
To recover under an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, the injured plaintiff must be able to show that the other driver was uninsured or underinsured, and was at fault for the injuries sustained. Furthermore, underinsured or underinsured motorist coverage often requires that the injured person must have had physical contact with the at-fault driver’s vehicle. Uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage is not required by Michigan law, but is offered as an option by most insurance companies. These policies often cover any person occupying the vehicle that is involved in the accident. This will depend, however, on the specific policy language of the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers
Whether you have a first-party claim, a third party claim, or both, you need an experienced and knowledgeable car accident attorney on your side to help you navigate the complexities of the Michigan No-Fault system. Let the Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers handle the complicated car accident claims process so you can focus on getting better.
Our goal is to treat our car accident clients with the utmost compassion and provide quality representation during this difficult time in their lives. If you or someone you love has been injured in a Michigan car accident, contact the Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers today for a free evaluation of your case.
* For more information on car accidents and Michigan No-Fault Law, visit our car accident blog.