Filing a Lawsuit After A Crash: What You Need To Know

Michigan Auto Law

Special rules apply to filing a lawsuit in Michigan against the at-fault driver who causes a car crash for pain and suffering compensation, lost wages, medical bills, future economic loss, and vehicle repair costs.

A person who is injured in a car accident in Michigan can bring a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation against the at-fault driver, but the injured person must first be able to show that he or she has suffered a “serious impairment of body function.”

This “serious impairment of body function” requirement is a threshold test that any person injured in a motor vehicle crash in Michigan must be able to satisfy in order to recover pain and suffering compensation.

Under Michigan’s auto No-Fault insurance law, this threshold test is part of a balancing act between the state’s first-party No-Fault law which requires your own insurance company to pay No-Fault personal protection insurance benefits – also known as No-Fault PIP benefits – to you to cover your collision-related medical expenses and to reimburse you for lost wages if you are unable to return to work. To balance out those benefits which are paid without regard to fault, the tort law allows you to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering against the at-fault driver who injured you only if you have suffered a “serious impairment of body function.” .

Although a person who has been injured in a car accident can still sue the at-fault driver for “excess” wage loss benefits, as a result of Michigan’s new auto No-Fault insurance law that took effect June 11, 2019, the injured person can also now sue the at-fault driver for future wage loss benefits as well as present and future “excess” medical benefits. The “excess” medical benefits claim will provide money damages to cover the extent to which the injured person’s medical bills exceed the amount that the auto insurance company is obligated to pay under the policy, which is determined by the No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level that was chosen in the policy.

The Michigan mini tort law allows a person whose vehicle was damaged in a car crash to sue the at-fault driver to recover damages to cover repair costs. However, in order to be able to recover, the at-fault driver must be 50% or more at-fault and the person whose vehicle was damaged must have had car insurance.

In summary, there are 3 potential lawsuits that can be filed against the at-fault driver after a car crash: (1) The at-fault driver can be sued for the injured person’s pain and suffering compensation; (2) The at-fault driver can be sued for “excess” No-Fault wage loss benefits and “excess” No-Fault medical benefits; and (3) The at-fault driver can be sued for vehicle damage repair costs in a mini tort claim.

Is there a monetary limit?

Michigan law imposes no monetary limit for suing someone after a car accident in terms of pain and suffering compensation and excess wage loss and medical benefits. Your recovery against an at-fault driver for pain and suffering and/or excess wage loss or medical benefits will likely be limited to the extent of his or her liability insurance coverage – unless the at-fault driver has significant personal assets that you can go after if the driver’s liability to you exceeds what his or her auto insurance is obligated to pay.

Under Michigan’s new auto law, drivers are now required to carry bodily injury liability insurance – which is also called third-party insurance – with limits of $250,000 and $500,000, although the law permits drivers to choose dramatically lower bodily injury insurance limits of $50,000 and $100,000 as well.

The most that can be recovered for vehicle damage repair costs in a mini tort claim is limited to $3,000 for damages that are not covered by insurance.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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