Michigan No-Fault Law

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car accident injury

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Michigan, you will quickly become acquainted with Michigan’s no-fault system. As someone injured in a car crash, you need to understand the details of Michigan’s no-fault laws and understand your rights and options under the no-fault system so that you can maximize your financial recovery for the injuries and damages you’ve suffered in the accident.

We’ve provided information to help you understand Michigan’s no-fault laws and your right to benefits. If you have any questions about how the no-fault laws apply to your situation, the Michigan personal injury accident attorneys at Christensen Law are here for you. We’re happy to review your case and discuss how we can help you in a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us today or reach out online.

Understanding No-Fault Benefits in Michigan

No-fault benefits are a type of coverage included in your Michigan auto insurance policy, unless you opt out under special circumstances. This coverage protects you and your passengers in the event of an accident, regardless of who may have been at fault for the accident – including even if you were entirely responsible for the crash.

No-fault benefits, also sometimes called personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or first-party coverage, provides you and your passengers compensation for:

  • “Allowable” medical expenses not covered by your health insurance, including co-pays and deductibles, for any treatment that you need for your injuries
  • 85 percent of your lost wages (up to a statutory cap that adjusts each year) for time missed from work while recovering from injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident, for a period of up to three years
  • Up to $20 per day for “replacement services,” including household chores and services like cleaning, laundry, and lawn care that you can no longer do yourself due to your injuries

Levels of PIP Coverage

July 2020 saw major changes for PIP laws and Michigan drivers. Up until that point in time, drivers could get unlimited lifetime medical coverage related to their motor-vehicle accident. Now, state law allows drivers to choose between different levels of PIP coverage. The levels of PIP coverage available in Michigan include:

  • Unlimited PIP coverage – this is the best option for most drivers
  • $500,000 of PIP coverage
  • $250,000 of PIP coverage
  • $250,000 of limited PIP coverage, which excludes someone with qualifying medical coverage, not including Medicare
  • $50,000 of PIP coverage, if you’re on Medicaid

It is possible to decline PIP insurance altogether. You can opt out of PIP insurance completely if you have health insurance that covers car accidents. People choosing this option can have Medicare A and B or another qualifying coverage. However, many health insurance policies do not cover car crash injuries.

Generally, unlimited PIP is the best course of action for most drivers. It offers the best protection in the event of a catastrophic accident.

Suing an At-Fault Driver After an Auto Accident in Michigan

Although Michigan follows No-Fault auto insurance laws, you can still file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver. Although your PIP covers losses like medical expenses and some lost income, your injuries and losses may be far greater than your policy allows. If this is the case, you could file a lawsuit to seek additional damages. However, you must meet the serious injury threshold established by Michigan state law.

The other party will try to push back against your claims, as they do not want to pay you for the serious harm caused by the other driver’s negligence. Our car accident lawyers can help you seek full and fair compensation as needed.

Motorcycle Accidents and PIP

Plenty of Michiganders enjoy the freedoms that a motorcycle offers. However, it’s important to consider your insurance coverage before getting on your bike. Although Michigan is a No-Fault state, bikers do not have PIP coverage on their motorcycles. They do not go through their own PIP for damages, which can be confusing for many people.

If you were riding your motorcycle and were hit by someone driving a motor vehicle, your first step is to seek damages from the other driver’s PIP. However, motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles under state law, so if your accident involves another motorcyclist, this option is not available.

If you cannot seek PIP benefits, you can try going through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP). The MACP offers up to $250,00 in PIP benefits to bikers and can provide much-needed relief.

Understanding the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) is a non-profit entity established by the No-Fault Auto Insurance Act intended to cover medical expenses to treat catastrophic injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents in Michigan.

The MCCA collects a fee from every insured driver in Michigan through their auto insurance policy, with the collected fees pooled into a fund administered by the MCCA.

If an insurance company must pay for medical treatments for catastrophic or serious injuries, the insurance company can look to the MCCA for help in paying for those medical expenses. Typically, an insurer must pay out more than $550,000 in no-fault benefits for an individual injured in an accident before turning to the MCCA for help.

Coordinated Coverage and Subtracted Benefits

No-fault benefits are intended to ensure anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident can access health care to treat their injuries. However, if you are receiving other compensation or benefits for your injuries and damages suffered in your accident, Michigan law may allow your auto insurance company to offset the compensation and benefits you receive from other sources from your No-Fault benefits.

  • Certain benefits that an injured driver or passenger may be entitled to under law (workers’ compensation benefits or Social Security Disability benefits, for example) are considered subtracted benefits. The auto insurer is allowed to offset those benefits from No-Fault benefits. Subtracted benefits are intended to prevent an injured motorist or passenger from obtaining a double-recovery for the same expense or loss.
  • Coordinated coverage refers to an option that auto insurers offer drivers. In exchange for a reduction in insurance premiums, the driver agrees to turn to their health insurance coverage first to pay for all medical expenses for treatment of injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident. The no-fault benefits then only fill the gaps in health insurance coverage, including deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, and treatments not covered under your health insurance policy.

Let our car accident lawyers help you navigate these complex situations to make sure you get what you need to recover.

No-Fault Discovery Information Gathering in Michigan

When you have a claim for compensation for injuries and damages suffered in a motor vehicle accident, you may hear your attorney refer to “discovery.” Discovery refers to the process in which attorneys on both sides of a legal case exchange the information they intend to use to prove their respective arguments.

You will likely need to participate in various aspects of discovery, including:

  • Subpoenas – A request for documents, testimony, or other information from someone other than the defendant in your motor vehicle accident case. Subpoenas can be used to gather police accident reports, your medical records and wage information, or your auto insurer’s file on your accident and claim. You may need to provide your attorney with contact information and authorization to obtain some of this information.
  • Interrogatories & requests for production of documents – Interrogatories refer to a document of questions that one party asks the other side in a lawsuit. Your attorney will prepare a list of questions and send it to the other driver or at-fault party or their insurer. You can expect that the other side or insurance company will send you and your attorney a list of interrogatories to answer, too. You will need to help your attorney answer those questions.
  • Expert reports – In many motor vehicle accident cases, you and your attorney may need to hire an expert to help prove some aspect of your case. This may include compensating your doctor or another medical expert to testify about your injuries or hiring an expert to prepare an accident reconstruction to explain what happened in the crash. These experts will often prepare reports that set forth a summary of their findings. Both sides in a legal case may depose experts before they testify at trial.
  • Depositions – This is a recorded sworn interview with a witness. Witnesses that may be deposed in a motor vehicle accident case include your treating physicians, the insurance adjuster, expert witnesses, or eyewitnesses to the accident. You can also expect to be deposed about the accident as well. Your attorney will help prepare you for your deposition. Depositions are on the record, and a written transcript is produced.

What You Need to Know about a No-Fault Deposition

Although the idea of having to testify under oath can seem intimidating, you should remember that you will only be asked about yourself. Some of the topics you may have to answer questions about at your deposition include:

  • Your medical history before your accident
  • What happened in the accident
  • What injuries you suffered
  • The course of your medical treatment following your accident
  • How your injuries have affected your life

Your attorney will help you prepare by asking you many of the questions you can expect to be asked in your deposition. Although it can seem like the other attorney may be trying to trick you in your deposition, you should always remember to answer honestly. If you don’t remember something, it’s perfectly okay to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.”

Try to keep your answers limited to what the question was about; if you are asked a yes or no question, just say yes or no. Let your attorney take care of making a persuasive argument on your behalf.

No-Fault Insurance Law FAQs

Which No-Fault Company Pays?

The insurance company responsible for paying your No-Fault benefits depends on your individual circumstances. If you own an insured vehicle, your own insurance company will pay your No-Fault benefits (even if you weren’t driving at the time of your accident).

If you don’t have an auto insurance policy and are injured in someone’s car, you can be covered by the policy of a relative of your household who does have an auto policy.

If you don’t have your own policy or live with a relative who does, you can be covered by the policy insuring the vehicle you were in at the time of your accident.

If you were a passenger or pedestrian injured by an uninsured vehicle, you may be entitled to seek no-fault benefits from Michigan’s Assigned Claims Facility.

Who Are Excluded Claimants Under No-Fault Laws?

Excluded claimants under the No-Fault system include those persons who have failed to comply with Michigan law in some way. Examples of excluded claimants include:

  • Car thieves, or anyone using a vehicle without the owner’s permission
  • Drivers of their own uninsured vehicles
  • Non-residents who are insured by companies that do not do business in Michigan
  • Persons who are listed as “excluded operators” under their family’s auto insurance policy. A person may be listed as an “excluded operator” if they have a history of accidents or motor vehicle infractions

What Is the No-Fault Law Definition of a Motor Vehicle?

The No-Fault Act defines a “motor vehicle” as “a vehicle, including a trailer, that is operated or designed for operation on a public highway by power other than muscular power and has more than two wheels.” This definition, therefore, excludes motorcycles, mopeds, go-karts, golf carts, bicycles, tricycles, scooters, or rider-propelled toys. State law also excludes off-road vehicles, quadricycles, battery-operated wheelchairs, and unregistered farm equipment.

What Counts as an Accident Under the No-Fault Law?

One motor vehicle being involved in an accident is sufficient to constitute a “motor vehicle accident.” No-Fault benefits are also triggered if for any injury “arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle.”

Therefore, you may recover no-fault benefits for an accident caused by your own medical emergency (although you may only seek benefits for injuries suffered in the crash and not for the medical emergency that triggered the crash), or if you have an accident while maintaining your motor vehicle.

Can an Uninsured Motorist Collect No-Fault Benefits?

An uninsured motorist cannot receive no-fault benefits for an accident involving an uninsured vehicle. If an insurance company is required to pay no-fault benefits for an accident involving an uninsured motorist, the insurance company may be entitled to sue the uninsured motorist for reimbursement of the no-fault benefits that have been paid out and for the costs of recovering those benefits (such as attorney’s fees and court costs). An uninsured motorist who cannot pay the insurance company back may have their driver’s license suspended.

Are Parked Vehicle Accidents Covered By No-Fault?

Under the No-Fault Act, if the only motor vehicle involved in an accident was parked at the time of the accident, no-fault benefits are unavailable. However, No-Fault benefits may be available for accidents involving parked vehicle under circumstances such as:

  • A vehicle that is parked in an unsafe manner and an injury arises due to the unsafely parked vehicle
  • Injuries arising from use of equipment mounted to a parked vehicle
  • Injuries suffered while loading or unloading a parked vehicle
  • Injuries suffered while entering, exiting, or occupying a parked vehicle
  • Injuries suffered if your vehicle hits a parked vehicle

Michigan No-Fault Statute of Limitations

Under Michigan’s statute of limitations for no-fault benefits claims, you have one year from the date of your accident to file a claim with the insurance company to collect benefits. If your insurer begins paying no-fault benefits but then cuts off payment, you have one year from the date of termination of your benefits to file a lawsuit.

If you don’t file your lawsuit on time under the statute of limitations, your insurer can move to have your lawsuit permanently dismissed and you will be responsible for paying the bills. In addition, your medical providers have only one year from the date of treatment to file a claim for compensation for that treatment from your no-fault benefits insurer.

However, if you need to pursue damages from the other party, you have two years to file your car accident lawsuit for damages, per Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.5805. If you’re not sure which deadline applies to your case, our team can help.

Let Our No-Fault Accident Lawyers Help You With a Car Collision Claim

If you have any questions about Michigan’s no-fault laws in relation to your accident, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced personal injury accident attorneys at Christensen Law by calling us or contacting us online. Our team is ready to help you with your case.