Michigan is a No-Fault state. What does this mean? Find out here.
I was involved in an automobile, bus, truck, or, motorcycle accident in Michigan. What are my Michigan No-Fault rights?
It is important to note that Michigan is a No-Fault State. Under the Michigan No-Fault Act, if you are involved in an automobile, truck, or bus, accident your insurance company is required to pay most of your economic damages regardless of fault.
If you are injured in an automobile, truck, or bus, accident, you may be entitled to First-Party PIP (personal injury protection) Benefits. These benefits include medical bills, wage loss, attendant care, replacement services, and mileage reimbursement to anyone who suffers an injury arising out of the use, ownership, operation, and/or maintenance of a vehicle. First-Party benefits are available to anyone who suffers an injury arising out of the use, ownership, operation or maintenance of a vehicle.
What should I do if I am involved in an automobile, bus, truck, or motorcycle accident in Michigan?
First, seek proper medical attention. It is important to try to get the vehicle registration information, license plate numbers, and the name and address of all drivers involved. It is important to gather the names and contact information of any bystanders and/or emergency personnel who arrive at the accident scene. Remember to document the events of the accident and any injuries that you have sustained by taking pictures of any of your injuries either in the hospital or when you get home. Finally, do not sign anything or make a statement to other party or an insurance company without consulting a lawyer.
What should I do if an insurance claim adjuster has offered me a settlement?
Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company, not you. Therefore, they are not working in your best interests. A lawyer will serve your best interests and work to obtain the compensation that you are entitled.
What is are “First-Party Benefits” and “Third-Party Benefits?
There are two types of No-Fault claims, “first-party” claims and “third-party claims. Claimants make first-party claims to his/her own no-fault insurance company. Claimants make third-party claims against the negligent or at-fault driver.
In first-party claims, insurers must provide reimbursement for reasonable medical expenses, wage loss, replacement services, mileage, survivor’s loss, funeral expenses, and attendant care.
In third-party claims, the person injured in an auto accident brings suit against the negligent driver. This claim is to recover damages such as his or her past, present, and future non-economic losses and any excess economic losses if applicable. The claimant cannot sue to recover any damages that have already been paid or are owed by the claimant’s first-party insurance policy.
Damages that may be recovered in a negligence causing an auto accident injury are pain and suffering and other economic losses that exceed the statutory no-fault maximum amount. The pain and suffering damages are recoverable provided that the claimant’s injuries meet the threshold requirement of death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of body function. The best way to determine whether a particular injury satisfies the threshold requirements of the Michigan act is to consult attorneys who specialize in auto no-fault cases.
What reimbursements am I entitled to in a first-party claim?
Currently, first-party no-fault medical expenses, wage loss, replacement services, mileage, survivor’s loss, funeral expenses, and attendant care.
Is there a statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for first-party damages?
Yes. Your no-fault insurance company is only required to reimburse you for expenses incurred during the year prior to your claim. You must make a valid written report of your injuries and submit that claim within a year from your accident or risk losing some or all of your no-fault reimbursement benefits. This places your insurance company on notice of your injury and claims. If any benefits are not paid by your insurance company, you must file legal action to recover any amounts not reimbursed within one year of incurring the expense or risk losing the ability to recover them.
There are some exceptions to the above rules. Children/minors and incapacitated persons may be granted extended time to file a claim. A lawyer should be consulted to make sure that all statutory deadlines are met.
Is there a statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for third-party damages?
Yes. An injured person or their survivors have 3 years to file a third-party lawsuit. There are exceptions to this 3-year limit that apply to minors, military personal, and those judged mentally incompetent.
What if I am involved in an automobile accident and it is my fault?
The Michigan No-Fault Act prevents non-economic damages from being recovered if the victim is more than 50% at fault, or if the victim was driving his/her uninsured vehicle at the time of the accident.
What if I was in an accident through no fault of my own and I do not have insurance?
The law requires you to have insurance and there are penalties under the PIP law for failing to have insurance. In effect, you are denied certain, but not all, benefits if you fail to carry the mandated insurance. For instance, the no-fault statute excludes owners of vehicles who violate the law by failing to have insurance from receiving first party benefits. You should contact an attorney to determine what rights may still be available.
Does my No-Fault insurance company have to pay me 100% of my lost wages?
Not necessarily. Usually your employer only has to pay 85% of your lost wages. This amount is free of federal and state taxes. Additionally, Michigan law contains a maximum annual salary that will be eligible for the 85% reimbursement. If you make more money than the amount noted, you may have to bring a Third-Party suit against the negligent driver for any amount that is not reimbursed by your insurance company.
Does the no-fault statute cover motorcycles?
As long as you are covered with first-party benefits on your motorcycle you should be covered. If you do not have first-party coverage, but you do have other liability coverage, and you are involved in an accident with another vehicle that has first-party coverage, you may be covered under their policy. If you do not have first-party coverage and are injured in a motorcycle accident that did not involve another vehicle, you will probably not be able to recover first-party benefits. It is recommended that motorcyclists carry first-party insurance coverage.
Should I have “Uninsured Motorist Coverage”?
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is a type of coverage that may allow you to recover from your own insurance company if the at-fault driver does not have their own insurance coverage or cannot be identified. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is highly recommended.
Does my No-Fault insurance pay my medical bills or does my health insurance company?
This depends on if your no-fault insurance policy has coordinated benefits. Coordinated benefits compliment other types of governmental benefits that may be paid by the laws of any state of the federal government. Any benefit that the state or federal government pays for such things as workers compensation and/or social security disability benefits will reduce the amount that the no-fault insurer will pay, dollar for dollar.
An Uncoordinated no-fault insurance policy may allow recovery of benefits from both of the state and or federal government benefits as well as their uncoordinated no-fault insurance company.
My insurance company called and asked me to give a statement and/or sign medical releases so they can get my medical records?
Do not give a statement either verbal or written without consulting with a lawyer. This may be used against you down the road.
You may have to provide a release of you medical records to your insurance company for them to pay your first-party benefits. By law, they are not required to pay without adequate documentation of your claims. A lawyer should be consulted to help you with this decision.