Michigan’s No-fault law governs accidents that occur in the state of Michigan or that involve Michigan residents (i.e., Michgan residents injured in out-of-state accidents). Michigan is one of the limited number of states in the U.S. that has such a law.
In 1972, the Michigan Legislature adopted the No-fault Automobile Insurance Act (MCL 500.3101, et seq.). The Act went into effect in October 1973. Since its enactment, Michigan’s no-fault law has encountered numerous, unsuccessful efforts to amend the law to offer less protection to those injured in motor vehicle accidents. The law faced another such effort in 2019. Unfortunately, this attempt was successful, and Michigan’s no-fault law was amended.
Despite the vast, sweeping changes as a result of the 2019 amendments, the law is still one of “no-fault.” This means that motor vehicle accident victims still may be entitled to certain insurance benefits regardless of which driver is at fault. The no-fault law was the result of a “trade-off” with the tort system. In exchange for the right to no-fault benefits, the right of an accident victim to bring a tort liability claim (i.e., automobile negligence claim) against the driver who caused the accident and the injuries is limited. An accident victim may not only bring a tort claim against the at-fault driver where certain delineated thresholds are met.
Those who are injured under Michigan’s no-fault law may have two separate claims:
- No-fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefit Claims; and
- Tort Liability Claims.
No-Fault PIP Benefit Claims
Again, Michigan’s no-fault law provides an auto accident victim with the right to recover certain benefits regardless of who caused the accident. Moreover, such benefits may be paid regardless of whether the accident victim was the driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian. If you have no-fault insurance, you will generally claim no-fault benefits from your own insurer.
Unfortunately, one of the effects of the 2019 amendments to the no-fault law is a reduction in the number of motor vehicle accident victims entitled to claim such benefits. Moreover, there may be monetary caps limiting the dollar amount in no-fault benefits you may receive. This will depend on the applicable no-fault policy or if you have to claim benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP).
Types of No-Fault PIP Benefit Claims
There are four different types of no-fault benefits “PIP” benefits. You may also hear these referred to as “first-party benefits.” They are:
- Allowable expenses (including but not limited to medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, attendant “personal” care, medical mileage, residential home modifications);
- Wage loss benefits, payable for up to three years following the accident;
- Replacement services (also known as “household chores services”), payable for up to three years following the accident;
- Survivor’s loss benefits when an accident results in death. These benefits also are only payable for up to three years following the accident
Tort Liability Claims
As stated, motor vehicle accident victims may still bring tort claims against at-fault drivers under limited circumstances. The compensation that may be recovered includes damages for non-economic (i.e., pain and suffering) as well as excess economic loss (economic loss that exceeds that covered by your no-fault benefits).
In order to bring a tort or third-party claim, an injured person has to show that he or she suffered (1) death; (2) “serious impairment of body function”; or (3) “permanent serious disfigurement.” In the event the injury is death, the personal representative of the decedent’s (i.e., accident victim’s) estate will have to file the tort claim. Such a claim is governed by Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act.
The Attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. Can Help
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, you should not have to pay for someone else’s mistakes.
The Michigan personal injury attorneys at Miller & Tischler, P.C. can help you to fight for the compensation that you deserve in order to get your life back on track. To learn more about Michigan’s auto no-fault law or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!