Miller & Tischler, P.C. is an acclaimed personal injury law firm with clients throughout the state of Michigan. Our well-credentialed team of high-power attorneys fights vigorously to support the rights of victims severely injured due to the negligence of reckless, impaired, or inattentive drivers. One of the issues that arises much too frequently in our work is the matter of an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) accident. This is a serious problem in Michigan where it is estimated that 21 percent of motorists are uninsured.
Aren’t Motorists Required To Carry Car Insurance?
Michigan law requires that owners or registrants of motor vehicles that are required to be registered in Michigan to insure their vehicles. Unfortunately, a lot of people view laws as suggestions rather than commands in spite of the fact that uninsured motorists are subject to fines, jail time, and the necessity to pay all their own medical costs if they are injured in a car accident.
Negligent, uninsured drivers put their victims (to put it mildly) at a distinct disadvantage. Even worse, those who don’t follow the law in one situation are more likely to disobey it in other situations. So, uninsured motorists tend to have more than their share of collisions. Having an accident with an underinsured driver is also challenging because your claim can only be paid up to the insufficient amount of coverage the other driver has.
UM/UIM Is Designed To Protect Innocent Accident Victims
Because of the above-mentioned risks, drivers in Michigan can purchase UM/UIM insurance to protect them in case they are injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Miller & Tischler recommends that all of our clients purchase a maximum amount of this type of insurance.
The whole purpose of insurance is to prepare for the worst-case scenario. This is what obtaining UM/UIM coverage does. If you have the unfortunate experience of suffering devastating injuries in an accident, you may worry about covering your medical, rehabilitative, and other injury-related expenses. And when you have suffered injuries such as a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or other catastrophic physical harm, your medical costs and other related expenses are likely to be exorbitant. Devastating injuries cause many costs you may not have even considered you would ever need, such as:
- Rehabilitative care
- Work loss
- Childcare or household services
- Long-term nursing care
- Costs involved in making your home accessible
Due to the recent changes in the Michigan no-fault law, your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance may not cover all of your expenses. Having UM/UIM insurance coverage will ensure that excess expenses not covered by your PIP insurance will be covered.
It is also good to know that your UM/UIM coverage (and your no-fault PIP coverage) may also provide coverage for your spouse, children, or other relatives who live in your home, in the event they are the ones injured.
Your First Claim Is To PIP
Michigan is a no-fault state. This means that certain accident-related economic losses are payable regardless of who was at fault for the accident. PIP insurance benefits cover economic losses (i.e., medical bills, rehabilitative expenses, work loss, etc.) as after you are injured in a car accident. Historically, Michigan no-fault PIP insurance coverage provided unlimited, lifetime PIP benefits. Because of this, UM/UIM insurance rarely had to be used to cover excess economic expenses. This has all changed with the recent amendments to Michigan’s no-fault law. Now, insurers are no longer required to offer lifetime, unlimited PIP benefits. Instead, insurers can offer other options that provide caps on the amount of these benefits insurers have to pay. Because of these changes, if you are catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle accident, your PIP will most likely not cover all of your economic expenses. Having UM/UIM insurance coverage to provide for the event that you are injured due to the negligence of an uninsured/underinsured driver is now critical.
If you have had the foresight to purchase UM/UIM accident coverage, you can look to your own insurance to provide you with excess medical costs that were not covered sufficiently by your no-fault PIP coverage. Additionally, UM/UIM coverage will also provide for payment of your non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of consortium (for spouses or children).
Changes to Michigan Law Begin on July 1, 2020
As if the situation relative to UM/UIM Insurance weren’t already complicated enough, the major alterations to Michigan’s auto insurance laws make things even more complicated. Understanding our state’s complex car accident laws is already a difficult task when you’re healthy and alert. Those laws will undoubtedly become even more confusing and indecipherable when you are also facing physical, emotional, and financial trauma.
The changes providing for PIP coverage options are about to become effective July 2, 2020. Therefore, it is imperative that you have our strong, knowledgeable legal professionals representing you both in insurance negotiations and possible litigation.
UM/UIM Coverage Is an Important Tool, but It Doesn’t Work in All Cases
With insurance, as with most other policies and agreements, there are exceptions and exclusions. The following rules/exclusions can be found in most UM/UIM insurance policies:
- Direct physical contact of the vehicles is necessary. In other words, if another driver’s reckless driving forces you off the road into a ditch, no UM claim can be made.
- Driving your car for business purposes doesn’t count. If you are using a vehicle for business purposes, e.g. driving a rideshare vehicle or making deliveries from your car, your UM policy will probably not cover you.
- Driving your employer’s vehicle will also likely let your UM provider off the hook if your employer’s car is uninsured since drivers other than the owner must be relatives or household members in order to be covered.
While these exceptions may seem unfair and/or unreasonable, our skilled UM/UIM accident attorneys will be able to familiarize you with the laws, clarify their legal purposes, and help you navigate the troubling waters that will eventually lead to a just resolution.
Michigan law does not require you to purchase UM/UIM coverage. However, our lawyers, who have been handling cases involving uninsured motorists for years, strongly recommend that you make sure you have such a policy. Though the shield it provides is not all-encompassing, it will provide some important protection for you and your family.
If You’ve Been Seriously Injured in an UM/UIM Accident, Contact Miller & Tischler
Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience and the skill set to handle your case. We will fight long and hard to win you the damages you deserve to compensate you for the harm that has come to you through no fault of your own. Because we know that you are going through one of the most difficult times in your life, we will charge you no fee for your initial consultation and no attorneys’ fees until we bring you damages through a settlement or verdict.