Automobile insurance laws in Michigan require the owner of a vehicle to have a
certain amount of liability insurance on the vehicle. M.C.L.
� 500.3009. Liability insurance provides compensation to another person in
the event that you cause an accident and are found to be liable to that person
for damages. The minimum amount of coverage required by law is $20,000. M.C.L.
� 500.3009 (1). You can purchase higher amounts of liability insurance in
order to protect your personal assets against the risk of higher damages being
awarded against you in the event you cause another serious injuries.
When Buchanan & Buchanan, P.L.C. represents a person who is injured in an
accident, one of the first things we do is investigate all possible insurance
coverage that is applicable. There are two categories of auto insurance - first
party coverage and third party coverage. First party coverage covers you and
your property (such as medical expenses, damage to your vehicle and the
insurance company's duty to defend you in the event that you are sued as the
result of your operation of a vehicle, etc.). Third party coverage is for your
responsibility to pay for injury caused to other people (and vice versa),
whether in your vehicle, or another vehicle involved in the accident. The
coverage (and its exclusions) is set forth in your insurance policy. In exchange
for the payment of a premium, the insurance company promises to provide
compensation in the event of certain occurrences. Though a full recitation of
insurance coverages and laws would occupy several large text volumes, the
following is brief synopsis of the most typical types of coverages. Among the
various types of insurance coverage which may apply are the following:
As stated, this type of insurance is required by law.(M.C.L.
� 500.3009.) The liability portion of an insurance policy is specifically
for defending and settling any claims or paying any judgments rendered against
the insured in an automobile negligence claim. If you are injured by the
negligence of a defendant, we will make a claim under the bodily injury
liability coverage of the negligent defendant's insurance policy. Liability
coverage is not health insurance, and it is not designed to pay for your medical
bills as they are incurred. It is designed for a one time settlement or payment
for all of your damages. Liability insurance minimums required by law in
Twenty thousand dollars for bodily injury or death of one person in any one
Fourty thousand dollars for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in one
accident, not exceed the per-person limits above M.C.L.
Ten thousand dollars for injury to or harm to property of others in one accident (M.C.L.
Lawsuits in Michigan must be filed against the negligent driver and may not also
name the insurance carrier as a defendant. In fact, the jury is not allowed to
know that there is insurance coverage available on the defendant. If the jury
renders a verdict in excess of the defendant's liability policy limit, the
defendant is then personally liable out of his or her own assets for the
additional amount. M.C.L.
No-Fault Insurance Coverage
Michigan insurance law provides for "no-fault" automobile insurance. MCL
500.3105. In no-fault insurance, the cost of your medical expenses,
lost wages (ordinarily, awarded in the amount of 85% of your pre-accident gross
wages), and post-accident rehabilitation will ordinarily be paid by your own no-fault
policy, or that of the owner of the car in which you were riding. Any excess
damages, such as lost wages above what the no-fault policy pays, may be
recovered by suing the other driver who caused the accident.
If you choose not to elect collision insurance, your ability to recover for
vehicle damage from the other driver will be limited to $500. MCL
500.3135(3)(e). This is known as Michigan's "mini-tort" law. If you seek
to recover damages, excess lost wages (beyond that covered in no-fault insurance),
or pain and suffering damages, you will need to file a suit against the other
driver. In that case, if you are less than 50% at fault for the accident, you
may be able to recover damages. If you are more than 50% at fault, you will be
unable to recover.
Medical Payments (Med-Pay) Coverage
When purchasing automobile insurance for yourself, you may seek to include
several additional type of coverage other than liability insurance. One of
these types of coverage is called medical payments coverage, which is not
required by Michigan law. M.C.L.
Medical payments coverage is a form of health coverage called by various terms,
including "med-pay","personal injury protection (PIP)", or on occasion "economic
loss protection benefits". This coverage is available to the insured driver (the
individual who holds the policy which includes med-pay coverage) and any
passengers in the insured's vehicle for injuries sustained, regardless of the
fault of the driver. It is important to note that the insurance policy of the
negligent party does not pay med- pay or PIP benefits to an injured plaintiff.
These benefits are limited to the driver or passengers in the insured vehicle,
regardless of fault. The plaintiff looks to his own insurance policy or the
policy on the vehicle in which he was a passenger for med- pay or PIP benefits.
The amount of med-pay benefits which may be paid to any individual is determined
by reference to the policy limit for this particular type of coverage, as stated
in the insurance policy declarations sheet for the person who purchased the
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Benefits:
Two other related types of voluntary coverage you can (and should) purchase are
uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits. These types of coverage protects
you against a negligent defendant who illegally does not have liability
insurance coverage or has minimum coverage that is inadequate to fully
compensate you for your injuries. If you are involved in an accident with an
uninsured but negligent individual, we would make a claim for you under your own
uninsured motorist coverage. Your own insurance carrier would then have to pay
any judgment which may be rendered, up to the limits of the policy which you
If the person who caused the accident has liability insurance, but the policy
limit of his or her liability insurance is less than the uninsured motorist
coverage of your policy, we can make an additional claim under your own policy
for what is called underinsured motorist benefits, in the event that your
damages exceed the limits of the other party�s liability coverage. A
complicated body of case law has evolved dealing with this type of benefit, and
the experience of an attorney familiar with these issues is important in order
to obtain the maximum amount of recovery for you.
Collision coverage is a type of voluntary coverage you can purchase which
provides for the repair or replacement of your own vehicle after an accident,
regardless of whether or not you are at fault. This is different than property
liability insurance coverage discussed above. An innocent victim of an accident
may present a claim for the property damage under his or her own collision
coverage or under the negligent defendant's property damage liability insurance
coverage. Your own collision coverage normally includes a deductible, whereas
property damage liability insurance coverage does not. In an automobile
accident case, after a claim has been paid under collision coverage, the
insurance carrier who paid the claim may proceed against the property damage
liability insurance carrier for the negligent defendant to recover the amount
paid out. This process is called subrogation, and does not affect your recovery.
In all automobile accident cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly
to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable
physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you
or a loved one is a victim of an automobile accident, call Buchanan & Buchanan, P.L.C.
now at (616) 458-2464 or Toll Free: (800) 272-4080 or CLICK
HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of
charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee
basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary
award or recovery of funds. Don�t delay! You may have a valid claim and be
entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before
the statute of limitations expires.