If you were involved in an auto accident, you might be suffering from physical trauma and focused on paying the associated medical costs. In addition, the damage done to your vehicle might be significant, causing you to incur large expenses for repairs. Generally, your own insurance company should pay for repairs to your vehicle through collision insurance.
However, you also might be able to obtain a portion of the damages paid by the at-fault driver and their insurance company. A skilled lawyer could help explain how to pursue compensation for property damages in a Michigan car accident claim.
Is Property Damage Covered After a Crash?
Under Michigan Compiled Laws § 500.3101, all drivers that reside in the state are legally required to obtain no-fault auto insurance. Under this coverage, each driver in an accident submits their claim to their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the crash.
Among other elements, this coverage applies to property damage sustained in a car crash in Michigan. Essentially, drivers covered under this insurance can elect up to $1 million in coverage for damages caused to their vehicle, as well as the property of other people—including parked cars, houses, buildings, and fences. However, if an injured motorist is found to be at fault for a crash and has no existing collision insurance, they will not be able to collect any property damage recovery. Essentially, there are three forms of collision insurance available:
- Limited Collision Coverage—An insurance company pays for the repairs in an accident that was less than 50 percent of a claimant’s fault. Here, the claimant has to pay the deductible. Furthermore, in an accident that is more than 50 percent of a claimant’s fault, the insurance company will not pay
- Standard Collision Coverage—An insurance company pays for the repairs, regardless of fault. A claimant pays the deductible
- Broad Collision Coverage—An insurance company pays for the repairs, regardless of who was at fault. A claimant who is more than 50 percent at fault pays a deductible, but a claimant with less than 50 percent fault does not
Depending on the type of insurance they carry, car owners who sustain damages to their vehicle that exceeds the amount listed on their insurance policy might not have many options. If they have elected optional collision coverage, however, they can file a claim under that portion of their policy. Furthermore, they may also be able to file a mini-tort claim against the driver who caused the crash.
Understanding Michigan Mini-Tort Claims
Throughout the state, a driver can be sued for a crash:
- If the defendant caused an accident in which someone is killed or seriously injured
- If the claimant was involved in a collision in Michigan with a non-resident who is an occupant of a motor vehicle not registered in the State, or
- If the injured plaintiff was involved in a crash in another state where lawsuits are permitted
The limited property damage liability provision of the no-fault law—also known as the mini-tort provision—creates another situation in which a driver can be sued. Under this mini-tort law, anyone who is 50 percent or more at fault for a crash and the resulting property damage might be sued for up to $1000 in damages. As a result, drivers—especially those who do not have collision coverage—might be successful in recouping a portion of their property expenses for their vehicle using this mini-tort provision.
These claims are usually brought in a small claims court or in municipal court, where the specific amount a person is being sued for is determined based on their percentage of fault. So, for example, if a claimant is found to be 25 percent at fault, they might still be able to recover 75 percent of the awarded damages. A skilled lawyer could assess the extent of someone’s property damages after a car accident in Michigan.
Call an Attorney to Discuss Compensation for Property Damage in a Michigan Car Crash
When another motorist’s vehicle is damaged in a crash, it is advisable that a person does not offer to pay for any repairs. Such a statement or offer might be admissible in court in the event that the other person files a lawsuit, leaving the accused motorist liable to pay substantial compensation.
Instead, the best way to determine fault is to have both sides tell their stories and to use evidence from the police report, accident reconstruction experts, and witnesses who were not involved in the collision themselves. Furthermore, retaining a skilled attorney might be crucial for an injured motorist to protect their rights and determine if they can obtain compensation for property damage in a Michigan car accident claim. To learn more about your legal rights and options after a crash, call a legal professional at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. today.
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