Articles Posted in Michigan No-Fault Law

Not many people know about uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured motorist coverage covers you when you are injured as a result of a driver who did not have insurance, a hit and run driver, or a driver of a stolen car. Uninsured motorist coverage is provided by your own insurance company. The cost of this coverage is usually nominal and should be considered when purchasing auto insurance.

Underinsured motorist coverage allows you to recover from your own insurance company, money to pay for damages incurred from an at-fault driver who does not have enough insurance to cover your damages. Not enough people elect to have this type of coverage, but it is important to consider because these situations are far too common.

Below is an entry from State Representative Howrylak’s newsletter from March 2014 regarding bill HB 4612.

Automobile No-Fault Insurance

I have previously written about proposed changes to Michigan’s automobile no-fault insurance system. The prior version of the bill (HB 4612) did not have support in the House. A new substitute bill has recently been floated. In this newsletter, I will explain some of the similarities and differences between the two proposals. Additionally, I want to express my concerns that these proposals will effectively decimate Michigan’s auto no-fault law and put residents, consumers and motorists at risk.

Last week the Senate rushed SB 248 and 249 through the insurance committee. The bills were voted out of committee and passed by the Senate. These bills significantly affect our current automobile no-fault insurance system, including, most significantly, the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (CAT Fund). The bills have been sent to the House Insurance Committee. Obviously the plan is for these bills to be presented to the House of Representatives for their vote. WE urge you to contact your representative and tell them to VOTE NO on these bills.

Lets start by asking why are any changes needed to the CAT Fund based on the following FACTS:

Although the CAT fund system was devised by the insurance industry, make no mistake – it is the insured drivers in Michigan who always have and continue to fund that system – not the insurance industry. In other words, WE funded the catastrophic claims fund – not the insurance companies.

We previously discussed the dangers of distracted driving. Recently, AAA released another study that suggests that falling asleep while at the wheel is also a more common danger than you might think.

In the study AAA found that 2 out of 5 drivers admitted to having fallen asleep or nodded off while driving. A staggering 26.6% of those questioned in the survey admitted to having been “so sleepy that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open” within the last 30 days. Even scarier, 41% explained that they had “fallen asleep or nodded off” while driving at some point.

The study also looked at accidents that occurred as a result of drowsiness or sleeping. It was estimated that 16.5% of fatal crashes involved a driver that was driving while drowsy. This study suggested a higher percentage than studies done before and suggests to me that this is something where more research is necessary.

As the law stands right now 90% of all slip and falls on another person’s property, commercial, private or otherwise, are not compensable. There is simply no liability. The growing concept known as open and obvious, expands to every hazardous condition that can be seen upon causal inspection, including the presence of ice and snow.

If you slip and fall on ice and snow, regardless of the condition or your injury you will likely have no cause of action. There is no duty by the premises owner to clean up the ice and snow in order to make it safe for public travel. However, there can be some exceptions to this law.
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If you were hit by an underinsured motorist, please note that you are not out of luck!
The plaintiff is allowed to recover from his or her own auto insurance carrier for the damages sustained in an auto accident with an underinsured driver. You will know when the at-fault driver is underinsured when your third party tort damages exceed the at-fault’s insurance policy limits.

A claimant entitled to underinsured motorist coverage insures himself or herself against at-fault drivers who carry only minimal third-party tort insurance coverage which is the statutory minimum $20,000 for one person/ $40,000 for more than one person when causing serious injury or death.

If this is the scenario, you are entitled to claim underinsured motorist coverage with your own auto insurance carrier! Your insurance carrier will then cover the difference between what is recovered from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carrier and the policy limits of the underinsured motorist coverage of which you purchased with your policy.
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The Michigan No-Fault Act mandates insurance coverage as a prerequisite when registering your vehicle. However, many people choose not to insure their vehicle, thus are driving Uninsured. Michigan State Legislature ensures that the victims of a negligent uninsured motorist have a source of recovery for their third-party claims.

Michigan law requires minimum liability insurance coverage of $20,000 for one person and $40,000 for more than one person for bodily injury or death. However, many drivers secure their annual license plates by only paying the minimum amount of an insurance premium and then choose not to renew the next year, of which would cause their policy/coverage to lapse leaving them uninsured.
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The Michigan No Fault law provides that if the motor vehicle involved in an accident is a parked vehicle, the injury will not be viewed as arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle unless one of the following 3 circumstances exists:

1.) The vehicle was parked in a way that caused an unreasonable risk of the injury that occurred.

2.) The injury occurred either as a direct result of physical contact with the equipment permanently mounted on the vehicle or while the equipment was being operated or used, or the injury occurred while property was being lifted onto or lowered from the vehicle in the loading or unloading process. OR
3.) The injury occurred while a person was occupying, entering, or alighting from the vehicle.
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When filing a No-Fault Complaint in Michigan, there are typically two main claims that arise. The injured has No-Fault rights between a claim against the no-fault insurer also known as a First Party Claim, and a claim against the negligent at-fault driver also known as a Third Party Claim.

A First Party Claim derives under contract law by an individual against their no-fault insurance carrier of which they are required to pay no-fault benefits to the claimant. These benefits include payments for medical expenses, wage loss, replacement services, survivor’s loss, medical mileage, or funeral expenses.

A third-party claim is the typical automobile negligence claim. In a third-party claim, a plaintiff sues the driver or owner of a vehicle, that resulted in serious injury. If the driver or owner of the vehicle has no-fault insurance, the injured person may bring a claim against the at-fault driver for noneconomic damages as long as the claimant’s injuries meet the threshold requirement of death, permanent disfigurement, or serious impairment of a body function.

Work Loss Benefits are available to you following missed work due to your motor vehicle accident. Wage loss benefits are provided to replace lost employment income. This requires your first-party insurers to pay work loss benefits in the event of injuries causing disability from employment. The reason for this is to be compensate injured persons for the employment income that would have received if the accident had not occurred.

If you are temporarily unemployed at the time of your motor vehicle accident, work loss benefits are still available to you so long as you can show that you would have returned to work if the injury sustained in the accident had not occurred.

Keep in mind that when a claim is made for wage loss, you will be entitled to at least 85% of your income. Depending on the tax bracket you fall in, there is potential you may even receive 100% of your income! At SMDA, we will try very hard to maximize every dollar you are entitled to, call our office for a free consultation with one of our Auto Accident Attorneys!