Michigan No-Fault First-Party and Third-Party Claims Lawyers
Michigan enacted its No-Fault Insurance Act in 1973 with two goals in mind: Making Michigan automobile accident victims whole and keeping insurance premiums at reasonable rates. However, the state’s no-fault statutes can be complex and full of provisions that the legislature has not clearly defined. As a result, legal disputes arise over benefits coverage.
The car accident lawyers at Michigan Injury Lawyers have experience litigating first-party and third-party claims under the No-Fault Act. We are skilled negotiators in the mediation of disputes and aggressive advocates in the court room. We work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to secure the most favorable settlement or verdict. If there is no recovery in your case, there is no fee for our services.
Purchasing no-fault insurance is required under Michigan law. A car owner cannot get a license plate without providing proof of carrying basic no-fault coverage.
In exchange for making purchase of coverage mandatory, no-fault insurance provides first-party personal protection (PIP) benefits in which an insured is entitled to medical expenses, wage losses (up to three years), survivor’s losses (in cases of death) and replacement services – regardless of who was at fault.
However, in some circumstances, the insurer may set off or reduce the amount it pays an insured when other coverage is available for the same vehicle accident. These set offs can occur when the insured is entitled to benefits under state and federal programs, such as workers’ compensation or Social Security disability and survivor’s benefits.
In some cases, the insured may choose to coordinate benefits with the auto insurance company and the providers of other health and accident coverage. In exchange for the insured paying a reduced premium, the auto insurance company will offer deductibles and benefits exclusions. Basically, the insured purchases only limited no-fault coverage, which covers benefits that are not otherwise provided by the insured’s other health and accident coverage.
Coordinated coverage, however, can frequently lead to disputes. The no-fault insurance carrier is no longer considered the primary source of benefits when coordinated coverage is bought. That means the insured must look first to his or her other health or accident policies. Frequently, there can be disagreement over which policy is deemed the primary one, especially when an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) health plan is involved.
In addition to PIP benefits, a Michigan car accident victim can also seek benefits through a third-party claim for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. To prevail, the party must show that the other driver was at fault and that they meet the “threshold requirement.”
The threshold requirement has triggered extensive litigation in recent years. The requirement is generally met if the injured person suffered death, permanent serious disfigurement or serious impairment of a body function, which is defined as “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.” A recent Michigan Supreme Court decision clarified that in order to show impairment, a victim does not need to show that the injury altered the “course or trajectory” of the victim’s life.
A car accident victim may raise a third-party claim without meeting the threshold requirement in situations where:
- The victim claims economic losses that exceed the statutory maximums, such as wage losses that extend beyond the three-year period;
- A maximum of $500 for vehicle damage if the damage was an uninsured loss under the minitort provision and the other driver is at fault;
- Full damages (pain and suffering, lost income, medical expenses, funeral costs) if the injury did not arise out of the defendant’s ownership, operation, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle, such as malpractice, premises liability, or product liability claims;
- Full damages (including economic losses) if the defendant is uninsured or operating a motorcycle, which are situations where the defendant is not entitled to protection under the No-Fault Act
- Full damages may also be available if the accident occurs out of state, to the extent allowed under the law of that state.
The damages in a third-party claim are based on comparative fault. This means the vehicle accident victim’s damages can be reduced in proportion to the degree to which the victim’s own negligence contributed to an injury. A person who is determined to be more than 50 percent at fault or who has failed to purchase no-fault insurance at the time of the accident is barred from recovery.
Because No-Fault Act automobile accident claims can be complex, it helps to work with the skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers. We believe in finding solutions for our clients through alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, but we will always be prepared for trial. If there is no recovery in your case, there is no fee for our services.
Call the Michigan Injury Lawyers at 313-438-4357 or contact us online for an evaluation of your claim.
For more information, please visit our No Fault Lawyers page.