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. This no-fault law required drivers to carry unlimited personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which would provide unlimited benefits for medical care and other losses stemming from car accident-related injuries, no matter who was at fault for the crash. This largely eliminated the need for claims or lawsuits against other drivers, except for pain and suffering damages in certain cases.
However, as time passed and medical care became significantly more expensive, insurance companies regularly raised premiums to pass costs on to consumers. To resolve this matter, the legislature updated the no-fault laws in Michigan, and these new provisions went into effect in July 2020. Under the new law, it will be more common for car accident victims to need to file claims or lawsuits against drivers who were responsible for causing accidents.
It is natural for consumers to be confused after long-standing insurance requirements change in our state. The car accident lawyers at Michigan Injury Lawyers have experience litigating first-party and third-party claims under the no-fault laws, and we know how to help clients adapt and take action under the new law.
We are skilled negotiators in the mediation of disputes and aggressive advocates in the courtroom. 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. Contact us today for more information.
Michigan law still requires that you purchase no-fault insurance unless you qualify for a strict exception to opt-out entirely. In exchange for purchasing coverage mandatory, no-fault insurance provides first-party personal protection (PIP) benefits, which entitles an insured to medical expenses, wage losses (up to a certain amount), survivor’s losses (in cases of death), and replacement services—regardless of who was at fault.
Having to only deal with your own insurance company instead of another driver’s insurer might be a relief. However, you might be surprised how many issues can arise between a PIP policyholder and the insurance company.
For example, 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 qualifies for 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.
Mandatory unlimited PIP coverage reduced the need for many car accident lawsuits. Now, however, drivers have options regarding their PIP coverage. You can keep your unlimited coverage, or you can choose a PIP policy with limits of $500,000, $250,000, or even lower if you meet certain criteria. Choosing a limited PIP policy might mean you need to file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver if your medical expenses and other losses that exceed your policy limits.
Even if you have an unlimited PIP policy, a Michigan car accident victim might need to seek benefits through a third-party claim for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. To prevail in this type of claim, 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. An injured person can generally meet the requirement if they 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 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 mini-tort 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 no-fault laws;
- Full damages may also be available if the accident occurs out of state, to the extent allowed under the law of that state.
Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
Because both first-party and third-party 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 to go to trial. If there is no recovery in your case, there is no fee for our services.
Call the Michigan Injury Lawyers at (888) 454-0801 or contact us online for an evaluation of your claim.