Michigan No-Fault Law: Your Top 10 FAQs
September 18, 2017
Michigan no-fault law can be complicated, and in the aftermath of an auto accident, you may be left wondering what to do first in order to protect your rights. We’re here to answer ten of the most-commonly asked questions about Michigan no-fault law and how it affects you after an auto accident.
1. What is no-fault insurance?
If you are in an auto accident, regardless of whether or not you are at fault, Michigan no-fault benefits will cover:
Lifetime medical expenses for accident-related injuries
Wage loss benefits for up to three years from the date of the accident (paid at 85% of what you would have earned - which has a tendency to be a little tricky)
Attendant care - either through an agency, or family or friends can be paid to help provide care for you while you're injured
Household services or help with household chores (family or friends can be paid up to $20 per day for these services if needed)
2. Why does no-fault insurance exist?
When the no fault law went into effect in the early 1970s, the rationale behind it was that insurance carriers would provide prompt payment for accident-related claims. This was supposed to save individuals from having to go to court in order to resolve claims. However, over time, insurance companies have taken advantage of injured victims and refused to pay benefits, resulting in the growing need for individuals to hire attorneys following an accident.
3. Who is covered under my no-fault insurance policy?
The answer to this is quite complex because of the way the law is set up. However, most importantly, you and your family members living in your home will be covered under your own policy in almost all scenarios. Depending on how an accident occurs, other injured people may also be covered under your policy.
4. What does no-fault insurance NOT cover?
Pain and suffering cannot be claimed on your own no-fault insurance unless you have specific coverage, under certain circumstances. You may only pursue pain and suffering against the at-fault party’s insurance if your injuries meet certain requirements of severity. Every circumstance is different, which is why you should consult a personal injury attorney you can trust as soon as possible after your accident.
5. Is my motorcycle covered under Michigan’s no-fault law?
Motorcycles are generally excluded from no-fault, because having only two wheels, they do not qualify as motor vehicles under Michigan’s no-fault law. However, there are other ways that a motorcyclist injured in an auto accident can collect benefits (see 7 below). If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, contact an attorney specializing in motorcycle accident cases to advise you.
6. Under what circumstances can I make a no-fault insurance claim?
Here are the requirements that must be met in order to make a no-fault benefits claim:
You or a family member living in your household received an accidental bodily injury
A motor vehicle was involved in the accident
The motor vehicle was being used as a motor vehicle when the accident occurred. (For example, if you severely burn yourself while cooking in the kitchen of your parked mobile home, you cannot claim no-fault benefits.)
You are not driving your own uninsured vehicle
There is a sufficient connection between the motor vehicle and the injury
7. What if the other driver is at fault?
No matter who is at fault, you must file a claim with your own insurance company. However, there are some exceptions to this rule:
Commercial vehicles transporting passengers. Examples include public buses, school buses, some taxicabs, buses serving nonprofit organizations, or buses with particular purposes where they transport passengers to and from a destination.
Company vehicles. In most cases, claims would be filed with your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance and the automobile insurance company of the company vehicle.
Motorcycles. If you are struck while riding, in many cases the claim will be filed with the insurer of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle involved in the accident. However, there are even exceptions to this exception. An attorney specializing in motorcycle accidents will help you understand your rights in your specific case.
No insurance. If you are riding a bike, walking, or are a vehicle passenger during an accident and you are uninsured, you may still be entitled to no-fault benefits. You should seek out an attorney right away when this happens.
8. What can happen to Michigan drivers who do not have auto insurance?
Basic no-fault insurance is required by law in Michigan. If you cause an auto accident and are uninsured, the ramifications could be financially devastating. In addition to fines and potentially having your license revoked, if the other party’s injuries are severe enough that you can be sued, you’ll be personally responsible to pay any judgments against you in addition to attorney and court fees, should the case go to trial.
If you are injured in an accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, as an uninsured driver, you may be limited on what you can recover financially. Michigan is a “No Pay, No Play” state, meaning, if you are not taking responsibility for maintaining proper auto insurance, you should not be able to collect on someone else’s insurance policy, even if you are injured due to their negligence.
9. What should I do after a car accident?
Once you are through the immediate aftermath of an accident, follow these three important steps:
If police were not called to the scene, file a police report and contact Whiting Law as soon as you possibly can.
Whiting Law can help you file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.
Pay attention to any signs of injuries and report them. Symptoms may not show up right away, or there may be layers of injuries (where more severe injuries are hiding more obscure ones). You will need medical verification of all injuries in order to file a personal injury claim, which can be filed up to three years following an accident.
10. Should I automatically call an attorney after a car accident?
For a number of reasons, it is truly in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been injured in an auto accident. Your attorney should help you understand any limitations in your own insurance, as well as the circumstances under which you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party if warranted.
This is important: Sometimes the severity of injuries is not immediately apparent, and may not be for days or even weeks. In order to protect your rights, under no circumstances should you provide any statements to the other party’s insurance company or sign any releases before consulting with a personal injury attorney who specializes in Michigan no-fault law.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, don’t proceed on your own. Contact the attorneys at Whiting Law. Every personal injury case is different, and we will help you determine, understand, and proceed with the next right steps to protect your legal rights, your health, and your livelihood.