Getting into a car or truck accident is a frustrating experience. Under the Michigan no-fault law, a driver involved in a car accident can receive limited compensation from the at-fault driver for damage caused to his or her vehicle, assuming he or she is less than 50% at-fault and meets other criteria. This type of claim is called a mini-tort claim.
Basics of Michigan Mini-Tort
The mini-tort provision of the Michigan no-fault law allows a person to sue an at-fault motorist for up to $1,000 for vehicle damage when damage is not fully covered by the driver’s insurance. Applicable conditions and requirements for a mini-tort claim are as follows:
- The other driver must be determined to be 50% or more at-fault for the accident.
- Your vehicle must have Michigan no-fault insurance.
- The identity of the negligent driver must be known.
- Damages must not be covered by your own insurance company. In short, the at-fault driver must pay your deductible, up to $1,000. For example, if you don’t have collision coverage on your vehicle, or if the vehicle has collision coverage that would require you to pay a deductible, you may bring a mini-tort suit against the at-fault driver.
How Is Compensation Determined?
The amount of compensation you can receive for the damage to your car depends on the amount of damage, your deductible amount, and who was at-fault for causing the collision.
An accident victim can receive up to $1,000 for vehicle damage from the driver who caused the crash. The insurance company of the at-fault driver would not have to pay for vehicle damage beyond the $1,000 maximum under any circumstances. The level at which you are at-fault for the accident will impact the amount of compensation you can recover. For example, if another driver was 90% at-fault for causing $1,000 in damage to your vehicle, their insurance company would have to pay $900 for damage to your vehicle. Because you are 10% at-fault for causing the accident, you would be responsible for the remaining $100.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company does not have to pay an amount greater than $1,000, even if his or her apportionment of damages amounts to a higher dollar amount. Any amount of damage the $1,000 maximum would be the motorist’s responsibility, which can be covered through the purchase of optional collision coverage. In Michigan, you have 3 years from the date of the car accident to file a mini-tort lawsuit.
What If the At-Fault Driver is Uninsured?
If the at-fault driver is uninsured, then the accident victim is not bound by the $1,000 limitation and can seek recovery for the full cost of vehicle damage from the uninsured driver.
In this case, the claim must be filed in small claims court, and legal representation is not allowed for damages of less than $3,000. For damages from $3,000 to $25,000, the claim may be filed in district court with legal representation. For any damage claim of $25,000 or more, the claim must be filed in circuit court.
Mini-Tort Common Question Topics
Mini-Tort and Injuries
Many clients ask if mini-tort claims can be made for injuries. Under Michigan law, mini-tort only covers damage to motor vehicles and does not cover injuries. That said, if you or a loved one are injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries via a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Mini-Tort and Motorcycles
Another common question that arises has to do with the application of mini-tort law to accidents involving motorcycles. Unfortunately, mini-tort only applies to damage to motor vehicles, and under the Michigan no-fault law, motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles. This is a quirk to the law that many individualsi miss when exploring their options for recovery of costs. If the motorcycle owner has collision coverage, a collision claim can be made with the motorcycle owner’s insurance company.
Contact Us Now About Your Mini-Tort Case
Working with insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve can be frustrating and confusing, especially when you may be dealing with multiple options for recovery. We have a long history of winning cases and significant financial compensation for our clients. Please call Lee Free and speak to our mini-tort attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your mini-tort case.