Michigan Mini-Tort Law

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Michigan Legislature Makes Changes to Mini-Tort Law

The Michigan Legislature recently doubled the mini-tort limits with the passage of House Bill 5362.  Prior to October 1, 2012, the most a motor vehicle owner could obtain for the vehicle damage caused by the at-fault motorist was $500.   This amount was doubled and now one can collect $1,000 from the other driver’ insurance company.

Michigan is a peculiar state when it comes to obtaining compensation for vehicle damage.  Rather than obtaining compensation for vehicle damage from the at-fault driver, each vehicle owner is responsible for insuring his/her own vehicle for vehicle damage in the form of collision coverage.

The Michigan no-fault law does not allow an automobile accident victim to sue the at-fault driver for vehicle damage.  The mini-tort exception provides an exception to this rule and allows an individual to receive reimbursement for the damage caused by the other driver’s negligence.

Like the old law, to obtain this benefit, the motorist cannot be more than 50% at fault for causing the accident.  However, there is one additional change with the new law.  Owners or registrants of an uninsured vehicle will no longer be able to recover mini-tort damages to from the at-fault driver.  MCL § 500.3135(4)(e)).

The jurisdiction over mini-tort claims is the same.  Under the law, a claim for mini-tort damages must be filed in small claims court.

The legislatures increase to $1,000 in mini-tort damages was long overdue.  Given the high cost of insuring Michigan motor vehicles, and thus the low number of motorists who can afford to purchase collision coverage on their vehicles, this change in the law is a benefit to many Michigan drivers.

Still, the $1,000 threshold remains low and frankly some revision in the Michigan no-fault law is needed to ensure vehicle owners whose car is damaged from the negligence of another driver receive full compensation for their loss.