Michigan No-Fault Law: Out-of-State Car Accident Rules

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Michigan No-Fault Law: Out-of-State Car Accident Rules

How Are Michigan Drivers Covered in Crashes that Occur Out-of-State?

If you are a Michigan resident injured in a car accident outside of Michigan, are you still entitled to the same benefits and compensation compared to car or truck accident injuries that occur in Michigan? The answer is probably yes.

This article explores the rights Michigan residents have in obtaining no-fault PIP benefits and pain and suffering compensation for accidents that occur outside the state of Michigan.

Michigan No-Fault Benefits and Out-Of State Accidents to Michigan Residents

Under MCL 500.3111, Michigan residents injured in a car crash outside the state can obtain Michigan no-fault benefits. But there are some ground rules and limitations.

First, under the law the crash must have occurred within the United States, its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, etc.) or Canada. If the crash did not occur in one of those locations, then you are out of luck. For example, a Michigan resident injured in a car crash in Toronto may be able to obtain benefits, while a Michigan resident injured in Mexico cannot.

However, in addition to this geographical requirement, the Michigan resident must also be a (1) name insured on a Michigan auto insurance policy, (2) married to someone who is insured under a Michigan auto insurance policy, or (3) a resident relative of someone insured on a Michigan auto insurance no-fault policy.

If the Michigan resident fails to meet this requirement, then that individual may not collect no-fault benefits. But if the injured person does meet one of those requirements, and the crash occurred in the United States, one of its territories, or Canada, then the injured individual can claim no-fault benefits. In fact, the person is entitled to no-fault PIP benefits regardless of whether he or she was occupying a motor vehicle insured with Michigan no-fault insurance at the time of the crash.

A few examples will illustrate these rules:

  1. A Michigan resident rents a car in Florida and gets involved in a horrible car wreck. This man’s wife maintains a Michigan no-fault policy with State Farm Insurance at the time of the crash. This man is entitled to Michigan no-fault benefits.
  2. A Michigan woman is walking across the street in Toledo, Ohio and gets hit by an Ohio driver who has Ohio car insurance. The Michigan woman maintains a Michigan no-fault policy with Progressive Insurance. Is she entitled to no-fault benefits? Yes.
  3. A Michigan resident is in Texas riding his brother’s motorcycle when a large truck hits him causing severe personal injuries. The large truck was owned and operated by a Texas resident and the brother is also a resident of Texas. The Michigan resident does not own auto insurance but lives with his sister who has no-fault insurance with AAA Insurance. Can the Michigan resident get no-fault benefits? Yes. He was injured in the United States, a motor vehicle was involved in the accident, and he resides with a resident relative (his sister) who maintains a Michigan no-fault policy.

What happens though when the Michigan resident or his or her spouse does not have a Michigan no-fault policy, or does not live with a resident relative with a Michigan no-fault policy? In that case, a Michigan resident may still obtain no-fault benefits so long as the resident was injured while occupying a motor vehicle insured under a Michigan no-fault insurance policy.

In this situation, the injured person cannot be a pedestrian or operating a motorcycle. The Michigan resident must be occupying a car or truck at the time of injury. In addition, that car or truck involved in the car wreck must be insured with Michigan no-fault insurance.

For example, a Michigan resident is injured in California while borrowing his friend’s SUV. The Michigan resident lives alone, doesn’t own a car and so does not have a Michigan no-fault policy. The SUV is a California vehicle with California car insurance. The Michigan resident in this example may not make a claim for Michigan no-fault benefits.

In another example, a Michigan resident is injured in Georgia when the Ford Explorer he is operating is smashed by another car. The Ford Explorer is owned by the Michigan resident’s brother and is insured with Georgia car insurance. However, the Michigan resident’s brother also has a Ford Focus that is plated in Michigan and carries Michigan no-fault insurance. Can the Michigan resident obtain PIP benefits? No. The vehicle involved in the out-of-state accident must be insured with a Michigan no-fault policy.

Pain and Suffering Compensation for Michigan Residents Injured in Out-of-State Accidents

What about obtaining pain and suffering compensation for a Michigan resident injured out-of-state. Can a Michigan resident obtain compensation for pain and suffering? Like anything involving Michigan car accident law, the answer is it depends.

First, the injured plaintiff will have to prove negligence on the part of the out-of-state defendant driver. Most states require the plaintiff to show the other driver was least 50% at-fault for causing the accident. However, this rule differs by state and is not always required.

Next, it depends on who the defendant is and where the defendant resides.

If the defendant happens to also be a Michigan resident, then Michigan law will apply even if the accident occurred in a different state. This means the plaintiff will have to show a threshold injury to obtain pain and suffering compensation. Most threshold injury cases involve showing a “serious impairment of body function”, which entails proving the car accident affected the injured person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life. If the plaintiff does not prove a threshold injury, then he or she cannot obtain pain and suffering compensation.

However, a Michigan plaintiff can recover all economic damages (wage loss and medical bills) from the Michigan defendant that are recoverable in the state the accident occurred.

In most situations though, the defendant will be from the state where the crash occurred. In that situation, the law of that particular state will apply. As we all know, our great nation is made up of 50 different states, all with different rules and statutes.

For example, some states have very short statute of limitations that require a lawsuit be filed within 1 year of the car wreck (Tennessee) while others are longer than Michigan’s 3-year statute of limitations rule (Florida – 4 years). Some states require a threshold injury for the injured person to get pain and suffering compensation, but those states’ threshold requirements are almost universally easier to prove than Michigan’s threshold.

The rules on what types of pain and suffering compensation a person can obtain differs from state to state. Some states allow for punitive damages, while others do not. Some states allow a plaintiff to sue the driver and the owner of the vehicle for damages, while some states do not.

Michigan Car Accident Injury Lawyers

If you or somebody you know was injured in a car or truck wreck, or even a motorcycle accident while traveling outside of Michigan, please give the Michigan car crash lawyers at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg a call. Our dedicated team of Michigan car accident attorneys are standing by to answer your questions about the out-of-state accident.

Call Lee Free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). The phone consultation is free and there is no fee until we win your case.

About the Author:

Eric joined the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C to fight for injury victims throughout Michigan. He has been selected to Super Lawyers and is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40. A graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law, he devotes 100% of his practice to representing victims who have been injured by the negligence of others. He is on the Executive Board for the Michigan Association for Justice.

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