What is Mini-Tort?
Mini-tort is a type of insurance to cover vehicle damage caused by the at-fault driver. The coverage is called limited property damage and is insurance in case you cause property damage to another person’s vehicle.
Under Michigan motor vehicle law, car owners must purchase collision coverage to ensure the damage to their vehicle is repaired following an accident. This is true even if another vehicle caused the vehicle damage. Under the law, the most the at-fault vehicle has to pay is $1,000 for vehicle damage. This is called a mini-tort claim. Collision coverage is optional in Michigan.
Limited property damage, or mini-tort, is not mandatory under Michigan law. However, it is strongly encouraged that motorists have mini-tort coverage in case they cause vehicle damage in a car accident.
When Does Mini-Tort Apply?
Mini-tort coverage usually applies when the not at-fault vehicle does not have broad or limited collision as part of their insurance coverage.
Broad collision is a type of collision coverage. Under broad collision, if you are more than 50% at fault for causing an accident, your insurance company pays the repair work minus a deductible. If you are 50% or less at-fault, the deductible is waived. Under limited collision, if you are 50% or less at fault, your insurance company pays the repair work minus the deductible. If you are more than 50% at fault, your insurance company will not pay for vehicle repairs.
If you do not have any collision coverage, your insurance company will not pay for vehicle repairs. However, you are eligible to receive up to $1,000 from the at-fault driver through a mini-tort claim.
Individuals with collision coverage can still file a mini-tort claim. However, you will only receive up to the amount of the policyholder’s collision deductible.
What If the At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Limited Property Damage or Mini-Tort?
If the at-fault vehicle does not have mini-tort coverage, then you can take the at-fault driver to small claims court and receive up to $1,000. So long as you prove the at-fault driver was at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident, you will likely win. In addition, you can recoup the court costs from the defendant.
Because of the risk of having to pay $1,000 in out-of-pockets costs, as well as court costs, the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. strongly encourages all drivers to purchase mini-tort coverage. The coverage is extremely inexpensive, usually not costing more than $10 for a standard 6-month car insurance policy.
How Do I Settle A Mini-Tort Claim?
Settling a mini-tort claim is easy. First, you need to prove the at-fault driver was indeed at-fault. The police report is usually sufficient. Then you need to show you incurred vehicle damage. A repair estimate or vehicle photos will usually do the trick. Then you need a copy of your declaration page to show the type of collision coverage you have or don’t have. Then simply supply this information to the insurance company for the at-fault driver. Assuming you qualify for mini-tort, within a few weeks you should have a check.
What If I Don’t Have Car Insurance – Can I Still Make A Mini-Tort Claim Then?
In 2012, Michigan law was changed so that owners or registrants of uninsured vehicles were no longer able to recover mini-tort damages to their vehicle from an at-fault driver.
So if you don’t have car insurance on your car, you cannot sue the other driver for the property damage, even if the other driver was at-fault. This is the case even when the at-fault driver was drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs.
Feel free to contact the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) with any questions you may have about mini-tort claims or Michigan car accident law. Our dedicated team of experienced Michigan car crash lawyers are there to assist you and fight for your rights.