No Fault and Auto Accidents

Michigan is a no-fault insurance state.  What does that mean?  It means that to operate a vehicle upon a roadway, one must have at a minimum no-fault insurance covering their personal injury and property damage protection.  It also means that one has lost the right to sue the other individual unless there is a serious injury or death.

First Party claims are those one files against their own insurer for reasonably necessary medical and incidental (such as home modifications for handicap accessibility) expenses for care and treatment, wage loss (for up to 3 years), survivor’s loss in the case of death, and some replacement services (such as common household tasks for up to 3 years).  If an insurer unreasonably denies a claim, recouping attorney fees is possible.

It is not uncommon for an insurer, after years of paying on claim, to send a insured to a medical expert, who then declares the person’s injuries to be cured or no longer tied to the accident.  Then, the insurer may deny further claims.  At that time, the insured can only sue for a breach of contract of actual expenses incurred over a year’s time period.

Third party claims are actions against the at-fault driver who behaved negligently or recklessly.  There are stick limitation on when one may file a third party claim or action.  One must meet a threshold of death, permanent disfigurement, or serious impairment of body function.

The law in this field is quite complex.  For instance, there may be coverage for any accident involving an automobile, even if one is a pedestrian.   There are scenarios when even the pedestrian may have a claim against his auto insurer.

There may or may not be coverage depending upon whether a vehicle was moving, was parked, or was being operated at the time.

It may also seem that the definition of an automobile is a common definition; however, the rules are different if the vehicle is a motorcycle.

There are also important issues regarding priority and coordination of insurance policies.

There are also important issues at play regarding the uninsured and underinsured coverage for those involved.

Whether or not one brings a suit may require one to consider the fact that one’s first party insurer has a right of subrogation and can assert a lien against any judgment one may receive in a third party suit.

The area of no-fault and auto accidents can be very difficult to navigate.  If you or anyone close to you has any questions, please contact one of our attorneys.