If you've recently been involved in an auto accident while traveling through Michigan, you may be wondering about your next steps. If this accident wasn't your fault, you're probably interested in recovering your damages and medical costs from the responsible party. However, Michigan is one of a few states with no-fault insurance laws, which can make the claims process much different than in a state that assesses fault. Read on to learn more about Michigan's no-fault insurance laws and how having an out-of-state insurance policy may impact your ability to make a claim.
What are the differences between fault and no-fault insurance laws?
Most states assess fault to one or more parties following an accident. The company insuring the person (or people) responsible for the accident will pay the medical costs and vehicular damage claims of those not responsible for the accident. If the person responsible was uninsured, the victim's uninsured motorist coverage will likely kick in for expenses incurred. In either case, you're permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit for expenses above and beyond those that were covered by insurance. However, you have no guarantee of actually collecting any money. And if you're from a no-fault state but are involved in an accident while traveling in a "fault" state, the laws of the state in which you were driving will apply to your claim.
If you're involved in a crash in Michigan (or several other states with no-fault insurance laws), each driver's insurance pays his or her own medical expenses and property damage—regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Insurance providers claim that this structure helps discourage frivolous or inflated claims, as each insurance company has an incentive to properly investigate their own client's injuries and damage before paying out on a claim.
These policies are also unusual in that they can cover a lifetime of medical treatment stemming from a crash injury, rather than capping themselves at a certain amount like other states. However, insurance costs in no-fault states tend to be higher than those for a good driver in a fault state.
How do Michigan's no-fault insurance laws impact accident claims?
When you're involved in an accident in Michigan that is a Michigan driver's fault, you'll need to take the normal steps, including calling the police, reporting the accident to your insurance agent, and getting a copy of the police report. Even if you're insured in an at-fault state, because the Michigan driver carried no-fault insurance and the accident took place in a no-fault state, your insurer will pay your costs in accordance with this no-fault law.
In some cases, this can be a good thing; if you've purchased adequate insurance coverage to protect yourself from lawsuit after being involved in an accident, you'll be able to rely on this coverage without the worry of dealing with a potentially uninsured driver.
However, if you were involved in an accident in Michigan after residing there for a brief period of time, you could run into some push-back from your insurance company if it wants to argue that you were a Michigan resident and should have purchased no-fault coverage after obtaining residency. Although it's likely your claims will still be paid, this dispute can slow the process.
Although Michigan's laws don't assess fault when it comes to paying for vehicle damages or medical bills, they do allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This can allow you to recover damages above and beyond your out-of-pocket expenses, including lost wages, damages for emotional stress, or even loss of consortium with your spouse. Combining this with your extensive medical coverage can mean that your financial damage from the accident will be minimal, if present at all.
For more information or assistance, contact companies like Lucky Law Firm.