April 19, 2021

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Michigan Auto Law attorney helps drivers wade through the insurance claim process after a crash

5 min read

Brandon Hewitt is an attorney with Michigan Auto Law, and he said there are three types of car insurance claims after an accident.

Anyone who’s ever been in a car accident knows what a hassle the insurance claim process can be. Brandon Hewitt is an attorney with Michigan Auto Law, and he said there are three types of car insurance claims after an accident:

1. Claim for No-Fault auto insurance benefits: These will pay for your accident-related medical expenses, your lost wages if your injuries prevent you from returning to work, reimburse you for mileage and transportation costs for getting to and from your medical appointments, pay for household replacement services and pay for your attendant care services.

2. Claim for pain and suffering compensation: This allows you to recover compensation for your pain and suffering from the at-fault driver who caused your car accident. It will also allow you to recover excess medical expenses and excess lost wages and other economic damages.

3. Claim for mini tort: This allows you to recover up to $3,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance company (or the at-fault driver, personally, if he or she doesn’t have limited property damage coverage) for your vehicle damage repair costs – that are not already covered by insurance.

Hewitt said drivers don’t necessarily need a lawyer to make a car insurance claim:

1. No-Fault benefits: In general, you do not need to hire a lawyer in order to get the recovery you are legally entitled to if you are making a case for No-Fault reimbursement for medical bills and wage loss

2. Pain and suffering: You will need to hire a lawyer to help you recover pain and suffering compensation and excess medical expenses and excess lost wages against the insurance company of the at-fault, negligent driver who caused the crash.

3. Mini tort: In general, you do not need to hire a lawyer in order to get the recovery you are legally entitled to if you are making a case for a mini tort recovery.

Hewitt talked through the details that drivers need to know about making each of the three types of claims:

Filing an application for No-Fault benefits: The car insurance claim process for recovering No-Fault benefits begins with you filing an application for No-Fault benefits (which is also called your “written notice of injury”) with the responsible car insurance company within one (1) year after the crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))

Failing to file an application for No-Fault benefits: Failure to file an application will result in you forfeiting your legal rights to all No-Fault benefits.

Identifying the responsible car insurance company: (1) If you’re driving your own car, then you will seek benefits from your auto insurance company which is covering your car; (2) If you’re driving someone else’s car or if you’re a passenger, then you will seek benefits from your auto insurance company, the insurance company for your spouse or a relative who lives in your home or from the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan; (3) If you a pedestrian or a bicyclist, then then you will seek benefits from your auto insurance company, the insurance company for your spouse or a relative who lives in your home or from the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan; and (4) If you’re a motorcyclist, you will seek No-Fault benefits from the insurer of the motor vehicle’s owner and/or operator, or from the car insurance company for the motorcyclist operator and/or owner, or the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.

• If your claim for No-Fault benefits is denied by the auto insurance company and your insurer refuses to pay your No-Fault benefits, then you can hire an attorney to file a first-party lawsuit in court for unpaid and overdue No-Fault insurance benefits.

• Your lawsuit against the auto insurance company for unpaid, overdue benefits must be commenced within one (1) year after the most recent medical bill, wage loss, medical mileage, replacement service or attendant service was incurred. (MCL 500.3145(2))

• Negligence: To recover pain and suffering compensation, you will need to show that the at-fault driver was negligent and was 50% or more at-fault.

• Tort threshold: To recover pain and suffering compensation, in particular, you will need to satisfy the No-Fault law’s tort threshold which requires that you show that you have suffered a “serious impairment of body.”

Three years to file: Recovering pain and suffering compensation from the at-fault driver who caused your crash involves filing a case against him or her and the insurance company that issued his or her third-party insurance within three years of the crash.

Policy limits: An important factor that affects how much your settlement will be is the limits on the at-fault driver’s auto insurance liability policy. However, if your compensation exceeds his or her liability coverage, then you may be able to seek recovery from the at-fault driver’s personal assets.

$3,000: You mini tort claim against the at-fault driver for the cost to repair your vehicle damage is limited to a maximum recovery of $3,000 – for damage that is not otherwise covered by insurance.

Fault: You must show that the other driver was at-fault in causing the car accident that resulted in your vehicle damage, which means that the other driver was 50% or more at fault

Your car insurance: You must be able to show that you were properly insured under the No-Fault law at the time of the car accident that resulted in your vehicle damage

• Filing your claim: You will file your claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company. However, if he or she does not have limited property damage coverage (i.e., mini tort coverage), then you will file your claim directly with the at-fault driver.

Small claims court: If either the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company or the at-fault driver refuses to pay your mini tort claim, then you will have to file a mini tort lawsuit in small claims court.

If you need the help of an attorney visit www.MichiganAutoLaw.com.

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