Anyone who has been injured in a car accident in Michigan needs to understand the different state laws and insurance requirements that could affect any settlement or lawsuit over the accident.
This page provides a guide to the Michigan-specific resources on All-About-Car-Accidents.com, starting with an introduction to Michigan's no-fault car insurance rules. We'll also look at state laws that could affect a car accident lawsuit in Michigan -- if your claim qualifies for exemption from no-fault -- and when it might make sense to get help from an experienced lawyer.
After any car accident in Michigan, the first thing to understand is that the state follows a "no-fault" car insurance system. Under no-fault, regardless of who may be to blame for the accident, anyone who has been injured turns first (and often exclusively) to his or her own car insurance coverage to get compensation for injuries and lost income. Michigan's no-fault rules even cover vehicle damage.
Michigan's no-fault insurance laws prohibits drivers and passengers from suing one another except in a few limited circumstances, such as when the accident caused someone to be killed, or if it resulted in serious impairment of a bodily function, or caused permanent and serious disfigurement to the claimant.
Why does exemption from no-fault matter? For one thing, taking a claim outside of no-fault lets an injured person demand compensation for pain and suffering and other kinds of non-economic damages (these aren't available to a claimant under no-fault). For more information, including a breakdown of the car insurance coverage minimums in the state, check out Michigan Car Insurance Laws.
If your injury claim is serious enough to let you step outside of Michigan's no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the other driver, there are a few state laws that could come into play, starting with the deadline for filing a personal injury case in court. This kind of law is called a "statute of limitations," and every state has one; different deadlines apply to different kinds of cases.
In Michigan, you have three years from the date of the car accident to get your case started -- that means getting the initial complaint and summons filed in Michigan's civil court system. You can find this law codified at Michigan Compiled Laws section 500.3145. The same three-year deadline applies whether the lawsuit is for injuries caused by the car accident, or for vehicle damage.
If you miss the three-year window, the court will probably throw your case out, so it's crucial to pay attention to the statute of limitations as it applies to your claim. Even if you're only making a third party insurance claim against the other driver and you think it's bound to settle outside of court, you always want to keep open the option of filing a lawsuit, if only for leverage during settlement negotiations.
Learn more about Car Accident Laws in Michigan.
Not every car accident case needs to be handled by a lawyer. If you were involved in a minor car accident and you are simply making a claim through your own policy in line with Michigan no-fault car insurance rules, you can probably handle the claim yourself.
But if you've suffered significant injuries and you think your claim meets the Michigan threshold for taking a car accident case outside of no-fault, you might find that there is a lot more at stake. An experienced lawyer can be your best bet when you're trying to prove that your case qualifies for exemption from no-fault, and once it does qualify, your lawyer will protect your rights at every stage of any liability claim or lawsuit you decide to pursue.