Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of serious personal injury and death in children and young adults, and a leading cause of personal injury and death in other age groups. While I handle all kinds of personal injury claims, the majority of my practice for the last 25 years has involved various aspects of motor vehicle accidents.

Odds are that if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you have already contacted your own insurance company, and may have been contacted by adjustors or investigators for the at fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance companies refer to this process as “controlling the claimant”; that is, trying to keep you from consulting a lawyer while they attempt to settle your claim for as little as possible. The following is intended to assist you in understanding the insurance claims process, and why I strongly suggest that you should consult an experienced professional who represents only your interests before dealing with an insurance adjustor.

In Michigan, your rights as an injured party are largely controlled by the Michigan No Fault Act, which provides accident victims with lifetime “first party” no fault benefits from their own insurance carrier regardless of fault, but limits their ability to sue an at fault driver for their injuries in a “third party” action to situations involving death or serious injury, and limits the ability to collect for vehicle damage to $500.00 not covered by collision coverage.

The Michigan no-fault law is an example of a tort law aimed at helping accident victims receive their medical expenses.  While this is become under fire with the latest attempts at no-fault reform, it’s important to understand the underlying concept of the law to decide if it’s good or bad for our state’s residents.   It is the first thing that accidents victims and their loved ones should look into with the help of a qualified lawyer. The no faults law consists of two main parts namely the first party claim and the third-party claim. The law states that any person involved in a motor accident qualifies for no fault benefits. This rule applies even if the person caused the motor accident. In some cases, the no fault benefits go by the phrase ‘first-party benefits’ or ‘personal injury protection benefits’. Read on to find a complete breakdown of how the first party benefits claim and the third-party benefits claim work.

The first party benefits go to any individual who is involved in a motor accident. The benefits cover economic losses such as reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages as well as cost of nursing. The claims are easy to quantify and are made to the insurance company nearest to the individual in the following arrangement as his or her own cover, a family cover, the driver’s cover or the state. The only disqualification for this rule happens when the claimant who owns the vehicle involved in the accident neglects to purchase insurance for it.  When it comes to the third-party claim, the claimant usually seeks compensation of the negligence of the vehicle operator or owner. In this regard, the plaintiff has to sue the other party for compensation and would have to state clearly the losses incurred that inform the claim for compensation. The no-fault law in Michigan restricts the use of third-party claim to losses that would be classified as death, a significant impairment of body function and/or permanent serious disfigurement.