The Process for Recovering Damages to Your Vehicle in Michigan

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How Do I Recover Damages To My Car After an Auto Accident?

In the state of Michigan, if your automobile sustains damage after being involved in a collision, even one in which you were not at fault, the process for recovering damages is not as straightforward as one might think. The reason for this is that the state of Michigan is covered by what is colloquially known as “no-fault” law.  In layman terms, no-fault law facilitates the recovery of damages which are consequential to the accident.  For more information regarding no fault law in michigan, visit The Clark Law Office homepage.  The most common of these recoverable expenses being medical costs and wages lost during the period of physical recovery subsequent to the accident. Unfortunately, this does not extend to the recovery of monetary damages associated with the repair of your vehicle. The latter holds true even for accidents which you had zero responsibility for and the other driver was entirely to blame. Carrying optional collision coverage is a way to protect oneself from such situations, but such forms of additional protection is costly.

Since the majority of Michigan drivers do not carry this additional collision coverage the only route open to them in recovering damages for automotive repair following an accident rest with provisions laid out within the no-fault law itself. Particularly, the limited property damage liability provisions, also known as the Michigan mini-tort law. This allows for a limited form of recovery for damages associated with automotive repairs resulting from a collision.  Unfortunately, the amount that can be recovered via these provisions is significantly limited. The financial amount that can be recovered is $1000. Also, there are precise conditions which must be met for even that amount to be recovered. The primary condition is being able to demonstrate that the other driver was at least fifty percent culpable for the accident in the first place. Also, if the current insurance policy for your vehicle fully covers the cost of the repairs, then the provision would not even come into play.

Who Do I Have to Sue in Order To Get Paid?

Even when all of the conditions are met, collecting even this limited amount often times requires legal action to be initiated on the affected party’s part. This is so because of the way that the Michigan no-fault law is structured. It does not specifically allow for the recovery of the $1000 liability outlined above. As such, the affected party is, in the majority of cases, forced to sue the party responsible for the accident. Due to the $1000 cap, many times such cases start in small claims court. Legal nuances and other permutations presented by either party of the case on occasion cause the case to be elevated to a higher court.  Having such a case heard in a higher court can carry a larger level of risk for the party suing for damages. This is due to the fact that if the claimant were to lose the case, then they would be responsible for paying for all of the associated court costs of the opposing party. Nevertheless, in situations which the proof of culpability is clearly definable, this method for partial recovery of auto repair damages merits pursuing.  A good way to develop a practical understanding of how this recovery option works is by reviewing an example. Let us suppose that one were involved in an automotive accident that resulted in $600 worth of damages being sustained by your vehicle. The other driver can be proven to have been responsible for causing the accident. After all is said and done, the other driver can be proven to be 75% at fault for the accident. Under this example, one would calculate the recoverable amount for damages by multiplying the amount of the damages ($600) by the percentage of culpability that can be assigned to the other party, in this case 75%. This calculation ($600 X 0.75) would bring us to a total of $450 that would be recoverable.

The overriding caveat of course is that this recoverable amount is capped at $1000. So, if we were to look at a second example. Let us say that the damages this time were $2000 and the other party can be proven to be once again 75% responsible. Even though the formula of multiplying the amount of the damages by the percentage of culpability ($2000 X 0.75) would give us a total of $1500, the amount that you would actually be able to recover in this example would only be $1000. This being attributable to the aforementioned cap placed on the recovery amount.  Obviously, this method for recovering damages is not ideal, however, something is better than nothing. A more pragmatic view might cast it as a fair exchange for having the other benefits associated with no-fault insurance coverage.