How to get your car damage covered under the Michigan mini tort law
The Michigan “mini tort” law allows auto accident victims to recover up to $1,000 from the at fault driver to cover vehicle damage repair costs.
As an insurance lawyer, I get asked about the mini tort every day, and I can confidently say that no one really likes it. People who have more than $1,000 in car damage but who don’t have collision coverage think it’s terribly unfair that the person who caused the car crash can stick them with thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses for a huge repair bill, and that person is fully protected for paying for all the car damage he or she just caused.
The root of this problem usually exists with the insurance agents who sell No Fault insurance. Many insurance agents don’t do a very good job of explaining why buying additional collision coverage – which is an optional coverage but only costs a few more dollars – is so important. The whole point of collision coverage is to avoid people being trapped like this with large out-of-pocket costs for car damage, when the person who caused the car accident enjoys mini tort immunity.
But the mini tort is still there to help, even if just a little. It allows auto accident victims to recover up to $1,000 of incidental costs toward vehicle damage repair. And, as I wrote above, if it is you causing the car accident, it protects an “at fault” driver to limit his or her financial liability (legal responsibility) for vehicle damage.
How the amount of mini tort you receive is calculated
First, this only applies to people who have No Fault insurance. If you are the owner or registrant of an uninsured vehicle and you’re in a car crash, you are not entitled to the Michigan mini tort.
You are also out of luck. You will be responsible for everything – even if you are completely innocent and the other driver causes the car accident.
Prepare to pay dearly for not having insurance.
But if you do have auto No Fault insurance and you were in an automobile crash, you are eligible to receive the Michigan mini tort. But here I have one more legal caveat (sorry, I am a lawyer, after all). You cannot be more than 50% at fault for causing the automobile accident. And in regards to fault, the mini tort you receive depends on each driver’s percentage of total fault in causing the accident.
For example, if one driver is 25% at fault and the damage to her vehicle is $100, then the most she can recover under the Michigan Mini Tort law is $75.
But if that same driver is more than 50% at fault, then she is disqualified from all mini tort coverage and receives nothing.