Most Michigan insurance lawyers still don’t file No-Fault lawsuits in the venue of their choice
It’s a simple rule that all too many insurance lawyers tend to forget: you can file No Fault lawsuits (also called personal injury protection (PIP) cases) in any court venue you choose in Michigan.
The mistake is that most No Fault lawyers assume you have to file the PIP (the insurance case for No Fault benefits) in the same venue where you are required to file your third-party auto negligence case (this is the case for pain and suffering against the driver and his/her insurance company who caused the accident). But a No-Fault PIP case is a contract action, not a tort action. As a contact action, it does not have to be filed in the venue where the underlying car accident occurred.
There’s published and unpublished case law in Michigan supporting this. It has been repeatedly held by the Court of Appeals that a No Fault case is a contract action that is subject to the venue statute found at MCL 600.1621. Ferguson v. Pioneer State Mutual Insurance Company of Michigan, 273 Mich App 47, 50-55 (2006); see, also, Shiroka v. Farm Bureau, 276 Mich App 98, 104-109 (2007). The contract venue statute provides that a proper venue is where:
A. the county in which a defendant resides, has place of business, or conducts business or in which the registered office of a defendant corporation is located, is a proper county in which to commence and try an action. MCL 600.1621.
In other words, No Fault insurers do business in every county of the state. Therefore, you could file in a venue you like, or that is more convenient. You can do this for every single one of your No-Fault PIP cases. For example, before we moved to our main office to Farmington Hills from Southfield, I used to file many of my No Fault PIP cases in Southfield District Court, and I would literally walk across the street for hearings and motions. That saved me hours of travel time and allowed me to help many more people (sadly, there’s never a shortage of people being denied auto insurance benefits by claims adjusters in Michigan, a state without bad faith laws, punitive damages, or a consumer protection act to protect people from insurance company abuse).
Another example, Michigan Auto Law has a Sterling Heights law office. It makes much more sense for Sterling Heights auto accident lawyers to file in Macomb County – either circuit court or district court, then to travel to a further venue, such as where someone was injured and has her third-party case.
– Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top No Fault lawyers handling serious auto accident lawsuits. He writes about insurance company abuse and the insurance laws in Michigan, and is available for comment.
Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our No Fault insurance lawyers.