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If someone else is at fault in an accident and they have insurance – but I don’t – can I sue?

August 27, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

This past week I was interviewed by a reporter from the Al Jazeera cable news network about the insurance crisis in Detroit, where more than 50% of drivers are uninsured because they cannot afford to pay for their premiums, which are among the highest in the nation.

Then I received this question from a woman who was in a car accident with an insured driver, but did not have Michigan No Fault insurance for herself. I hope my answer helps explain just how dangerous it is to drive without auto insurance, as well as the extreme risks involved.

Q. Someone ran a red light and hit my car as I was driving on a green light. She has insurance but I don’t. My car is in my name.

A. Thank you for your question. I’m sorry to hear about your accident and I hope you’re not seriously injured.

The bad news is that your question is an example of how dangerous it is to drive without auto insurance in Michigan. Even if you’re in a car accident caused by another negligent driver, you basically have no legal rights due to the way the auto law is written in Michigan.

Let’s start with first party, also known as No Fault Personal Injury Protection, benefits. If you are the owner and operator (you have to be both) of the car involved in the crash, you cannot receive No Fault benefits (which include reimbursement of medical care, lost wages and help around the house).

What surprises most people is that if you are uninsured, even if you are completely innocent and very seriously injured, you also can’t sue the driver who caused your motor vehicle accident for your injuries and pain and suffering under Michigan law.

And because you do not have Michigan No Fault auto insurance, you cannot even get any money for your car damage, or bring a mini tort claim against the at-fault driver or his insurance company.

Adding insult to injury, you will be responsible for reimbursing the other person’s insurance company if any No Fault benefits are paid to the other driver – even though he caused the crash!

For more information, here’s a blog post I wrote on the 9 risks of driving uninsured.

Please, protect yourself now by purchasing a No Fault insurance policy for yourself. If you’re shopping for insurance and not sure what type and limits to buy, check out our resource center on buying car insurance. If anything, please make sure you purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, so as to protect yourself in a car accident with a driver who does not have car insurance or adequate policy limits.

Thank you for reaching out and please be safe.

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