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Can a rental car company make a Michigan Mini Tort claim?

March 4, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Learn about whether a rental car company can recover under the Mini Tort law after an accident

rental car, image

I recently received an interesting question about when a rental car company can use the Mini Tort to recover for accident-related damage to one of its rental cars., and I wanted to share my answer today.

Q. I had an automobile accident where I collided with a car, which is a rental car. Now, after a month, the rental car agency (Enterprise) is getting back to me stating that I need to pay them $1,000 under Michigan’s Mini Tort law. According to my understanding, the Mini Tort law is not applicable to rental cars. Additionally, there was no police case registered and, after the accident occurred, the driver of the rental car just took a photograph of my insurance and drove away.

A. I’m sorry to hear about your accident, and I hope that neither you nor anyone else was injured. In answer to your question about who can make a claim under Michigan’s Mini Tort Law, yes, there is limitation on the Mini Tort Law that would prevent a rental car company from making a mini tort claim for vehicle damage to one of its rental vehicles.

  • Generally, the Mini Tort Law applies in all cases unless the person with the damaged vehicle has broad-form collision coverage. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind about the Mini Tort Law. First, in order to obtain a recovery under the Mini Tort Law, the person making the Mini Tort claim must prove that the other driver was at-fault in causing the vehicle damage. Given that the police were apparently not involved in your accident, I am assuming that the police never assigned “fault” to you and I am assuming that you were never given a ticket.
  • Second, the person making the Mini Tort claim must prove that the claimed vehicle damage was caused by the motor vehicle accident in question.
  • Third, the person making the Mini Tort claim must prove the specific dollar amount of car damage to the vehicle – and if the dollar amount of car damage is less than $1,000, then they can only recover the specific dollar amount of damage.
  • And, fourth, the person making the Mini Tort claim cannot recover more than $1,000 from the at-fault driver, regardless of how extensive the vehicle damage is. The mini tort is not meant to a substitute for collision coverage in this regard.

Since we’re talking about rental cars, I’m often asked what kind of insurance coverage to purchase when renting a car. Do you need those extra insurance packages that they try to sell you at the rental counter? Here are some other blog posts you may find helpful in this regard:

Do I need to purchase insurance coverage on a rental car?

Top 4 rental car “musts” when at the rental counter

How an accident lawyer chooses a rental car

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