What you need to know on the Michigan Mini Tort maximum recovery limit, getting your car fixed and paid for, what do do if you’re in a crash with an uninsured driver, time limits to file a claim
Now that winter is upon us, our attorneys are seeing a sharp increase in questions and phone calls from people who want to know how to repair vehicle damage caused by the snow and ice.
Michigan is unique and different from most other states in that we have a Mini Tort Law that helps to pay for vehicle-damage repairs after a car accident. As insurance law attorneys, we’ve written about this topic many times before and we also have an entire free legal resource center devoted to the Mini Tort on our website.
I thought today I would try to streamline things for folks. It is, after all, a busy and stressful time of year for everyone. I wanted to narrow my discussion today to the top 9 facts that people should know about how the Michigan Mini Tort can help them get their vehicle damage covered:
- What is the Mini Tort?
- How much money in damages can be recovered through the Mini Tort?
- Why can’t I recover more than $1,000 under the Mini Tort?
- What if the at-fault driver is uninsured?
- What if I was uninsured?
- Aren’t drivers supposed to have Mini Tort coverage?
- How do I file a Mini Tort claim in small claims court if the at-fault driver and/or his insurer refuses to pay?
- How do I litigate a Mini Tort claim in small claims court?
- How much time do I have to file Mini Tort lawsuit in small claims court?
What is the Mini Tort?
The Mini Tort law (codified in Michigan’s No Fault Law, MCL 500.3135(3)(e)) allows car accident victims to recover up to $1,000 for repair of vehicle “damages” from the at-fault driver who caused the accident the resulted in the damage. To learn more, please check out (and feel free to share) our helpful infographic.
How much money in damages can be recovered through the Mini Tort?
The maximum recovery is $1,000 for vehicle “damages” repair, only. This means no recovery for a rental car, towing, loss of use, etc. That’s the max. No exceptions. The actual Mini Tort recovery amount (up to $1,000) will be limited to the repair estimate obtained by the owner of the damaged vehicle or, in the case of someone with collision coverage, by the deductible.
Why can’t I recover more than $1,000 under the Mini Tort?
The intention behind the Mini Tort isn’t to pay for all of your vehicle damage. The intention was to cover incidental and out-of-pocket expenses while encouraging Michigan drivers for obtaining collision coverage for their cars and trucks. When a driver has collision coverage, the Mini Tort will help to pay their deductible and, thus, minimize or eliminate the driver’s out-of-pocket costs for vehicle repair expenses.
What if the at-fault driver is uninsured?
Okay, so there is one limited exception to the Mini Tort’s maximum recovery limit of $1,000.
If your car is damaged by an at-fault driver who was not insured at the time of the automobile accident, then the at-fault driver is not protected by the Mini Tort’s $1,000 maximum recovery limit. The uninsured driver can be held personally liable for the full amount of all of your vehicle damage, including reimbursement for rental cars, towing costs and all loss of use costs.
This is a steep penalty for driving uninsured.
What if I was uninsured?
Unfortunately, even if you were completely innocent and driving your own, uninsured car when a negligent driver causes a motor vehicle accident – even when it’s clearly the other driver’s fault, the uninsured status of your car will disqualify you from collecting a Mini Tort recovery for your car’s vehicle damage and repair costs. (MCL 500.3135(4)(e)): Mini Tort “damages shall not be assessed if the damaged motor vehicle was being operated at the time of the damage without” the auto insurance coverage required by the No Fault Law.)
Aren’t all drivers supposed to have Mini Tort law coverage?
No. The only coverages that are specifically required under Michigan’s No Fault Law are:
- Residual liability insurance.
- PIP benefits (also known as “personal protection insurance”).
- Property protection insurance” (PPI).
Mini Tort coverage, also known as “limited property damage coverage,” is optional under Michigan insurance law – just collision, comprehensive, uninsured- and underinsured motorist coverage.
How do I file a Mini Tort claim in small claims court if the at-fault driver and/or his insurer refuses to pay?
If you’re unsuccessful in getting the at-fault driver and/or his car insurance company to pay willingly, then the only option you have left is to sue in small claims court. Here’s a blog post about filing a Mini Tort claim in small claims court.
How do I litigate a Mini Tort claim in small claims court?
Here’s a helpful blog post about litigating a Mini Tort claim in small claims court.
How much time do I have to file Mini Tort lawsuit in small claims court?
Three years: A Mini Tort lawsuit must be filed within three years of any car accident or truck accident that caused the car repairs and vehicle damage for which the Mini Tort recovery is being sought. (MCL 600.5805(10))