On June 11, 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer enacted a significant new Michigan mini tort law change when she signed Michigan’s new No-Fault insurance law.
The mini tort allows a person whose car has been damaged by another vehicle to collect a portion of that vehicle damage back from the insurance company of the at-fault person who hit them.
Mini tort recoveries are typically used either to pay for vehicle damage repair costs or to pay for drivers’ collision coverage deductibles.
On the “Declarations” page of your auto insurance policy, the mini tort coverage is frequently listed as “limited property damage liability” coverage.
The 2019 Version Of The Michigan Mini Tort Law
Under the current Michigan mini tort law, a car accident victim can use the mini tort to recover “[d]amages up to $1,000.00 to a motor vehicle . . .” from the at-fault driver who caused the accident. (MCL 500.3135(3)(e))
Michigan Mini Tort Law Changes
With Michigan’s new No-Fault law came a significant new change to the Michigan mini tort law. The new maximum dollar amount for a mini tort recovery will be increasing from $1,000 to $3,000.
Specifically, the Michigan mini tort law change provides:
“[T]ort liability arising from the ownership, maintenance, or use within this state of a motor vehicle with respect to which [the auto No-Fault insurance law applies] was in effect is abolished except as to . . . [d]amages . . . up to $3,000.00 to a motor vehicle . . .” (MCL 500.3135(3)(e))
When Does The New $3,000 Michigan Mini Tort Law Change Go Into Effect?
The increase in the mini tort’s maximum recovery limit from $1,000 to $3,000 takes effect on July 2, 2020. The increase applies to all car accidents that result in vehicle damage that happen after July 1, 2020.
Reflecting both the recovery increase and the effective date, here is what the new Michigan mini tort law change provides:
“[T]ort liability arising from the ownership, maintenance, or use within this state of a motor vehicle with respect to which [the auto No-Fault insurance law applies] was in effect is abolished except as to . . . [d]amages up to $1,000.00 to a motor vehicle or, for motor vehicle accidents that occur after July 1, 2020, up to $3,000.00 to a motor vehicle . . .” (MCL 500.3135(3)(e))
What Is Not Changed By The Michigan Mini Tort Law Change?
Aside from the increased recovery amount – and its effective date – which were brought about by the new No-Fault law, there are other elements to a mini tort claim that people should know about when they’re trying to get their vehicle damage repair costs paid after a crash.
Importantly, none of these Michigan mini tort law requirements were changed by the new No-Fault law:
The person seeking to use the mini tort to recover damages to pay for vehicle damage repair costs must prove that the other driver (or another driver) was at-fault in causing the accident that resulted in damage to the person’s vehicle. (MCL 500.3135(3)(e))
- The mini tort recovery only applies “to the extent that the damages are not covered by insurance.” (MCL 500.3135(3)(e)) That means that if a person’s vehicle damage was fully covered by his or her collision coverage and if his or her deductible was waived, then no mini tort claim can be filed. On the other hand, if the damage wasn’t covered by collision coverage and/or the deductible wasn’t waived, then the person whose vehicle was damaged can file a mini tort claim.
- Mini tort damages are assessed on a “comparative fault” basis which means that a person’s mini tort recovery will be reduced by the extent to which he or she was at-fault in causing the accident that resulted in damage to his or her vehicle. For instance, if a person was 100% not at-fault, then there would be no reduction in his or her mini tort recovery. If a person was 25% at-fault, then 25% is the amount by which his or her recovery would be reduced. Significantly, if the person whose vehicle was damaged (i.e., the person who is seeking to file a mini tort claim) was “more than 50% at fault,” then he or she is barred from recovering under the mini tort. (MCL 500.3135(4)(a))
- Uninsured drivers cannot recover under the mini tort. (MCL 500.3135(4)(e)) However, if it is the at-fault driver who was uninsured at the time of the crash, then the person seeking a mini tort recovery is not restricted by the mini tort recovery limit and, thus, can sue for the full value of the vehicle damage as well as other costs such as car rentals and loss of use of the vehicle.
You Don’t Need To Hire An Auto Accident Lawyer To Bring A Mini Tort Claim
You don’t need to hire an auto accident attorney to recover under the mini tort law.
Bringing a claim under the Michigan mini tort law is relatively simple. Here are additional resources on how to file a mini tort claim in Michigan and a free book that tells you everything you need to know to bring a successful mini tort claim.