This is what you need to know about how the car insurance claim process works after an accident. Generally, there are three potential claims that a crash victim may have. One is for No-Fault insurance benefits. The second is for your injuries and your pain and suffering compensation if you were injured in the crash. The third is for a mini tort recovery to pay for vehicle repair costs.
Depending on the type of car insurance claim you are making, the process and the legal requirements will be different for each one. In general, you do not need to hire a lawyer in order to get the recovery you are legally entitled to if you are making a case for No-Fault reimbursement for medical bills and wage loss or if you are making a case for a mini tort recovery. You will need to hire a lawyer to help you recover against the insurance company of the at-fault, negligent driver who caused the crash.
Each type of car insurance claim has a different process that is unique to that specific type of insurance claim, and you must follow the process for your type of claim in order to be successful. Failure to follow the process can result in benefits being denied or even barred completely under time limitations specific to each type of claim.
There is also a potential case for what is called wrongful death damages if a family member or loved one has been killed as a result of a crash. Finally, if you were injured by a driver without auto insurance or with inadequate coverage, then you may be able to file with your own insurance company for uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage.
Car insurance claim process for No-Fault benefits
The car insurance claim process for recovering No-Fault benefits begins with you filing an application for No-Fault benefits (which is also called your “written notice of injury”) with the responsible auto insurance company within one (1) year after the crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))
Failure to file an application will result in you forfeiting your legal rights to all No-Fault benefits.
No-Fault PIP benefits provide a crucial financial lifeline for crash victims. They pay for your crash-related medical expenses, lost wages if your injuries have disabled you from working, household replacement services, attendant care benefits and reimbursement for mileage and transportation costs associated with traveling to and from your medical appointments.
The No-Fault law’s “priority rules” determine what auto insurance company is responsible for paying your No-Fault benefits after a crash. Generally, your own auto insurance company or that of your spouse or a relative who lives in your home will pay. When No-Fault coverage is not available through any of those sources, you would apply for No-Fault benefits with the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. (MCL 500.3114(1) and (4))
Car insurance claim process for pain and suffering compensation
You will want to talk with your lawyer about the car insurance claim process for recovering pain and suffering compensation. This may also allow you to recover for excess medical bills and lost wages as well as other economic damages.
Recovering pain and suffering compensation from the at-fault driver who caused your crash involves filing a case against him or her and the insurance company that issued his or her third-party insurance within three years of the crash. (MCL 600.5805(2))
To recover pain and suffering compensation, in particular, you will need to satisfy the No-Fault law’s tort threshold which requires that you show that you have suffered a “serious impairment of body.”
Car insurance claim process for wrongful death damages
The car insurance claim process for seeking wrongful death damages after you have lost a loved one in a crash involves filing a case against the at-fault driver or drivers who caused the crash that took your loved one’s life.
The claim can only be brought by the personal representative of your loved one’s estate, but the people who are entitled to recover under the wrongful death act include: (1) the deceased’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters; (2) children of the deceased’s spouse; (3) “devisees” under the deceased’s will.
A wrongful death lawsuit allows the deceased’s family and dependents to recover damages for medical and funeral expenses, compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering and damages for loss of the victim’s financial support, society and companionship. (MCL 600.2922(6))
Process for UM and UIM benefits
The car insurance claim process for uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage benefits involves filing with your own auto insurance company, assuming that you have purchased UM and UIM insurance.
These are filed when you are involved in a crash caused by an at-fault driver who was either driving without insurance or without enough liability coverage to pay for your pain and suffering compensation as well as excess medical and wage loss benefits and other economic damages.
It is important to talk with your lawyer about the UM/UIM case process because the requirements and filing deadlines differ from insurer to insurer. Unlike No-Fault auto insurance whose terms are set by law, insurance companies get to make up their own rules for UM/UIM coverage.
Process for vehicle damage repair costs
The car insurance claim process for vehicle damage repair costs may involve filing under your collision coverage policy or filing a mini tort claim against the at-fault driver and/or his or her auto insurance company.
To make a successful mini tort case, you will need to show that the other driver was at-fault in causing the crash that damaged your vehicle, that you were insured at the time, that the damages to your vehicle were not covered by insurance and that your vehicle damage does not exceed $3,000.
If the at-fault driver has mini tort insurance, you will file with his or her insurer under his or her limited property damage coverage. Otherwise you will file directly with the at-fault driver. If your mini tort case is denied by the insurer or the driver, you may file a lawsuit in small claims court.
Need help? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law
If you have been injured in a crash and would like to speak with an experienced lawyer, call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced attorney by emailing [email protected] or you can use the chat feature on our website.