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Car Accident FAQ: Do I Sue Driver Or Owner Of Vehicle?

March 9, 2023 by Steven M. Gursten

DO I Sue Driver or Owner of Vehicle?

If you have been injured in a car accident in Michigan, you can sue both the at-fault driver and titled owner of the vehicle that struck you. In many cases, the driver and owner will be the same person. However, when they are not, both can be held legally responsible for your car accident.

Sue the driver or owner or both after a car accident in Michigan?

In Michigan, if the at-fault driver who caused the car accident that resulted in your injuries was both the driver and the owner of the vehicle, then you will be suing both the driver and the owner.

What if the driver and owner are different?

In Michigan, according to the owner liability law, you can sue both the at-fault driver who caused the car accident and the vehicle owner, even if both are different. However, to do so, the owner must have “expressed or implied consent or knowledge” to the at-fault driver to operate their vehicle. (MCL 257.401(1))

You can bring a lawsuit and sue the at-fault driver because it is his or her negligence or carelessness which caused the auto accident and your injuries. In most states this lawsuit will be for pain and suffering compensation and other economic loss damages.

However, you will also be able to bring a car accident lawsuit to sue the owner of the vehicle that the at-fault driver was operating if the owner and driver are different. This is because Michigan’s “owner liability” law provides that “[t]he owner of a motor vehicle is liable for an injury caused by the negligent operation of the motor vehicle whether the negligence consists of a violation of a statute of this state or the ordinary care standard required by common law.” (MCL 257.401(1))

Importantly, the “owner liability” law applies regardless of whether the vehicle was being driven by the owner or someone else who caused the car accident. Many states have similar statutes that also impose liability on a titled owner of a motor vehicle.

However, Michigan’s “owner liability” law will not apply if the motor vehicle was being driven without the owner’s “express or implied consent or knowledge.”

A vehicle owner’s “spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or other immediate member of the family” is presumed to have the owner’s consent to be driving. (MCL 257.401(1))

If I sue the driver or owner after a car accident, what can they be sued for in Michigan?

In Michigan, you can sue for the following if the at-fault driver that injured you and/or the owner of the vehicle the at-fault driver was operating at the time of your car accident: (1) pain and suffering compensation; (2) excess No-Fault medical benefits; (3) excess No-Fault wage loss benefits; and (4) the costs to repair damages to your car.

To file a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation if you’ve been injured, you will need to show that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused your injuries and that you suffered a serious impairment of body function, which is the legal threshold required under Michigan’s auto accident law.

Excess No-Fault medical and wage loss benefits help pay for your car crash-related medical bills and lost wages that are not covered by the limits of the auto insurance No-Fault policy through which you are claiming PIP benefits and/or what is guaranteed to you under the Michigan No-Fault law.

In Michigan, you can also sue for the costs to repair damages to your car by bringing a mini tort claim against the at-fault driver and/or the owner of the at-fault driver who was operating at the time of your car accident. However, the maximum amount that you can recover under the mini tort law is $3,000. (MCL 500.3135(3)(e))

Compensation from the at-fault driver or owner

The amount of pain and suffering compensation and economic damages that you will be able to sue for from the at-fault driver and/or owner after you have been injured in a car accident in Michigan will largely depend on the severity of your injuries, the extent and duration of the impairments these injuries have caused you, and the insurance coverage limits in the liability insurance policies that apply to your crash.

The liability policies – or third-party auto insurance policies – that may come into play in your case could include: (1) the at-fault driver’s own auto liability insurance policy; (2) the liability coverage through the vehicle’s owner’s policy; and/or (3) the liability insurance policy purchased by the at-fault driver’s spouse or a relative who lives with the at-fault driver.

Generally, Michigan law requires all Michigan drivers to carry liability insurance coverage with minimum limits of $250,000 and $500,000. However, the law does permit drivers to purchase liability insurance with lower coverage limits of $50,000 and $100,000. (MCL 500.3101(1); 500.3131(2); 500.3009(1)(a) and (b), (5))

If the vehicle being driven by the at-fault driver who injured you was an Uber or Lyft or a truck or commercial vehicle, then the liability insurance coverage limits may be higher. The at-fault driver and/or the vehicle owner may also have additional liability coverage through an umbrella policy.

Injured in a car accident in Michigan and not sure if you are supposed to sue the driver or owner of the vehicle? Call now!

If you have questions on whether to sue the driver or owner of the vehicle after you have been injured in a car accident in Michigan call now (855) 781-7747 for a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Auto Law is Michigan’s largest and most successful law firm that specializes exclusively in helping people who have been injured in auto accidents.

Our secret? Our car accident attorneys deliberately handle fewer cases than other personal injury law firms.  This allows us to focus more time and attention on our cases.

Unlike other law firms, our auto accident attorneys are never too busy to promptly return phone calls and answer questions. 

We have more than 2,000 5-Star Reviews that reflect this care and attention to detail.

More importantly, this client-focused approach leads to better and faster settlements for our clients. Michigan Auto Law has recovered more million-dollar settlements and trial verdicts for motor vehicle accidents than any other lawyer or law firm in Michigan. We’ve also recovered the highest ever reported truck accident and car accident settlement in the state.

Call now so we can start making a real difference for you.

Car Accident FAQ: Do I Sue Driver Or Owner Of Vehicle?

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