Michigan Mini Tort FAQs
Who pays for your car damage after an auto accident? Our auto accident lawyers can help.
If your car was damaged in an auto accident, please take the time to look over the following questions about the Michigan mini tort law that our insurance lawyers frequently hear from clients. If you’d like to contact an auto accident lawyer from Michigan Auto Law immediately, please fill out our contact form with absolutely no fee or obligation, or call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation.
- What is a mini tort claim?
- What if I was injured in the car accident?
- Who pays for my vehicle damage after a car accident under the law?
- But what if the claim doesn’t pay all of my car damage?
- If I caused the car accident, what protection do I receive under Michigan mini tort law?
- How does the Michigan mini tort work?
- What is standard/basic collision coverage?
- I have broad collision coverage. Do I have a Michigan mini tort claim?
- How does a deductible affect my Michigan mini tort claim?
- How do medical and other deductibles affect my claim?
- What if the driver who caused my car accident is not the vehicle’s owner?
- How long do I have to file a Michigan mini tort claim?
- What happens if the person who caused my car accident refuses to pay my claim?
- What if the driver that caused my car accident was in a vehicle owned by a corporation?
- Who pays my vehicle damage if I was driving a rental car?
- Does a motorcycle qualify under the law?
- How do I collect my money?
What is a mini tort claim?
A mini tort claim in Michigan is an auto accident victim’s right to recover a maximum of $1,000 for vehicle damage from the at-fault driver who caused the crash – either through his or her automobile insurance company or from him or her personally.
Importantly, for car accidents that occur after July 1, 2020, the maximum recovery amount will increase from $1,000 to $3,000. Learn more about the Michigan mini tort law change that will happen on July 2, 2020.
What if I was injured in the car accident?
The Michigan mini tort law only covers vehicle damage. If you were injured, please visit our No-Fault lawyers resource center to read more about what benefits you’re entitled to from your first- and third-party auto accident cases.
Who pays for my vehicle damage after a car accident under the law?
Assuming the person who caused the accident has auto insurance, they would be responsible for a maximum of $1,000 toward vehicle damage resulting from the accident. However, for crashes that occur after July 1, 2020, the at-fault driver would be responsible for damages up to a maximum of $3,000.
But what if the claim doesn’t pay all of my car damage?
The law is not designed to pay for all of your vehicle damage. The purpose is to compensate a person involved in a car accident that was not at-fault for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the collision. The law is premised upon people being free to purchase their own collision coverage. If an individual has existing collision coverage, the full vehicle repair costs from the accident will be paid from that policy. However, even if someone has collision coverage, he can still make a claim for incidental, out-of-pocket expenses such as a deductible. Again, the maximum amount recoverable from a claim is limited to $1,000.
If I caused the car accident, what protection do I receive under Michigan mini tort law?
If you have No-Fault insurance coverage, the law will limit your personal liability to $1,000 for vehicle damage you have caused in a car accident that is your fault. However, the amount of your maximum personal liability will increase to $3,000 for car accidents occurring after July 1, 2020.
In other words, the law protects you from vehicle damage claims that are more than $1,000 (or more than $3,000 for accidents after July 1, 2020). If the vehicle damage is far more extensive, the person whose vehicle you struck will have no choice but to turn to their own insurance company to pay the excess vehicle repair costs — assuming that person carries collision coverage on her No-Fault auto insurance policy.
On the other hand, if you are one of the tens of thousands of people driving without automobile insurance and you caused an automobile accident, the Michigan mini tort law will not shield you from personal liability. In fact, you will be responsible for all of the vehicle damage you caused.
How does the Michigan mini tort work?
Under the law, victims of car accidents can recover a maximum of $1,000 for vehicle damage from the driver who caused the crash. However, the maximum recovery amount will increase from $1,000 to $3,000 for car accidents occurring after July 1, 2020.
The driver who caused the accident, assuming he has No-Fault insurance, is protected beyond the first $1,000 of vehicle damage (or the first $3,000 for crashes after July 1, 2020).
How much you can recover from a claim depends on your percentage of fault in the car accident. For example, let’s say the car damage amounts to only $100 and the other driver is deemed 75 percent responsible for causing the accident. That driver would pay $75 under the law. You would be responsible for the remaining $25 because you would be 25 percent at-fault. Keep in mind that in most car accidents, one person is usually 100 percent at-fault.
What is standard/basic collision coverage?
There are two types of collision coverage in Michigan: standard (basic) or broad collision. If you have standard/basic collision coverage, you will have to pay your collision deductible whether you caused the car accident or not. If your car was totaled in the car accident, your insurance company will usually pay you the value of your car — less the deductible amount listed in your insurance policy.
I have broad collision coverage. Do I have a Michigan mini tort claim?
If you have broad collision and you are less than 50 percent at-fault for causing a car accident, your own auto insurance company will waive your deductible. Broad collision insurance coverage is slightly more expensive than standard/basic collision insurance coverage. Because you will not have out-of-pocket expenses with broad collision in the event of a car accident, you will not have a Michigan mini tort claim.
How does a deductible affect my Michigan mini-tort claim?
Insurance deductible amounts vary. Here are a few examples:
- You can carry the relatively common $1,000 standard collision deductible, which you will have to pay whether or not you are at-fault for an accident.
- Under the Michigan mini tort law, you will only be able to recover $1,000 for your car damage. However, for car accidents occurring after July 1, 2020, drivers will be able to recover a maximum of $3,000 under the law.
- You can carry a deductible that is equal to or less than the Michigan mini tort cap, in which case you will not pay for anything out of pocket, and you will not face personal liability or exposure for vehicle damage in the event of a car accident.
- For deductibles less than the maximum recovery amount, your claim will be limited to the lower deductible amount, since that is your actual out-of-pocket expense. If your vehicle damage is less than your deductible, you can only claim the lesser of the two amounts.
How do medical and other deductibles affect my mini tort claim?
Many people also have medical deductibles in their personal injury protection (PIP) No-Fault auto insurance policies. For example, a $300 per person medical deductible is fairly common. This means you must pay the first $300 of medical expenses incurred after your car accident and before you can turn to your No-Fault insurance company to begin paying additional medical expenses.
There is no provision under the Michigan mini tort law that allows you to recover reimbursement for medical deductibles from the person who caused your auto accident. Similarly, medical deductibles from a health insurance plan are not a part of a Michigan mini tort claim.
In addition to medical deductibles, some insurance companies, such as Farm Bureau, now offer a deductible for wage loss PIP benefits at a reduced premium. Again, this is not covered under the Michigan mini tort claim and cannot be recovered from the person who caused the automobile accident.
What if the driver who caused my car accident is not the vehicle’s owner?
When the driver who causes a car accident is not the vehicle’s owner, and the driver and owner have different auto insurance companies, you should first make a claim with the insurance company of the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident. That insurance company is primarily responsible for the claim according to the No-Fault law.
If the owner of the vehicle does not have No-Fault insurance, then proceed with the auto insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. Keep in mind, the owner of the vehicle does not escape responsibility for not carrying mandatory No-Fault insurance. The auto insurance company of the driver who caused the accident can turn to the vehicle owner for reimbursement of his or her claim, either in court or by sending the owner to collections.
How long do I have to file a Michigan mini tort claim?
You have three (3) years from the date of the car accident to file a mini tort lawsuit or collect your mini tort claim. After three years, your claim will be time-barred and you will be unable to collect your mini tort claim under the law.
What happens if the person who caused my car accident refuses to pay my mini tort claim?
If the wrongdoer’s auto insurance company does not cover the mini tort claim, or has refused to pay you, it is usually because the other driver has reported that the auto accident was caused by you and is your fault. If this happens, you can contact the owner of the vehicle and request he pay you directly, or you can file a mini tort claim in small claims court. These courts have limited jurisdiction. However, if the owner of the car that caused the auto accident is not insured, then he is responsible for the full amount of vehicle damage, and the mini tort maximum recovery cap does not apply. If your vehicle damage exceeds $6,000, you must remove your claim and file a lawsuit in district court. (Between January 1, 2018 and January 1, 2021, the “jurisdiction of the small claims division shall be confined to cases for the recovery of money in which the amount claimed does not exceed” $6,000. MCL 600.8401(c))
What if the driver that caused my car accident was in a vehicle owned by a corporation?
If the driver that caused the accident was in a vehicle owned by a corporation, then by law, that corporation must be represented by a lawyer and any lawsuit filed in small claims court against a corporation would be automatically moved to district court. Unfortunately, this will likely result in additional expense and frustration.
However, you may be able to avoid district court and still file a lawsuit in small claims court. Our auto accident attorneys recommend filing in small claims court against the driver only. Or you can file in district court, and hire an insurance lawyer to represent you. Another option is filing a letter with insurance commissioner at the address below, explaining that it is cost prohibitive for you to file a lawsuit in district court against a corporation in order to collect your Michigan mini tort claim.
The insurance commissioner can be contacted at:
Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services
P.O. Box 30220
Lansing, MI 48909-7720
Who pays my vehicle damage if I was driving a rental car?
Rental car expenses are not considered to be personal out-of-pocket expenses for purposes of Michigan’s insurance law. Therefore, you will be responsible for vehicle damage to a rental car even if another driver causes the car crash. This is assuming you did not purchase optional rental car collision coverage, and you do not already have optional rental car coverage with your own auto insurance policy. Without either rental car collision coverage or optional rental car coverage in your own policy, you will be unable to recover the money for vehicle repairs. If you do have rental car coverage, but the daily allowance is less than the cost of a car rental, you will not be able to recover the difference.
Does a motorcycle qualify under the law?
Unfortunately, if you were involved in a motorcycle accident, you must pay for the damage to the motorcycle. That’s because a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” under Michigan’s No-Fault insurance law. Therefore, it does not qualify for a claim.
However, there is an exception: If the motorcycle is parked, it’s considered “property” and a claim can be made against the person who caused the damage under his or her property protection insurance (PPI). If the motorcycle owner has motorcycle collision coverage, a claim can also be made with the owner’s own insurance company. Remember, if you are making a claim against someone’s property protection insurance, you have only one (1) year from the date of the accident to collect the damage or file a lawsuit.
How do I collect my money?
To obtain the money for your Michigan mini tort claim, you can write a letter to the insurance company of the person who caused the accident, and request the money. Include the following in your letter: (1) The police report proving the person who caused the accident was at-fault; (2) The declaration sheet from your own insurance company showing your coverage; and (3) An estimate of vehicle repairs and/or photos including the license plate. For more information, read the sample letters below or call one of our Michigan mini tort lawyers at (800) 777-0028.
You can also read our Step by Step Guide to Collecting Your Michigan Mini Tort.