Car accidents can become a headache fast. You’re left without a vehicle while it’s in the shop, so you have to figure out transportation until it’s been repaired. Not to mention simple tasks like going to work and grocery shopping require extensive planning because you need a ride. The worst part of car accidents, though, is the unexpected costs surrounding vehicle repairs. While many people try to set money aside for a rainy day, sometimes that’s easier said than done.
When you’re involved in a car accident that was not your fault, you shouldn’t be held responsible for paying for the repairs to your vehicle.
In Michigan, drivers can sue the at-fault driver for damages in what is known as a mini-tort claim. It’s important to note that the compensation from a mini-tort claim does not help any costs related to physical injuries you may have sustained. The Michigan car accident attorneys will explain what a mini-tort claim is. We’ll also explain how it can help when you’ve been involved in a car accident.
If you’re looking into filing a mini-tort claim, the attorneys at Lipton Law can help you along the way. Obtaining legal representation always increases your chances of a successful claim, no matter how small you may think the claim is. To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call 248-557-1688 today.
What Is a Michigan Mini Tort Claim?
A mini-tort claim is an insurance claim that allows a person to recover a maximum of $3,000 in vehicle damages from the at-fault driver. The damages can come from the driver or their auto insurance company. There is some confusion about mini-tort claims and the $3,000 a victim can be awarded.
The $3,000 is designed to cover any vehicle damages that your own insurance company does not cover. Mini-tort claims are only meant to cover property damage and not damages for injuries. In 2020, accidents prior to July 1 were only able to recover $1,000 in damages. Any car accidents that occurred after July 1, 2020, are eligible for the increased rate of $3,000.
What Damages Does the Mini Tort Law Cover?
Mini-tort claims only cover vehicle damages caused by an auto accident. This means that mini-tort claims do not cover towing costs, rental car expenses, or even injuries. The maximum $3,000 will be used for vehicle repairs or to cover the deductible.
However, if the at-fault driver is not insured at the time of the accident, the other driver can file a lawsuit to recover the total damages and additional costs related to the accident. These costs can include a rental car or loss of vehicle use.
Who Pays for Vehicle Damage Under the Mini Tort Law?
If the at-fault driver has auto insurance, they’re responsible for the $3,000 towards vehicle damages caused by the accident.
What If My Claim Doesn’t Cover All the Damages?
The Michigan mini-tort law was not created to cover all vehicle damages caused by a car accident. Instead, the mini-tort law was made to compensate drivers for any out-of-pocket expenses resulting from a car accident they were not at fault for. If you’re involved in a car accident and have some coverage, the repairs should be paid for from that policy. However, even if you have collision coverage, you can still make a claim under the mini-tort law. The claim can be for out-of-pocket expenses, like your deductible.
How Does the Michigan Mini Tort Law Work?
According to the Michigan mini-tort law, individuals involved in car accidents can recover up to $3,000 in damages from the at-fault driver. Car accident victims can sue the at-fault driver if they’re 50% at fault and the damages are worth more than your car insurance collision deductible. Mini-tort claims are a good way for Michigan drivers to cover their deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. A mini-tort case is usually handled in small claims court.
The amount of compensation you’re awarded from a mini-tort claim will depend on the percentage that the other driver is found to be at fault. This is known as “comparative fault.” It means that a driver’s damages will be reduced based on the percentage they are at fault. For example, suppose the other driver is found to be 60% at fault and the damages total $100. They’ll be responsible for $60 worth of damages. Meanwhile, you’ll be required to pay the remaining $40 since you’re 40% at fault for the car accident.
If You Have Standard Collision Coverage
One type of collision coverage you can have in Michigan is standard collision coverage, also known as basic coverage. With this type of insurance coverage, you’ll be required to pay your collision deductible regardless of whether or not you caused the accident. In an auto accident where the car is totaled, the auto insurance company will pay you the vehicle’s value minus the deductible amount.
If you have standard collision coverage and are less than 50% at fault for the accident, you will need to file a mini-tort claim against the driver who caused the accident. The mini-tort claim will help you recover your deductible amount. For example, if you have $1,000 in standard collision coverage, you should be able to recover that from a mini-tort claim.
If You Have Broad Collision Coverage
The other type of collision coverage you can have is known as broad collision coverage, which is usually more expensive than the standard coverage mentioned above. If you’re in a car accident and are less than 50% responsible for the accident, your personal insurance company will waive the deductible. Since drivers with broad coverage don’t have out-of-pocket expenses, they cannot file a mini-tort claim.
Do Motorcycles Qualify Under the Mini Tort Law in Michigan?
Since motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles under the Michigan No-Fault Law, motorcycle accidents are not eligible for mini-tort claims.
Will My Deductible Affect My MI Mini Tort Claim?
Everyone’s insurance deductibles vary, so we’ve listed some examples below.
- If you carry a $1,000 standard deductible, you’ll need to pay that deductible regardless of whether you’re found at fault for the accident.
- According to the mini-tort law, you can recover up to $3,000 towards your car damages for costs not covered by your car insurance policy.
- If your deductible is the same or below the Michigan mini-tort cap, you won’t have to pay for out-of-pocket expenses or be liable for vehicle damages.
- If your deductible is less than the maximum recovery amount, your mini-tort claim will only cover that lower amount since that is technically an out-of-pocket expense. You can only claim the lower amount if the damages cost less than your deductible.
How Can Other Deductibles Affect My Car Accident Claim?
In Michigan, many people have medical deductibles as part of their personal injury protection (PIP) no-fault auto insurance policies. If you have a $500 per person medical deductible, you’ll pay the first $500 of medical bills related to the automobile accident. Once you’ve paid that $500, your Michigan no-fault insurance policy will kick in. It begins covering medical expenses related to the accident.
Michigan mini-tort claims do not allow medical reimbursements. The damages recovered from a mini-tort are only for expenses related to vehicle damages.
Some insurance companies have begun offering deductibles for lost wages as part of PIP coverage. Wage loss benefits are also not covered under a mini-tort claim in Michigan.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim Under the Michigan Mini Tort Law?
In Michigan, you have three years from the date of the auto accident to file your mini-tort claim or collect on your claim. Once the three years have passed, the claim will have expired, and you will not be able to collect damages.
What Happens If the At-Fault Party Won’t Pay My Claim?
In cases where the driver at fault’s insurance company won’t pay a mini-tort claim, the driver reported that you were at fault for the accident. When this happens, it’s best to file a mini-tort claim in small claims court so that you can recover damages owed to you.
If the driver at-fault does not have an auto insurance policy, they’re responsible for the full extent of damages, and the $3,000 cap on mini-tort claims does not apply. If the car damage exceeds $6,500, the mini-tort claim will need to be removed, and a lawsuit must be filed in a Michigan district court.
How to Determine the Value of Your Mini Tort Claim
To determine the amount you can recover from your mini-tort claim, you will need to provide the following documentation:
- The police report from the car accident shows the other driver was at-fault due to negligent or otherwise reckless behavior.
- An estimate of vehicle repairs from a licensed mechanic shop or car dealership.
- A copy of your auto insurance paperwork that states you’re responsible for paying your deductible.
You will be awarded the lower amount if the repair estimate is less than your deductible or the mini-tort maximum compensation amount.
How Can I Seek Damages if I File a Mini Tort?
Filing a mini-tort claim can be completed in five simple steps.
- Collect information from the at-fault driver. You should ask for their name, address, and vehicle registration number, and they should show you their driver’s license. If someone else owns the vehicle, they need to give you the name and address of the vehicle’s owner. You should also collect their insurance company information, including the company’s name, policy number, and agent. It’s also recommended to take pictures of their information and scenes from the accident.
- Obtain a copy of the police report. The official police report should verify the information the at-fault driver provided. The report should also include evidence of the at-fault driver’s actions that prove they caused the accident.
- Take your vehicle to a licensed repair shop or car dealership to get an estimate on repair costs.
- Request a copy of your Declarations page from your insurance company.
- Contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company and notify them about the mini-tort claim you’ve filed.
Do You Have a Mini Tort Claim in Michigan?
If you were involved in a car accident that you did not cause and your vehicle was damaged, you could have grounds to file a Michigan mini-tort claim. It’s important to note that the other driver must be found to be at least 50% responsible for causing the accident. You will also need to have a current auto insurance policy to pursue a mini-tort claim.
Contact the Michigan Personal Injury Lawyers at Lipton Law Today
Damages to your motor vehicle can get expensive very quickly. This is why it’s always so important to collect the other driver’s information at the scene of an accident. You should not be held financially responsible for your car’s damages when you did not cause the accident.
Thanks to Michigan mini-tort laws, you can pursue legal action against the other driver to recover damages for your vehicle. The steps to file a mini-tort claim may seem fairly straightforward. However, seeking legal counsel is always recommended when dealing with any type of car accident. Call Lipton Law regarding your mini-tort claim. Our personal injury attorneys will ensure you have the necessary documentation required to file the claim.
To schedule a free consultation with a Michigan car accident attorney, call 248-557-1688 today.