Understand the Car Accident Claim Process in Michigan

Experiencing a car accident can be life-changing in many ways. Whether it’s a minor accident or a major one, it can leave you reeling and trying to figure out how to move on from the traumatic event. You know the basics of reporting the accident and getting care if you need it, but there is far more involved when it comes to a car accident claim.

How you file a claim and the process that you go through may vary depending on your coverage or your situation. In this guide, we share some insight to help you better understand the car accident claims process in Michigan. If you find yourself in a car accident situation, consider working with auto accident lawyers in Michigan to help you through the process.

Car Insurance Claim Process

Every insurance company is different, which means their claim process might also be different. There are typically multiple steps that you will need to follow or be aware of. Most car accident victims have three choices when it comes to legal options and getting compensation for the damages caused by the accident.

  1. PIP Insurance

PIP insurance is a no-fault insurance benefit that you can purchase. Since Michigan is a no-fault state, this is your starting point for being paid following an accident injury. Your first step will be to file with your PIP coverage to help with immediate medical expenses and lost wages. Most PIP policy claims have to be filed within 14 days, so you will want to move quickly.

Here is what PIP insurance provides:

  • Medical expense coverage up to a certain amount
  • Mileage reimbursement for medical travels
  • Lost wage replacement of 85% of gross income (up to 3 years)
  • Assistance in the household (up to $20 per day)
  • Assisted care as needed, up to 56 hours per week

While PIP is designed to step in when an accident occurs, they are not obligated to pay without reasonable proof of the injuries you are claiming. They may require an application, police reports, pictures, medical records, and more.

  1. Mini Tort Recovery

Michigan uses a mini tort law for auto insurance. This law gives drivers the ability to sue for property damage in the event of an accident. There are limitations as to how much you can sue for under this particular law. The law will allow you to sue up to $3,000 for damages if the other driver is 50% or more at fault in the accident.

Since the law requires the other driver to be 50% or more at fault, that means you will need to be able to prove their liability. In this case, you will also need to be able to show that your damages are less than $3,000, since that is the mini tort recovery limit.

This type of case goes through a small claims court process. You won’t be allowed to use legal representation and will be required to represent yourself and provide the necessary evidence and proof. If a case goes to mini tort recovery, you do have the ability to request the case be moved to district court and can hire a lawyer at that time.

  1. Pain and Suffering Compensation

If your case exceeds PIP or mini tort recovery, you can hire a lawyer and sue the other driver for benefits beyond those means. This type of claim will allow you to sue for both economic and non-economic damages. That means you can recover more damages, more lost wages, medical expenses, etc. from hiring a lawyer and filing a suit.

When you file a suit, there will be requirements and the burden of proof to show your injuries and the effect that they have had on your finances, lifestyle, and recovery. How has this injury disrupted your life?

You will want an experienced attorney if you choose to sue for additional compensation and damages. If you have a strong case, you can likely receive far more compensation through this option.

Medical Insurance and Car Accidents

Many car insurance policies include some sort of medical benefit as part of the coverage. Those costs typically coordinate with any medical coverage that you have in place. Your healthcare coverage outside of the car insurance will be the primary coverage. Your car insurance medical benefits will be secondary.

That being said, there are many insurance companies that don’t follow a coordinated coverage as just described. Those insurance claims will just pay you outright for medical expenses, regardless of any health coverage that you may have.

What About Arbitration?

Some car accident claims go through arbitration rather than going through a full court appearance. Arbitration is a legal process in which one or more parties try to settle outside of court. If you’re struggling to reach a settlement, arbitration may be recommended.

Some policies require arbitration to be used prior to taking a claim to court with a judge and jury. The arbitration process may help to settle a dispute or claim without drawing it out in court, thus simplifying the process.

Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you can choose the process that feels best for you. If your injuries exceed PIP coverage or mini tort recovery, you should plan to hire a lawyer to help you navigate the case and get maximum compensation.

Choose experienced auto accident lawyers in Michigan who have had success with cases like yours in the past and can get you the compensation you deserve.

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