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Recovering Compensation After a Crash With an Underinsured Driver

female in car accidentIf you drive a car in Michigan, you must purchase and carry the minimum limits of insurance protection as required by state law. In spite of this mandate, as much as 21 percent of drivers do not have insurance, and many other motorists are underinsured.

If you get into a car accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver, it could be a costly experience if you are not prepared. Our attorneys at Jay Trucks & Associates discuss how you can recover compensation for damages caused by an at-fault driver in this situation.

Who is Eligible To File For Damages?

Michigan is a no-fault state, so regardless of who is responsible for a car accident, each injured party will first file a no-fault insurance claim and use his or her own personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to pay for medical expenses and lost wages, up to the maximum limits of the coverage purchased.

Why is Michigan a No-Fault State?

Originally Michigan’s no-fault system was created to help streamline and simplify the claims process. By taking this approach, injured accident victims were able to quickly access compensation through their PIP benefits to cover medical bills, lost wages and replacement services.

What Happens if My PIP Benefits Run Out?

Policies in effect prior to the No-Fault Auto Insurance Reform have unlimited lifetime benefits. However, policies purchased from July 1, 2020 and going forward can opt for lower limits, based on coverage the consumer chooses. Benefits will not exceed purchased PIP limits.

However, if you have remaining damages after exhausting your PIP benefits, you may be able to pursue a third-party car crash claim if you can establish the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence and you also meet the state's injury severity requirements.

What if the At-Fault Driver is Underinsured?

Under normal circumstances, you could recover excess economic damages or non-economic damages through the at-fault party’s insurance. However, if the at-fault driver was underinsured or had no insurance at all, and you purchased UM/UIM coverage, you may be able to pursue a claim for these damages under your own insurance policy. UM/UIM coverage is not expensive for the peace of mind and significant protection it provides.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Recover?

If you meet Michigan’s eligibility requirements for filing an auto negligence lawsuit, you may be able to pursue compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Excess economic damages

The Not-So-Good News

In Michigan, if you are injured in a car accident that was caused by someone else and you do not have car insurance, then you cannot sue for damages, regardless of the severity of your injuries. This is yet another critical reason to make sure you buy at least the minimum insurance required by law.

Additionally, if you contributed to the car accident, Michigan’s comparative negligence law applies. This means, for example, if you were 20 percent at-fault for the collision, any compensation awarded through a third-party negligence claim will be reduced by your degree of fault (in this scenario, 20 percent). If you are more than 50 percent at fault, you cannot pursue a third-party claim for damages.

Contact Our Firm For Legal Assistance Today

Michigan has one of the most complicated insurance systems in the country. This is why we strongly recommend that you contact a qualified attorney for legal assistance if you are injured in a car crash caused by another’s negligence.

At Jay Trucks & Associates, our Grand Rapids car accident lawyers welcome the opportunity to review the circumstances of your accident, determine your legal options for pursuing damages, and answer any questions you may have regarding underinsured car crash claims.

We charge nothing for your initial consultation and charge no fees for our services unless we achieve a recovery on your behalf.

Jay Trucks & Associates: (800) 762-8623