TGIF is usually a relief, but for Michigan drivers, it’s also a time to be on high alert. According to the Michigan State Police, an average of over 50,000 traffic crashes happened on Fridays in 2022. While these stats shouldn’t keep you home, knowing Michigan car accident laws before going out is a smart idea.
Read on to learn your Michigan road rights, what to do after a crash, and when to seek legal help. Because collisions happen—yes, even in the state that’s famous for being at the center of the automobile industry.
How to Report a Car Accident in Michigan
First and foremost, if you’re in a car accident in Michigan, by law you must stop your vehicle. Render aid by making sure you and all passengers are out of further harm while checking for injuries. If anyone needs medical attention, call 911 immediately.
Michigan car accident laws require you to notify the police if there’s death, injury, or property damage of $1,000+. If you don’t know how to handle a car accident, the Michigan authorities will guide you through the process. They can witness the damages themselves, which will assist their investigation as well as your injury claim.
The police officer for your case must fill out a document known as a UD-10 Traffic Crash Report. As long as law enforcement files this, you don’t have to report the accident yourself. Otherwise, you’ll need to visit a local police station to give your account of the incident as soon as possible.
It can take anywhere from 3-30 days for your UD-10 Traffic Crash Report to process and be made available online. However, this is an important piece of information for anyone in a collision in Michigan to obtain. Especially if there may be a personal injury case filing down the line.
Once the report is available, participants in the crash may purchase copies online for a fee. You’ll need to create an account on the Michigan State Police site, but can order a report after signing in.
Information to Record at the Scene of the Crash
The main reason to secure a traffic report after an accident is to prove your liability. You’re required under Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.619 to exchange information with the other driver after a traffic accident has occurred. It’s important to collect your own details on-site so you can corroborate or challenge report findings.
Here are the required items to gather for all parties involved in an accident under Michigan car accident laws:
- Contact info (full name, address)
- Car registration and insurance card
Take note of these details as well, even though they are not mandatory to note down:
- Driver’s license and plate number
- Police officer’s name and contact info
- Other driver’s car make, model, and color
Additionally, take photos! That includes the above info as well as vehicle damage, injuries, your surroundings, and anything else you feel is pertinent. Make a note of the road type, the weather, and date/time of the accident.
Also, don’t apologize or take responsibility at the scene, even if you feel you were at-fault. Anything you say or do may be used against you by insurance adjusters and the other party’s attorney. That’s why booking your own Michigan auto attorney is crucial for your case. You need a professional to guide you through the legal process.
Michigan Car Insurance Laws
Michigan car insurance laws fall under a no-fault insurance format. This means every Michigan driver must carry a policy with Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Under Mich. Comp. Laws § 500.3102, you’re legally required to carry auto insurance at all times. Failure to do so will result in a misdemeanor and a fee of $500.
When there’s an automobile accident, Michigan drivers must file claims with their own insurance regardless of who’s at-fault. This holds true for any necessary medical treatments, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket losses up to the driver’s policy limits.
The good news is that Michigan’s PIP coverage is more comprehensive than most state’s requirements. A valid Michigan PIP claim may pay up to 85% of lost wages for up to three years from the accident date.
Michigan drivers may choose from six levels of PIP coverage when taking out an insurance policy. Each represents the maximum an insurance company will pay per person per accident. The PIP medical coverage policy options are:
- Unlimited coverage (this is the default option if a driver doesn’t select another)
- Up to $500,000 in coverage
- Up to $250,000 in coverage
- Up to $250,000 in coverage with PIP medical exclusions (available for participants with non-Medicare coverage or household members with health insurance that covers auto accidents)
- Up to $50,000 in coverage (available if insured or household members have Medicaid or another health insurance that covers auto accidents).
- PIP medical opt-out
In 2020, the state put into law required reductions in insurance premiums which should help everyone get adequate coverage.
Additional Minimum Insurance Requirements
Michigan car accident laws require drivers to purchase insurance plans to cover damages to other vehicles/individuals. The additional minimum requirements a person must carry to legally drive in Michigan are as follows:
- Property Protection (PPI). This coverage pays up to $1 million for damages your car does to another person’s property in Michigan. This includes things like fences, parked cars, and buildings. However, it does not pay for any other damage to cars in the accident.
- Residual Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD). This covers you if you’re found liable for serious injury, death, or property damage. The minimums for this are 20/40/10 which breaks down to:
- $20,000 for the bodily injury of one person per accident
- $40,000 for each accident if several people are hurt or killed
- $10,000 for damage your vehicle does to property in Michigan or another state
Of course, an individual can (and may wish to) purchase higher coverage amounts. But those minimums are in place to provide basic protection for all drivers in Michigan.
Anyone with additional insurance questions should contact the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) at 877-999-6442 or at Michigan.gov.
Michigan Fault Laws and Liability
Though Michigan is a no-fault insurance state, you can still sue the other party for personal injury. However, there are parameters that one must meet in order to pass your case through court. In order to sue another driver for your injuries, you must have insurance and be able to prove:
- The at-fault driver was negligent. This means the driver fails to use ordinary care, or that they violate a traffic safety law. Examples of negligence include drunk, distracted, or reckless driving.
- The driver’s negligence was the cause of your injury. Meaning it is medically provable that the crash caused your condition as well as your pain and suffering.
- The injuries meet Michigan’s serious impairment of body function threshold test (Mich. Comp. Laws § 500.3135). This means the auto accident victim’s injuries contribute to impairment of an important body function, affecting the victim’s general ability to lead a normal life.
It’s not easy to meet those three criteria and anyone considering pursuing a personal injury case should seek legal counsel. Especially since there is one other hurdle, and that is determining fault.
Comparative Negligence in Michigan
Under this policy, any driver who is found to be more than 50% responsible for a collision will be ineligible for compensation. But drivers who are less “at-fault” may sue the other driver for damages. However, the driver’s settlement will diminish depending on their percentage of fault for the crash.
To illustrate, if one driver was 75% responsible for the accident with $100,000 in damages, they get nothing. However, if the other driver was 25% responsible with $100,000 in damages, they may receive $75,000. But that only holds true if they can prove the other negligence and serious impairment parts as well.
Types of Claims and Damages in a Michigan Car Accident
Under Michigan car accident laws, you may sue the other driver only under certain circumstances. Generally, Michigan’s options for damages fall into two categories: economic (like medical bills) and non-economic (like pain and suffering).
Here are the claims you may make provided you are less at-fault.
Under a mini-tort, a victim may sue a driver who’s more than 50% responsible for up to $3,000 in damages. This is to cover the victim’s deductible and other limited property damage. Typically, this type of case starts in small claims court, but it may escalate if a settlement isn’t reachable.
When a claimant and their auto insurer disagree over what no-fault benefits they receive, they may file a first-party claim. Individuals may bring such a case against their insurer for unpaid and overdue benefit payments. Note that there is a one-year limit for filing a first-party car insurance case.
This type of claim is what you will recognize as a classic “suing the other driver” case. Personal injury lawsuits fall into this category. An individual may seek economic or non-economic damages from the more at-fault driver(s). But “threshold injury” cases are not easy to prove, and you’ll definitely need an attorney if pursuing a third-party lawsuit.
Michigan Car Accident Statute of Limitations
Any crash victim who wishes to sue for additional damages must do so within three years of the accident date. That is the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in the state of Michigan. The same three-year limit applies for wrongful death cases as well, but the clock starts from the date of passing.
While three years may sound like a generous window, it takes time to build a successful case. So, don’t wait too long to file, because if you miss the deadline, your case will get thrown out of court.
Find a Michigan Auto Accident Lawyer With LegalASAP
Michigan completely revamped their car accident laws in 2020. As a result, there are many nuances that a driver might miss when looking into compensation options post accident.
You will absolutely need a skilled auto accident attorney to help you navigate the changes successfully. Let us connect you with someone in our network for free right away! Because getting the representation you need is a smart move any day of the week!
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann