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Michigan Car Accident FAQ

Key Takeaways

  • When involved in a car accident, the most important thing to do is seek medical attention right away.
  • Not all accidents are serious enough to warrant legal action.
  • A lawyer is a valuable asset to protect yourself in the aftermath of a car accident.
  • Government entities generally cannot be sued, but there are a few exceptions of which to be aware.

As experienced car accident attorneys in Michigan, we have come across many different car accident cases. Here are some of the most common questions we get about auto accidents in Michigan. If you have any additional questions or want to speak to an attorney, contact us through our online form or call 1-866-22Not33.

Here is what is covered in this car accident guide.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident in Michigan?

Immediately after an accident, the first thought you may have is, “I was in a car accident. What should I do?”

When involved in a car accident, there are some steps you should take in the aftermath. Following the steps below can help navigate recovery and avoid potential legal issues:

  • Call 911 immediately to receive medical attention and get a police report of the accident. Police may also take witness statements, which can later help your case.
  • Get all the medical attention you need, and document your injuries. This includes taking photos of your injuries.
  • Photograph the crash scene. Make sure to take photos of any visible damage to the vehicles, skid marks on the road, and road conditions. Its important to gather visual evidence that could have contributed to the accident.
  • File a notification with your insurance company. You do not have to submit a completed claim yet, but you should notify your insurance provider that an accident occurred.
  • Contact an attorney. Get the legal help you need to navigate the aftermath while you focus on recovery.
  • Attend all medical appointments. Not only do you want to maintain your own health, but insurers may not take your claim seriously. Seeking a medical professional indicates that you are taking your injuries seriously.

Suing Without Car Insurance in Michigan

“I was hurt in an accident caused by another driver. I didn’t have insurance on my car, but why does that matter if the accident was his fault?”

This is one of the most common questions we get from clients. In Michigan, you can’t sue the other driver for pain and suffering if you didn’t have insurance on your vehicle. The intent behind this law is to prevent people from financially benefiting from the insurance system without paying in. It is true even if the other driver was 100% at fault.

Understanding Michigan No-Fault Laws

It’s essential to know that according to the no-fault law, you will be considered as the “owner” of a vehicle. This applies even if the vehicle is not registered under your name, but you had the right to use it for more than thirty days.

In other words, if a relative lets you use an uninsured vehicle that is in his or her name whenever you wish, and this is an arrangement that is intended to last at least thirty days, insurance must be purchased for that vehicle, even though it is not “yours” in the common meaning of the word. If you get in an accident in that uninsured vehicle, you will not get no-fault wage loss or medical coverage, wage loss, or other benefits. You also cannot sue the other driver for pain and suffering.

Don’t try to “get around” the requirement that there is insurance on the vehicle you are driving. The law is very strict and very clear on this point, and the consequences for violating the law could mean financial disaster for you even if you were not at fault.

Rehabilitation Benefits In Injury Cases

“What kinds of rehabilitation benefits will no-fault insurance pay in serious injury cases?”

The no-fault law says in general terms that auto insurance must pay for “reasonably necessary” medical and nursing care, products, services, and accommodations related to a motor vehicle accident. Examples of such services might include physical, occupational, and speech therapy, in-home care, transportation costs to obtain treatment, and modifications to a home to make it accessible to an injured person during recovery.

Recent court decisions mean that the insurance company may only have to pay for items that are ”over and above” what the injured person might have needed even before the accident.

Case Example One

Take, for example, the case of a woman paralyzed in a car accident and confined to a wheelchair thereafter. The auto carrier, according to the recent court decisions, may not be responsible for buying her a specially equipped van that will permit her to drive or be driven to her medical appointments. Rather, the insurer may argue that she needed some sort of vehicle to get around anyway and that the company would only pay for the modifications to a van that she buys on her own! This is an area where many new lawsuits are being filed.

Case Example Two

Another example pertains to home modifications. The insurer has the option of fixing the patient’s current home to accommodate her injuries, or it can decide that it would be less expensive to move the client to a home that is better suited to her needs. There can be considerable friction between a family that wants to stay in its current home and an insurer who will only pay for a (less expensive) place that won’t cost as much to get ready. That friction often leads to lawsuits by the patient against his or her insurance company.

Conflicts With No-Fault Insurance and Injury Rehabilitation Benefits

The main area of conflict with nursing and rehabilitation services comes when the insurance company argues that the care isn’t reasonable, necessary, or related to the collision or some combination of those factors. The insurance company may conduct its own review, and if its hired expert says the care doesn’t meet all three of these factors, the insurance company will cut off payment for those services.

In many instances, it is necessary to file suit in order to enforce the requirement that the insurance company will pay for services, products, and accommodations that the patient believes are needed to cope with the effects of an automobile accident.

Does The Other Driver’s Insurance Cover My Medical Expenses?

“Why should my car insurance have to pay my medical and wage loss expenses if the other driver caused the accident?”

This is probably one of the most common questions we have heard in more than 35 years of practicing auto law in Michigan. It is certainly reasonable to assume that the person who caused the accident between vehicles should pay the medical and economic expenses that the innocent parties incur. In fact, that’s the way it is in most states.

Michigan Laws in Car Accidents

However, Michigan is one of about 15 states that have some form of the no-fault system. The idea is that it is cheaper for the insurance system in the long run if each of us insure ourselves for medical and wage losses from an accident. Thus, if you get into a collision, your insurance steps up and takes care of you right away, and the other person’s insurance does the same for him or her. No need to sue or to worry about whether the other driver even had insurance in the first place. Michigan no-fault laws are supposed to make the system easier to use and cheaper for all of us.

No-fault laws determine that if you are in a collision with another driver, the other person’s insurance is not responsible for your medical, wage loss, or a couple of other benefits that are provided by law (there are a few exceptions that apply to pedestrians and motorcyclists, and that apply to the amount of wage loss you suffer). Remember: you may have health insurance or disability plans through work that might play into this, too.

Are No-Fault Injury Laws Effective?

If you are still thinking that this sort of system sounds strange, you are right to be skeptical. The fact is that there are so many loopholes and interpretations to the no-fault system that even attorneys who do this kind of work for a living have to argue cases about it all the time!

Here are some relevant Michigan laws for reference. Note that this list is not exhaustive:

But the general rule is that your insurance pays your medical expenses and wage losses, and the other driver pays his or hers.

How Do Michigan Courts Decide if an Auto Injury is Serious Enough to Deserve Money Damages?

Not every injury caused by an auto accident is considered serious enough under our law to qualify for compensation. Cases of bodily injury (this discussion does not apply to scarring cases or death cases) have to meet the standards of the no-fault law and the rules set down by the Michigan Supreme Court before the victim can qualify for monetary damages. Here are the three things that the injured person must be able to prove in order to win a verdict or settlement in a motor vehicle case:

  1. Objectively manifested injury (in other words, something that shows up on a test, not just a complaint of pain);
  2. Important body function affected (that’s just about anything);
  3. General ability to lead your normal life affected

Do No-Fault Laws Prevent You From Receiving Additional Compensation For Injuries?

Additional compensation options can be available if you have to have an injury that the doctors can document, and it has to affect your life in a negative way for more than just a few days or weeks. It is also important that you are affected by the injury in a way that other people can see (there has to be more than just saying how much pain you are in).

These standards seem to shift every few years. Also, because judgment calls are involved, sometimes you see cases where what you think would be just a minor injury gets a big settlement or court verdict, while other injuries that sound more significant get less. It all depends upon the person, the circumstances, the medical documentation, and being able to convince the other side’s insurance company that you meet all three of the threshold conditions listed above.

Should You Give a Statement To The Other Driver’s Insurance Company?

Man calling a tow truck after a rear end car accident

We advise that you should NEVER do that without the prior advice of an attorney. Here’s why.

You are handing over a tremendous advantage to the other side when you talk to a trained interviewer about the facts of an accident and about your injuries. Insurance companies for the other driver can contact you immediately after an accident and if you volunteer information to them before you understand what you might be getting into, you can do tremendous damage to your claim — even if you are “telling the truth.” That’s because a lot of the information they ask you about has nothing to do with facts, such as who ran the light, what color the other car was, or what day of the week this happened.

Why is The Other Driver’s Insurance Trying to Interview Me?

Here’s what the other side really wants to get from you in an interview:

  1. Test out the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Maybe it’s not clear who ran a stop sign, or whether you have any witnesses who can back you up. The other side wants to know right from the start if they can poke holes in your story — and you just might help them do it by talking to them!
  2. Size you up. How you come across has a big impact on how your case will be evaluated by a jury and certainly on how an insurance company views you as a risk. If you don’t come across as believable, the value of your case drops quickly. And people who are angry, hostile, or confused (like you are after an accident you didn’t cause) don’t come across well. They are easy to manipulate and they may say things they would regret later.
  3. Get information from you that can hurt your case. A common mistake people make in statements and depositions is that they offer information that reflects badly upon them, even if it isn’t directly related to the case. For example, you may have a drunk driving conviction in your past or child support arrears. Or perhaps you hurt your neck while you were in the service or in another accident years ago. All of these things will be turned into “negatives” to make you and your case look less worthy….you have to disclose these things at some point, but the time for that is not over the phone to your opponent.
  4. Get you to pin yourself down. You would be surprised how poorly most people judge time, distance and speed. If you give a statement about these factors, or about any matter that can be investigated, and you are wrong (or you tried to hide something), your statement will come back to haunt you. A jury doesn’t have to like you, but they have to believe you. Don’t say something now that blows up on you later.

You can see that we feel very strongly that an accident victim should NEVER give a statement to the other side in an injury incident that was not your fault. The way insurance companies tend to look at claimants is that they are “guilty until proven innocent.” Get legal advice before you give a statement to the other side.

Intentionally Caused Collision Damage

“If another driver crashes into me on purpose and wrecks my car, can I sue for the damage?”

Yes, if you can prove that the other driver intended to crash into you. The keyword is “intended.” Ordinarily, you can’t collect more than the $1,000 maximum from the other driver to pay for your collision damage. But if you have proof, such as witnesses to a road rage incident, that the other driver meant to slam into your car, you are eligible to sue for the full amount of your collision damage that is not covered by your insurance.

Please remember that you have to carry the minimum “PL/PD” coverage on your vehicle in Michigan. Otherwise, you are not eligible to make no-fault or collision damage claims yourself. It is not mandatory to carry collision coverage, although, if you have an auto lease or loan, the finance company or dealer may insist that you have it. If you don’t have collision coverage, you run the risk of absorbing the financial loss of damage to your vehicle.

For additional questions or to talk to a car accident lawyer in Michigan, contact us or call 1-866-22Not33 today.

Injury Threshold in Automobile Cases

“What kinds of injuries qualify for monetary damages in a Michigan automobile injury case?”

Not every collision results in injuries that qualify you to obtain monetary damages from the other driver for your injuries. In Michigan, there are just four kinds of cases that qualify for money claims against the owner, driver, or both of the vehicles that caused a collision. These are:

  1. Serious impairment of body function
  2. Permanent serious disfigurement
  3. Traumatic brain injury with neurological damage
  4. Death

The first three categories sound simple enough, but there is so much flexibility in terms such as “serious” and “permanent” that different lawyers and judges have different standards when they use the terms. The Michigan legislature and the Supreme Court have altered the criteria for what types of injuries qualify for compensation over time, in order to establish clear benchmarks for determining the level of injury necessary for an individual to pursue damages for pain and suffering.

But the fact remains that some insurance companies, and some juries and judges for that matter, have found that what you might think are terrible injuries are not “serious” enough to qualify for any money at all, while what appears to be much less severe injuries qualify for significant settlements or verdicts.

If you have been turned down by the first law firm you called because they didn’t think your injuries sounded serious enough for them to be interested in your claim, you should definitely call other firms to see if they can help you. There is no “one size fits all” answer to whether a claim has value or what that value may be.

What To Do About Road Rage Auto Injury Claims

“I was driving my uninsured car. Another driver crashed into me on purpose, causing me injuries. Because I was uninsured, am I unable to seek money damages?”

Here’s a question that came up recently. In Michigan, you can sue the other driver for intentionally crashing into you and causing you injury, even if you were in your own uninsured vehicle.

Now, we always say that you should never drive, or even be in, an uninsured vehicle on the road in Michigan. In addition to fines, the penalty for driving an uninsured vehicle in Michigan is that you can’t get no-fault benefits for any medical or wage losses you might suffer in a crash. You also cannot sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering.

However, one partial exception to this is in a road rage incident. Suppose you are driving your car when another motorist gets upset with you and, in a fit of “road rage,” deliberately crashes into you. As a result of the crash, you are injured. Here’s how that would work out:

  1. You CAN file a case against the other driver because he or she INTENDED to crash into you. If you can prove their intent in court, you can claim pain and suffering damages against that driver, even if you didn’t have insurance on your vehicle.
  2. You CAN recover economic damages (for example, medical bills or lost wages) from the other driver if you can prove the other driver intended to crash into you.
  3. The other driver’s insurance will still have to cover at least the bodily injury portion of your claim, even if their policy says it does not cover intentional acts.

This is not a recommendation that anyone should drive around without insurance, and you should do whatever you can to avoid getting into road rage situations.

Also, remember that if you get into a road rage situation and intentionally hurt another motorist or pedestrian, you are going to be fully financially responsible for any damages you cause. This will be on top of the severe criminal penalties that you may face. You won’t have the protection of the law to help you.

What Can You Do After Getting Hit By a Rental Car?

“Can I sue the rental car company if I get hurt by the person driving the car?”

There are a surprising number of instances where someone driving a rental car or truck causes an accident that injures another driver. Rental car companies are not responsible for the negligence of the person renting the vehicle. This means that you can still sue the driver for pain and suffering, but you can’t go after the rental company for compensation.

The exception to this is if you (more likely, your lawyer) can prove that the rental car company itself was negligent, such as by renting a car to a person with a suspended license or to someone who was visibly intoxicated when they rented the vehicle.

Can I File a Claim Against a Government Entity for a Car Accident in Michigan?

You are often not permitted to file a claim against a government entity for a car accident in Michigan. If your injuries occurred due to the negligence of a government worker carrying out a governmental function, you will likely not be able to sue. There are a few exceptions to be aware of, however, including injuries resulting from:

  • Maintenance of public highways and sidewalks
  • Negligent operation of a government vehicle
  • Defects in public buildings
  • Medical malpractice
  • Government entities that carry out proprietary functions

Why Clients Choose Matz Injury Law

Matz Injury Law allows clients to pursue their accident claims with confidence, as our team of attorneys has years of experience fighting for Michigan accident victims. Plus, our contingency fee is lower than a lot of other law firms.

Scenario: You are in an accident and awarded a $600,000 settlement.

  • Standard 33 1/3% contingency fee:
    • Total settlement: $600,000
    • Attorney’s fee: $200,000
    • Client payout: $400,000
  • Matz Injury Law’s 22% contingency fee:
    • Total settlement: $600,000
    • Attorney’s fee: $132,000
    • Client payout: $468,000

Our lower contingency fees mean that in this scenario, you walk away with $68,000 more in your pocket. That’s why our slogan is “22, not 33.”


“Matz Injury Law was the best decision I have made. Steve has been so helpful through this whole process and always there for me and my husband. He made everything quick and easy! I would highly recommend Matz Injury Law.” — Linda N.

“Many thanks to Jared and the staff at Matz Law! You definitely helped ease a very stressful situation. I really didn’t have to do anything; you folks did it all, which I appreciated very much. It’s never a pleasant experience when someone runs a red light and you wind up with lifelong injuries … and I sure didn’t want to have to deal with the insurance company too. 2 thumbs up from me!” — Kim B.

“I highly recommend Mr. Matz’s services. He is very knowledgeable, professional, and listens to his client’s concerns. Definitely would use his services again.” — Dean S.

Related Resources

Michigan Accident Lawyers Who Have You Covered

Those are some common questions we get as car accident lawyers in Michigan. To schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, fill out our online contact form or call 1-866-22Not33 today. Matz Injury Law has served clients across the state of Michigan, from Lansing to Saginaw to Grand Rapids and beyond.