Steve Matz and his team have been practicing law in Michigan for decades. They’ve logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling to virtually every county in Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas, meeting with clients, and doing the work necessary to earn significant settlements on their clients’ behalf.
The State of Michigan has adopted no-fault insurance. What this means is that regardless of who is at fault, anybody Michigan resident injured in an automobile crash in the United States is entitled to certain benefits. Those benefits include:
However, as of July 2020 Michigan residents were able to elect to limit how much allowable expenses (medical care and attendant care) the insurance company is required to provide. Unlimited coverage is still available, but it is now possible to limit your coverage at $500,000, $250,000, and under some circumstances $50,000 or $0.
For a claimant, there are many pitfalls. The insurance company may contest whether certain treatments are necessary, or whether the cost of the treatment is reasonable. These and other provisions in your no-fault policy may result in you not getting the medical care or compensation you deserve.
The changes in the law have created a lot of confusion among insureds and even the insurance companies. At Matz Injury Law we are well versed in the law and will know exactly how to help you navigate the various issues that will arise throughout your claim.
Uninsured Motorist coverage is an optional benefit you can buy when you purchase your car, truck, or motorcycle insurance in Michigan. This coverage will protect you if you or your passengers are injured in a crash that is not your fault and the at-fault-driver does not have insurance. Underinsured Motorist coverage is a similar optional coverage that you can purchase to protect you from the situation where the at-fault driver has insurance but doesn’t have enough to fully cover the value of your injuries.
Many Michigan drivers are driving without automobile insurance; we estimate 20% statewide; more in the big cities. It is possible to buy insurance at some agencies where only a down payment is necessary to get coverage for a few weeks. Someone who thinks they can “beat the system” can buy coverage for just a short time-just long enough to get a
license plate and registration-and then can let the insurance lapse (expire) without paying again. People like this are doubly dangerous. Not only are they violating the law by not having insurance, and not paying into the system the rest of us rely upon for coverage, but they also tend to get into a lot of accidents, because they have little regard for laws we all know we are supposed to follow. In fact, a person who has a history of causing accidents finds it very expensive to buy insurance, and if they have convictions such as drinking and driving, they lose their license and can’t get insurance even if they can afford it. That doesn’t stop them from driving, but it does prevent them from driving with insurance.
That is where your uninsured and underinsured benefits come in. You are protecting yourself from the chance that someone who is already a proven risk taker will crash into you, seriously injure you, then tell you that they don’t have any insurance on their vehicle. It may even turn out that the vehicle that hit you was stolen and was fleeing from the police. No liability coverage there!
If you took the precaution of buying uninsured motorist coverage, you can apply to your own policy if you get involved in an accident with a motorist who is driving a vehicle that is not insured. Check your policy. This coverage is clearly indicated on your declaration page (the sheet that tells you what coverages you have, how much you bought, and how much it cost you). Compared to the other items you paid for; uninsured motorist coverage is not very expensive. You should buy as much of it as you can.
The same is true of underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage kicks in if somebody causes serious injury to your passengers or you in a collision, just like uninsured benefits do. The difference is simply that underinsurance applies over and above the coverage that the other driver carries. When you consider that the minimum liability coverage (that’s the “PL” in “PL/”PD) that we have to carry in Michigan is only $50,000, you can see that this isn’t going to go very far if the other driver causes great bodily harm in a crash with you!
Your underinsured motorist coverage gets a “credit” for the amount of coverage the other driver has. Over and above that, you and your lawyer get to fight it out with your insurance company over how much of the underinsured motorist coverage you should get. You don’t automatically get anything—you must prove that the other driver was (mostly) at fault, and that your injuries are serious. Insurance companies often fight underinsured motorist claims just as hard as the other driver would have, because they know that you can still be at fault for an accident and not have to pay the victims anything if they weren’t seriously hurt—and the word “serious” has special meaning in the world of auto injury cases in Michigan.
You should know that both uninsured and underinsured benefits are defined by the individual policy you have with your insurance company. It is very important that
you don’t assume you are covered, or not covered, by these optional benefits, until you have an attorney who concentrates on auto law in Michigan review your policy and every auto policy in your household! Be especially careful not to sign any agreements to settle any part of your case until you have a lawyer investigate the situation for you.
Remember: passengers of cars hit by uninsured drivers may qualify for benefits from the car they were in, even if the passenger didn’t have car insurance of his or her own.
Please don’t be an uninsured driver yourself. Even if you think that you have nothing to lose if somebody sues you, remember that uninsured drivers are also disqualified from the Michigan No-Fault system. That means they cannot sue the other driver for pain and suffering even if the other driver was at fault. Uninsured drivers can make no claim against the other driver for collision damage, and cannot claim medical or wage loss benefits, either (because these were supposed to come from the insurance that they should have bought).
Protect yourself by having a generous amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on your Michigan auto policy. The chances of being injured by a careless driver go up every time you get behind the wheel, and the chances that a reckless driver doesn’t care if you get hurt are even greater.
$360,000 settlement on behalf of a 28 year-old dairy worker who suffered a separated shoulder.
$400,000 for a vacationing motorist whose SUV was struck by a pickup truck that crossed the center line on an icy northern Michigan road.
$600,000 settlement for a mild closed head injury victim.
$170,000 settlement for a construction worker who suffered a shoulder injury when struck by a driver on an icy road in Clare County.
$200,000 settlement on behalf of a young woman who suffered leg and foot fractures after an automobile/pedestrian collision.
$200,000 settlement in a rural county for a 4 year-old who died as a result of a truck/pedestrian collision.
$350,000 to a woman who suffered a broken arm when her vehicle was struck by a semi.
$825,000 settlement on behalf of a 25 year-old man in a rural county with a peroneal nerve injury as a consequence of an automobile/truck collision.
$290,000 for a 70 year-old woman whose car was broadsided by a driver who claimed he had the green light at an intersection.
$200,000 (policy limit) settlement for the wrongful death of a recent immigrant.