MICHIGAN, USA — Since many Michiganders travel for spring break, it’s important to know how Michigan no-fault insurance coverage applies should a driver experience an auto accident.
It raises the question: If a driver is injured in an accident, would no-fault benefits still kick-in to help with medical bills or lost wages?
Michigan Auto Law attorney Brandon Hewitt said, yes.
“If a Michigan resident is injured in a crash out-of-state, somewhere other than Michigan, then he or she may be eligible to recover no-fault benefits to pay for medical bills resulting from accident-related injuries and benefits to reimburse for lost wages if the Michigan resident’s injuries disable him or her from working.”
Hewitt said there are several scenarios under which no-fault benefits may be recovered after an out-of-state car accident:
- The Michigan resident can recover no-fault benefits if he or she was the named insured on a no-fault policy.
- The Michigan resident can recover no-fault benefits if he or she was the spouse or resident relative of a named insured.
- The Michigan resident can recover no-fault benefits if he or she was “an occupant of a vehicle involved in the accident” that occurred out-of-state.
In addition, Hewitt said a victim might be able to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation after they have been injured in an out-of-state car accident.
“You will generally be able to bring a third-party, negligence lawsuit against the at-fault driver who caused your out-of-state car accident, however, the process, rules, legal requirements and tort thresholds you must comply with will be determined by the state where the accident occurred.”
He cautioned that under certain circumstances the auto insurance company who paid a driver’s no-fault benefits could put a lien on their recovery.
Hewitt explained, “a lien is a legal way for your insurance company to prevent you from getting your money until the insurance has taken whatever portion it thinks it is owed.”
He said, “In the case of an out-of-state car accident, your insurance company may try to put a lien on your pain and suffering compensation recovery in order to recoup the money it spent on your no-fault benefits. However, under these circumstances, the insurance could only file a lien if your pain and suffering compensation recovery also included recovery for economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages that are otherwise covered by and paid for through Michigan no-fault benefits.”
Hewitt added, “In other words, the Michigan auto insurance company who pays your no-fault benefits related to an out-of-state crash will file and pursue a lien to recover to recover dollar for dollar from any out-of-state tort recovery that duplicates benefits already recovered from no-fault.”
Paying to repair damage to your car after an out-of-state crash
When asked about repairing damage to a vehicle after an out-of-state crash, Hewitt said, “You may have to sue the at-fault driver who caused the crash and resulting damage to your vehicle, but the process, rules, and legal requirements will depend on the law of the state in which the crash occurred. If you cannot sue the at-fault driver (because the law does not permit it or he or she was uninsured or underinsured or he or she lacks the financial resources to pay out-of-pocket), then you may have to file a claim under your own collision coverage (assuming you have purchased this optional coverage).”
If YOU cause an out-of-state car accident that INJURES SOMEONE
According to Hewitt, if you were at-fault in causing the out-of-state crash, then the injured person may be able to sue you for pain and suffering compensation, depending on the laws of the state where the crash occurred.
If you have a Michigan no-fault car insurance policy and the out-of-state crash occurred “within the United States, its territories and possessions, or in Canada,” then the “bodily injury” portion of your Michigan residual liability insurance coverage will help pay for the compensation and economic damages that you may owe.
However, to determine the extent of your liability coverage, you should check the terms of your insurance policy because Michigan law only requires the “bodily injury” portion of your residual liability insurance to provide coverage that is “equivalent” to – but not more than – the minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance coverage that is required by the law of the state in which the crash and injury occurred. (MCL 500.3131(1))
If YOU cause an out-of-state car accident that DAMAGES ANOTHER PERSON’S VEHICLE
Hewitt said the “property damage” portion of your Michigan residual liability insurance will help you pay for vehicle damage that you may owe if you are found to be at-fault for causing a car accident out of state and “within the United States, its territories and possessions, or in Canada.” (MCL 500.3101(1); 500.3009(1); 500.3131(1)) However, the “property damage” portion of your residual liability insurance may only provide coverage for vehicle damage that matches – but does not exceed – the minimum amount of property damage liability insurance coverage that is required by the law of the state in which the crash and injury occurred. (MCL 500.3131(1))
If you need the help of an attorney, contact Michigan Auto Law at 833-411-MICH or visit www.MichiganAutoLaw.com.
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