When you think of Michigan, perhaps your first thought is of the Detroit Automobile Company, which later became the Henry Ford Company — manufacturer of Ford automobiles. Detroit is headquarters to the "Big Three" American auto manufacturers: General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US.
But Michigan isn't just known for cars… it's also home to Lake Michigan, 1 of the 5 Great Lakes of North America. In fact, it has the longest freshwater coastline in the country and it's the only state that touches 4 of the Great Lakes.
Fun fact: Anywhere you are in Michigan, you're no more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes!
If you live in or plan to visit Michigan, this means it's important to know that people are on the move. And where people travel, it's inevitable that there will be car accidents.
Let's take a look at the laws, regulations and statutes relating to Michigan car accidents.
There are approximately 8 million registered vehicles in Michigan, and there are about 100 billion motor vehicle miles traveled in Michigan.
Over the past decade, there has been an average of about 297,000 Michigan car crashes each year. Of those, there's an average of around 73,000 injuries and 950 fatalities each year.
You can't anticipate what type of car accident you might have — if you could, you'd avoid it. Every accident is different, and your experience will be different from that of any other person.
But there are some common types of car accidents, and understanding how these accidents happen can help you avoid being involved in one.
A rear-end crash happens when a vehicle collides with a vehicle in front of it. Often, a rear-end crash is caused by driver inattention, distraction, or tailgating.
Unfortunately, it's hard to prevent being rear-ended. Sometimes, there's literally nothing you can do to stop it. But you can give plenty of notice to a driver behind you that you'll need to slow or stop your car. Signaling early, checking mirrors frequently, and avoiding hard braking are good strategies that could reduce your risk of being rear-ended.
A head-on collision is the most likely to result in serious injuries or fatality because of the increased amount of force that affects the driver and passengers. One of the drivers in a head-on crash is usually distracted, drunk, speeding, or negligent in some other way.
This is when a vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle, most commonly at an intersection. Often, this happens because a driver fails to stop at a signal (like a stop sign or traffic light) or fails to yield the right-of-way. Like head-on collisions, a T-bone accident can result in very serious injuries.
Usually, a sideswipe happens when 2 vehicles collide while traveling alongside each other in the same direction. It could also happen when a driver makes a lane change without looking to the side, and they merge into another vehicle.
A single-vehicle crash could happen when a vehicle collides with a pedestrian, bicyclist or animal, a stationary object like a building or tree, or slides off the road.
There are instances when an accident was caused by another driver, such as if you had to swerve off the road to avoid colliding with another car. You might also have crashed because of poor weather conditions like slippery roads, low visibility, or other reasons. There's also a possibility that a vehicle defect (for example, faulty brakes or a loss of power steering) could result in a single-vehicle crash.
The changes affect an auto insurance policy issued or renewed after July 1, 2020. Policies from before that date would be subject to the former laws. Below, we give an overview of the new insurance laws.
You may also choose additional coverage. While additional coverage would increase the amount of your premium, it's a small price to pay in the event that you ever need it. If you don't have these coverages, any expenses related to a car accident would be paid out of your own pocket.
Michigan is a no-fault insurance state.
When it comes to fault for a car accident (or any personal injury accident), Michigan follows what's known as the "51% Rule" of modified comparative fault.
When an accident happens that involves more than 1 driver, the insurance companies will determine who's at fault. In many situations, while 1 driver might have caused the accident, there are ways that the other driver might have avoided it and therefore they may be held partially responsible.
For instance, if you collided with another car because the driver made a left turn in front of you when you had the right of way, it's clearly that driver who caused the accident. But it could be determined that you would have avoided the accident if you'd braked sooner, if you were obeying the speed limit, or other behaviors that could have prevented an accident, even though you didn't cause it.
If that happens, the next step is to determine each party's percentage of liability. In the scenario above, perhaps it would be found that the other driver was 80% liable and you were 20% liable, for example.
Determining liability is important, and here's why:
As a plaintiff with a portion of fault, your damage recovery would be reduced according to your allocation of fault. In other words, say the court determines that a defendant owes you $100,000 to cover costs for your injuries. If you were 20% liable, the court would reduce that award by 20% and you'd receive $80,000 in damages.
A mini-tort is when there is only damage to your vehicle. In such cases, you could recover up to $1,000 from the at-fault driver's insurance if the other driver is more than 50% at fault.
If your own insurance fails to pay the amount you believe you should receive for medical expenses, wage loss, or other related costs, you might be able to file a first-party claim against your insurance company for these damages.
The purpose of personal injury law is to make the plaintiff (the injured person) "whole", or to restore you to the financial condition you would be in if the accident had never happened. While no amount of money can restore your physical health or mental well-being, the courts do sometimes compensate people for pain and suffering and mental or emotional distress that results from an accident.
However, these non-economic damages (i.e. they don't have a specific monetary value) are not covered by insurance. Therefore, if you suffered these types of injuries, your only recourse is to file a lawsuit. This would be a third-party tort claim.
Since Michigan is a no-fault insurance state, you would file a claim with your own insurance company after a car accident, regardless of who caused the crash. However, if your insurance doesn't cover the full extent of your expenses, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver for the additional costs. This can include medical expenses beyond your policy limits, pain and suffering damages, and future lost earning capacity if your injuries left you unable to return to work.
The statute of limitations for a Michigan car accident lawsuit is 3 years. That means you have 3 years from the date of the accident in which to file a lawsuit. If you don't file within that period of time, the court will likely not consider your claim.
Your first priority after an accident is to receive medical treatment for your injuries. If you're uninjured, check on the condition of your passengers and, if possible, the condition of people in any of the other involved vehicles.
Here's what you can do to protect yourself and your legal claim:
A personal injury lawyer can assist with every aspect of your accident claim — from negotiating with your own insurance company to filing a lawsuit if it becomes necessary. Your lawyer's job is to work for you to minimize your percent of liability and maximize the amount of damages you can recover from a Michigan car accident.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more