By Dan Makled on October 22nd, 2020 in
What Does “No-Fault” Mean for Those Injured in an Auto Accident?
Different states have different types of auto insurance, which can include no-fault, comparative fault, and contributory negligence. There may also be variations, like modified comparative fault. No-fault auto insurance is also known as PIP (personal injury protection) coverage and is basically meant to cover medical expenses for yourself and your passengers following a car accident—no matter who was at fault for the accident. So, for example, if you rear-end another vehicle, leading to injuries to your passengers and to you, PIP will help pay for all those medical costs. If another person rear-ends you, PIP will also pay for your medical treatment—as well as for the medical treatment of your injured passengers. Contact Dan Makled for auto accident fault determination.
While Michigan had a no-fault auto insurance system in place since 1973, the system has gone through some changes. A no-fault law that required unlimited lifetime coverage for all injuries resulting from an auto accident was added as an amendment in 1978. Michigan happens to be the highest-priced state in the United States for auto insurance. In fact, auto insurance premiums in the state were almost 80 percent more expensive than the national average in 2019. The legislation was passed in 2019 that further overhauled the no-fault system. Michigan residents can now choose from three different policy limit choices ($50,000, $250,000, or $500,000)—or opt-out altogether under certain circumstances. These options are meant to make auto insurance more affordable while reducing the number of Michigan uninsured drivers.
PIP covers medical expenses, health insurance deductibles, lost wages, essential services (childcare, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.), and funeral expenses if one of your passengers loses their life in a car accident. PIP does not cover property damage—you will need property damage liability insurance to cover that. You will also need collision insurance if you damage your own car in an accident. You are only allowed to opt-out of PIP if you have both Parts A and B of Medicare and all other household members have qualified health coverage or are covered under another auto policy with PIP medical coverage. No-fault insurance takes away much of the necessity for auto accident fault determination.
What Does Comparative Fault Mean?
Some states—like California—operate under comparative fault laws. This means that a person injured in an auto accident can still recover damages, even if that person is partially to blame. If the laws are “pure comparative fault,” then a victim can recover some damages, even if they are 99 percent at fault for the accident. Under modified comparative fault, a plaintiff is barred from recovering damages if they are 50 percent or more at fault for the accident.
How Does Auto Accident Fault Determination Work?
If the other driver is at fault for the accident, his or her insurance will pay for the damages to your vehicle, even if your PIP insurance pays for your injuries and lost wages. The fault also matters when you are recovering damages for pain and suffering due to the negligence of the other driver. Comparative fault applies to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, as well as recovery for vehicle auto repair costs.
Suppose another driver runs a red light, colliding with your vehicle. When a fault is determined, it is found that the driver who hit you is 95 percent responsible, but because you were exceeding the speed limit, you are 5 percent responsible. Your own PIP insurance will pay for your injuries and lost wages. If your settlement amount for your vehicle is $30,000 and the amount for your pain and suffering is $150,000, then your $180,000 will be reduced by 5 percent $180,000, or $9,000. If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you will not be allowed to recover damages for your vehicle or for your pain and suffering.
Determining fault can be easy in some instances, however, in others, it may be unclear who caused the accident. A police report may shed some light on fault, but often times insurance adjusters will engage in their own investigation to determine fault. Obviously, the insurance company has a stake in proving the other driver was at fault, or at least partially at fault. Witness statements can help prove fault in an auto accident; if there were witnesses, it is important that you obtain their contact information at the time of the accident, otherwise, it could be hard to locate witnesses. Security cameras in the area are also useful in determining faults. Your attorney will canvass the scene and identify any areas that might have information on their footage that will help determine fault.
How Does Compensation Work in a No-Fault State?
You will file with your own insurance company for your medical expenses and lost wages. This is true unless your accident resulted in a “serious impairment of body function,” a “permanent, serious disfigurement,” or death. The “threshold law” is a test that you must “pass” in order to prove your injuries are severe enough to pursue damages against the negligent driver. Your injuries must affect your lifestyle in order to rise to the level of a threshold injury. In the case of a serious impairment of body function, that impairment is not required to be permanent. Your injuries, must, however, meet the following criteria:
- The impairment of a body function must affect your overall ability to lead a normal life
- Injuries must be observable or perceivable by others
- The “important body function” must be a body function of “great value, significance, or consequence” to you
- Each injury is examined on a case-by-case basis and will require a comparison of your life before and after the accident
So, if your injuries are life-altering, then you could be filing against the negligent driver’s insurance company for medical expenses, lost wages, damages to your vehicle, and pain and suffering damages as well. It is essential that you have a highly qualified auto accident attorney who can help you with auto accident fault determination following your accident.
How Can Attorney Dan Makled Help in Auto Accident Fault Determination?
The ultimate result of your auto accident claim can rest squarely on the lawyer you choose to represent your interests. When you choose the Dan Makled Law Firm, the auto accident fault determination will no longer be up in the air. Attorney Dan Makled will work hard to prove that the other driver was at fault for your auto accident and that his or her negligence caused your injuries. We realize this can be a difficult time for you. Your injuries may be severe, and you may have lost wages, along with pain and suffering to contend with.
Attorney Dan Makled will never allow the insurance company to bully you or refuse to pay you what your claim is worth. Dan will fight for your rights, your health, and your future. When you choose our law firm, you can rest easy knowing we will aggressively fight for a full, fair settlement. We are professionals who never misplace a file or miss a deadline. You want a committed, compassionate, highly skilled attorney who really cares about your future. Dan Makled is that attorney. Contact the Dan Makled Law Firm today.