What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
It’s estimated that 21% of all Michigan drivers do not have the no-fault insurance that’s required by law. This means if you’re in a Michigan car crash, you have a 1 in 5 chance of being unable to receive full compensation for your injuries from the driver who caused your accident. Furthermore, there is a significant risk that people are injured in crashes involving hit-and-run drivers who go unidentified and so no insurance coverage is ever discovered. So how do Michigan drivers protect themselves? By purchasing uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage applies when the injured person is injured by an at-fault driver who does not have coverage to cover the damages they owe the injured person. These claims also apply when a person is injured in a hit-and-run and the driver goes unidentified and no insurance coverage is ever found.
In most of these cases, the injured person pursues uninsured motorist coverage with their own insurance provider. In essence, the injured party’s insurance company “fills the shoes” of the uninsured motorist and pays the claim. If the injured person did not purchase uninsured motorist coverages but was a passenger in a vehicle that was covered by uninsured motorist coverage, the injured person may be covered under that policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage operates much like underinsured motorist coverage, which comes into play when the other driver does have insurance, but it’s insufficient to fully pay the injured person’s damages. Uninsured and underinsured coverage are optional and are not required to be included in Michigan auto insurance policies. Also, these claims are always decided upon the specific terms and conditions set forth in the insurance policy.
What damages can be recovered in a Michigan uninsured motorist claim?
The damages that can be recovered in a Michigan uninsured motorist claim are typically the same as the damages that can be recovered against an at-fault driver in a liability negligent claim. Just as would be the case in the liability negligence claim against the at-fault driver, the damages recoverable in Michigan uninsured motorist claims can include damages for the injured person’s pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life suffered as a result of their injuries. It is important to note that under Michigan law, pain and suffering damage claims are subject to special rules and are not available to those who are not seriously injured.
Furthermore, the damages recoverable in a Michigan uninsured motorist claim can also include claims or expenses that exceed the amount of PIP benefits allowed under the injured person’s own Michigan no-fault insurance policy.
Michigan residents injured in auto accidents can typically recover personal protection insurance (PIP) no-fault benefits from their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the crash. These benefits include coverage for medical expenses up to three years of coverages for their accident-related income loss. To the extent that the injured person’s medical expenses and income loss claims are payable through Michigan no-fault insurance coverage, those medical expenses and income loss claims are not recoverable in the Michigan uninsured motorist claim. However, if the injured person’s medical expenses exceed their capped no-fault medical expense coverage, the excess can be made part of the uninsured motorist claim. This is also the case for income loss that exceeds the three-year maximum available through their no-fault insurance coverage.
Non-Michigan residents injured into auto accidents no longer have any right to no-fault PIP benefits, unless they happen to own a vehicle that is registered in Michigan and insured with Michigan auto insurance. Accordingly, most non-Michigan residents have to pursue all their damages from the at-fault driver. Therefore, when an at-fault driver has no insurance, it is even more important for the non-Michigan resident to pursue any uninsured motorist claims that may be available to them for their injuries.
Uninsured motorist coverage is optional insurance that is relatively inexpensive and highly recommended.
Do I need an attorney to handle an uninsured motorist claim?
Injured people can try to handle their own uninsured motorist claim, but we do not advise doing so. There are many technical requirements and rules that must be followed. The insurance company may not always have your best interest in mind. It is best to hire attorneys experienced in handling these claims so that the best possible result can be obtained and without unnecessary stress and burden on your and your family. Our team of auto accident attorneys at Sinas Dramis Law Firm have the experience and skills necessary to successfully handle uninsured motorist claims throughout Michigan.