Filing a Mini-Tort Claim in Michigan

Auto accidents are common and can be quite stressful to handle. In 2017 alone, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning reported 314,921 crashes in Michigan. This translates to a traffic crash being reported every 1 minute and 40 seconds. If you were involved in an auto accident, and your vehicle was damaged, it’s best to know how to protect your rights. A mini-tort claim can be filed against the driver at fault.

UPDATE : Governor Gretchen Whitmer Signed Michigan’s New Reformed No-Fault Insurance Law and the dollar amount for a mini-tort recovery will increase from $1000 to $3000 on July 2, 2020.  Read our blog post discussing the details here.

Basics of a Mini-Tort

The No-Fault Act of Michigan includes a coverage known as limited property damage, under which a mini tort claim is based. A mini tort claim allows a victim of an auto accident to recover from the at-fault driver for only up to $1000 for vehicle damage, to the extent that the damage is not covered by the victim’s insurance.  For instance, your car was rear-ended by another car. However, you are covered only by a PLDP or standard insurance, and not collision coverage. To cover the significant damage to your car, you may resort to a mini tort claim against the other driver.

A mini-tort claim must comply with the following conditions:

  • As the claimant, you must not be more than 50% at fault. If you are deemed to be more than 50% at fault, you are barred from filing a mini tort claim.
  • Your vehicle was physically damaged.
  • Your vehicle must be covered by a Michigan no-fault insurance.
  • The at-fault driver must be identified. If the at-fault driver is not known, the damages aren’t covered by a mini tort because the coverage is from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
  • Your insurance company does not cover the damages to your vehicle. This means that the at-fault driver has to pay your deductible up to the maximum amount of $1000.

You have three years from the date of the auto accident to file a mini-tort claim. Usually, these cases fall under the small claims court, but either party may ask that the case be transferred to a higher jurisdiction.

Determination of Compensation

Based on Sec. 3135(4) of the No-Fault Act, compensation is determined through comparative fault. This means that the amount of your fault is weighed against the amount of fault of the other driver. For example, the damage to your car amounts to $1000. The other driver was deemed 60% at fault, while you were deemed 40% at fault. In this case, you’ll recover only $600 from the at-fault driver, and you’ll be responsible for the remaining $400.

Your deductible will also factor into the total amount you can receive under a mini tort claim. If your deductible is lower than $1000, then that amount would be your maximum claim. For instance, let’s say your deductible is $500. You can recover only $500 from the other party.

You can’t recover an amount higher than $1000, even if the damage to your vehicle was greater than such amount and the accident was completely the fault of the negligent driver. A mini tort is not meant to cover all the damage to your vehicle. Its purpose is merely to compensate you for incidental, out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident. Under Michigan’s No-Fault Act, vehicle owners are free to purchase their own collision coverage.

Exclusions of a Mini-Tort Claim

The mini tort law applies only to accidents involving motor vehicles. That said, the following are excluded from a mini tort claim:

  • Injuries or death

Unfortunately, if you or your loved ones were injured in an auto crash, you cannot claim compensation under a mini tort claim. You will have to file a personal injury or a wrongful death lawsuit.

  • Motorcycle damage

Under the Michigan No Fault Act, motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles. It covers damage only to cars or trucks. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, and the motorcycle owner has collision coverage, a collision claim can be made with his or her insurance company.

Contact Us For Help With Your Mini-Tort Case!

If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and your vehicle was damaged, you may be eligible to file a mini tort claim. Our top-rated auto accident lawyers will guide you throughout your case and help you get just compensation for the damage to your vehicle. Contact us today at +1 (517) 347-6900 or fill out our form, and let’s settle your auto accident case as soon as we can.  No fees unless you win!