Hit & Run and Underinsured Motorist Crashes
Despite 2019 amendments to the Michigan No-Fault Act that were supposed to make automobile insurance less expensive for Michigan drivers, the fact remains that a considerable amount of vehicles on Michigan roadways are not covered by automobile insurance or have inadequate coverage to compensate our injured clients. For whatever reason, we have seen an incredible uptick in the number of hit-and-run crashes coming through our law firm. These incidents occur when another vehicle hits a vehicle, pedestrian or motorcyclist and leaves the accident scene before he/she can be identified. When an individual is struck by a hit-and-run vehicle, the victim will usually have a claim for Michigan Personal Injury Protection benefits (PIP) These benefits include payment for medical expenses, assistance with activities of daily living, wage loss, medical transportation, etc. There could also be claims for pain and suffering if the injured victim was covered under an insurance policy that provided for uninsured motorist benefits.Michigan No-Fault Claims Following Hit-And-Run Accident
Insurance coverage for Michigan PIP benefits after a hit-and-run crash depends on your status at the time of the incident. If you were the operator of a motor vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist, or on an "off road vehicle" the first priority insurer would be that of the injured person. If he or she did not have insurance, next in line to pay would be the insurer of the victim's spouse or relative relative domiciled in the same house. If no relative had auto insurance either, the injured victim's benefits would be paid by the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan with a cap of only $250,000. Different priorities exist for motorcycles, company cars, busses, etc. with the last resort always being the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.Uninsured Motorist Claims Following Hit-And-Run Accident
Some automobile insurers offer "Uninsured Motorist Coverage" which takes the place of the liability insurance the hit-and-run vehicle was supposed to have had. If covered under such a policy, the injured victim can make a claim to collect damages for pain and suffering and excess economic loss from the insurer providing the uninsured motorist coverage, rather than the hit-and-run driver. In most cases, and depending on the insurance policy provisions, you would need to prove the same things under the uninsured motorist policy as you would if the at-fault driver had been identified:
- That the uninsured driver was negligent
- That the plaintiff was injured
- That the negligence of the uninsured driver was a proximate cause of injury to the plaintiff
- That plaintiff’s injury resulted in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement
This coverage is relatively inexpensive and we advise all our clients to try and add this coverage to their policies so they are protected in the event they are struck by an uninsured driver.Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Michigan law requires motorists to carry bodily injury coverage to compensate victims that are injured in automobile accidents as a result of another driver’s negligence. In 2019, the minimum limits of this mandatory coverage rose from only $20,000; an amount entirely inadequate to compensate severely injured victims of automobile accidents to a default minimum of $250,000 unless certain other criteria are met. Some insurance companies offer the option of purchasing Underinsured Motorist Coverage which allows you to receive full compensation from your own insurance company when the negligent driver that caused your injuries has the minimum or inadequate insurance coverage.
To obtain these benefits, the at-fault driver must tender its policy limits to the crash victim. Depending on the policy language, the crash victim would then need to obtain the approval of the settlement with the at-fault driver's insurance company and then pursue the underinsured portion of the benefits. For example, assume the at-fault driver only had $250,000 of liability insurance and the crash victim had $500,000 of underinsured motorist coverage. If settlement was reached and consented to with the at-fault-driver for $250,000, the injured victim would have an additional $250,000 he / she could claim from the underinsured policy for the total of $500,000. Insurance companies regularly dispute payment of this coverage so it is important to discuss this matter with a knowledgeable attorney.
With insurance companies continuing to unilaterally raise their rates, many motorists simply operate vehicles without insurance. Because of the prevalence of hit and run accidents and accidents with uninsured and underinsured motorists in the Detroit-Metro area, it is important that you obtain these coverages from your own automobile insurance carrier. Please note that several major automobile insurers within the state do not offer this optional coverage and you should check your policy to make sure you are covered. With this coverage in effect, you can then collect the same benefits and compensation from your own insurance company that you would have from the hit and run and, uninsured and/or underinsured driver. While these types of accidents can be complex, an attorney that fully understands the law can be of great benefit in obtaining the compensation you deserve. Contact the Davis Law Center for a free consultation.Free Consultation
For a thorough case review for personal injury and accidents in the State of Michigan, click here or simply call 248-865-7740 to schedule a consultation.