Who’s karma did I step on?

In mid-December, I was in a fender-bender with an older gentleman in a parking lot. The accident put a small hole in his bumper. Well, he’s calling me now at work saying that I owe him $500 (his deductible) or he’ll sue me for it.

What makes this so bad is that in Michigan, we have what I thought was “no-fault” insurance. In truth, it isn’t. As it turns out, there is something called “Mini-tort”. Under no-fault, a driver can only be sued under certain circumstances, such as:

  • If he or she causes an accident in which someone is killed or seriously injured, or
  • If he or she in involved in an accident in Michigan with a non-resident who is an occupant of a motor vehicle not registered in Michigan, or
  • If he or she is involved in an accident in another state where lawsuits are permitted.

The limited property damage liability, or “mini-tort”, provision of the no-fault law creates another situation in which you can sue or be sued. If you are 50% or more at fault in an accident, and damages to the other driver’s car are not completely covered by his or her insurance, you may be sued and my have to pay up to $500 in damages. This also means that you may sue the other driver for damages to your car which are not covered by your insurance if the other driver is 50% or more at fault.

Insurance companies usually offer this coverage as an optional coverage which you may purchase for an extra cost. They don’t like to tell you about it because it costs them more than they make on it. For example, it would have only cost $7.00 more to have that coverage on my policy. As you can tell, this means I didn’t have the coverage.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. When it rains, it pours…

  • It’s been a while since I lived in or had Michigan insurance, but don’t you have some coverage for uninsured motorists? Seems like his deductible is ‘uninsurance’. I wonder if you can submit the claim to your insurance…. what’s your deductible? Might not make a difference if it’s the same. If you’re like I was, though, yours is probably 500 anyway. Assuming there’s damage to your car too, at least you could avoid paying $500 twice if you could claim it.

    Talk to your agent. Better yet, ask an insurance broker who isn’t married to one insurer. You’re more likely to get the straight poop.

    Best of luck Ray… that’s no fun. Old people and their threats of lawsuits are a recurring theme from my time in MI. The local communities need to invest more in recreational activities for the aged so they don’t have to resort to tormenting others with lawsuits….

  • Jerry, thanks for the advice. I actually had no damage to my vehicle, and his damage was minor (or so I thought).

    I think that I’ll give a lawyer a call also, just in case…