Michigan Mini Tort Claims – Recovering Vehicle Damage Costs in a Car Accident

What is Mini-Tort?

Michigan’s no-fault laws do not require collision coverage. That is where the limited property damage liability or mini-tort provision comes into play. Limited property damage liability, known as the mini-tort exception allows for Michigan accident victims to recover up to $500 of their vehicle repair costs under certain circumstances. The purpose is to compensate a person involved in a car accident that was not at-fault for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the collision. Michigan mini tort law is premised upon people being free to purchase their own collision coverage. If an individual has existing collision coverage, the full vehicle repair costs from the accident will be paid from that policy. However, even if someone has collision coverage, he can still make a mini tort claim for incidental, out-of-pocket expenses such as a deductible. There are varying degrees of collision insurance, but generally speaking it covers the cost of repairs to the driver’s own vehicle.

How do you qualify and what can be collected?
If you are without collision coverage on your car, or your coverage is limited, and you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you can recoup some of your out-of-pocket costs to fix your car via the mini-tort. How much you can recover depends on how much fault you bear. For example, let’s say the damage to your car amounts to $100 and the other driver is deemed 75 percent at fault for the accident. Then he or she would pay $75. These cases are normally handled in a small claims court, but either party involved in the car crash may ask to have the case moved up to a higher jurisdiction.

How do you file a Mini-Tort claim?
To recover vehicle damage costs, you can write a letter to the insurance company of the person who caused the accident, and request the money. Include the police report proving the person who caused the accident was at-fault; a declaration sheet from your own insurance company showing your coverage; and an estimate of vehicle repairs and/or photos including the license plate. You have three years from the date of the car accident to file a mini tort lawsuit or collect your mini tort claim. After three years, your claim will be time-barred and you will be unable to collect your mini tort claim under Michigan law.