Michigan Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

Michigan drivers suffer approximately a thousand car accident deaths every year, making Michigan roads about average in terms of safety. Michigan, like other U.S. states, allows injured victims to file personal injury lawsuits against culpable parties. An estate administrator may also file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a deceased victim’s estate. Some of the most important features of the Michigan car accident legal regime appear below.

Statute of Limitations: You have until the third anniversary of the crash to file a personal injury or property damage lawsuit, and until the third anniversary of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

When the Victim is Partly at Fault: Michigan is a modified comparative fault state. If the victim is found by the court to be partially at fault for the accident, the court will deduct a corresponding amount from the plaintiff’s damages (35 percent, for example). If the victim is found to be more than 50 percent at fault, however, he will receive nothing and may even have to pay the other party damages.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Michigan is a “no-fault” auto insurance state – your own insurance policy is your primary insurer, unless someone died in the accident or your injury resulted in serious impairment or disfigurement

Minimum Insurance Coverage: Michigan drivers must purchase auto insurance with coverage limits of no less than 20/40/10 — $20,000 per victim, $40,000 per accident and $10,000 for property damage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers Coverage: Michigan does not require its drivers to purchase uninsured or underinsured driver insurance policies, although such policies are available to drivers who desire them.

Types of Damages Available: Although compensatory damages are available, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are limited to $280,000, except in the case of certain extremely serious injuries

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: Strict liability claims can be brought against both manufacturers and sellers of defective products.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): Although it is possible to sue the Michigan state government for money damages for a defective roadway, not all such claims are accepted (the law is complex), and non-economic damages are impossible absent death or serious injury.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: All riders under 21 must wear helmets.

Seat Belt Laws: All occupants 16 and older must wear seat belts while sitting in the front seat. The maximum first-offense fine is $25.

Dram Shop Law: Both licensed alcohol vendors and social hosts face third-party liability for serving underage drinkers. Vendors face limited liability for serving obviously intoxicated adults. Third-party liability kicks in when a vendor or social host serves alcohol to a patron who then proceeds to injure a third party due to his intoxication (in a DUI accident, for example).

DUI/DWI Penalties (first offense): Jail time of up to 93 days is possible, along with a fine of between $100 and $500 and a driver’s license suspension of up to six months.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): All drivers on Michigan roads are banned from texting while driving. On-duty school bus drivers and drivers on Level 1 and Level II driver’s licenses are banned from using cell phones (whether or not hand-held) while driving.