Comparative Negligence in Michigan

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is a comparative negligence state. This means drivers can recover their property damages from the other driver’s
car insurance
up to the percentage of fault assigned to the other driver. 
Comparative negligence laws can be different in each state, but they all affect how much each driver will need to cover after an accident. Familiarizing yourself with the state laws will be beneficial for handling your insurance claims properly.
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What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal term that determines how much of the cost can be recovered by each party, depending on the fault they are assigned.
As an example, if you are found to be 20% at fault, you will have to cover 20% of the damages of the other driver. In the same vein, the other driver with 80% of the fault will have to cover 80% of your damages.
Comparative negligence principles come into play when personal injury lawsuits and third-party insurances are being assessed. The blame is assigned to all parties involved based on the evidence collected and they will be responsible for covering their percentage of assigned fault.

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence

Pure comparative negligence, partial or modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence are three principles under comparative negligence. Depending on your state, the law will follow one of the principles: 
  • Pure comparative negligence: All drivers assigned blame will be responsible for that percentage of damage costs. 
  • Partial or modified comparative negligence: Only drivers who are assigned under 50 or 51% of the blame can claim for their damages. 
  • Contributory negligence: The injured party will only recover damage costs if they are assigned zero fault. 
The pure comparative negligence principle is followed by 12 states and the contributory negligence principle is followed by 5 states.

What is Michigan’s comparative negligence law? 

Michigan state laws
follow the modified comparative negligence doctrine. You will be able to claim damages according to the fault assigned to the other driver, but you won't be able to sue for non-economic damages if your fault exceeds the other driver's (i.e. if you were 50% or more at fault).
For example, if the other driver is assigned 60% fault, you will be able to submit a claim to the other driver’s insurance for 60% of your damages. On the other hand, the other driver will be able to submit a claim to your insurance for 40% of their damages.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties? 

If more than two parties are responsible for the accident, the fault will be assigned to all drivers involved.  You will be able to file a claim with either or both insurance companies and the compensation amount will be based on the fault assigned to each driver. 

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case?

The insurance companies will consider all the evidence submitted with the claim before fault is assigned.
Writing down all the details at the scene and including them with your claim will be beneficial. Pay special attention to recording the time and date of the accident, road and weather conditions, and the details of the cars involved. You should also get the information of the drivers involved so that you have a way to contact them if needed.
Witness statements and photos of the damages would be great to include with your claim to back up your testimony.
Submitting these details will help the insurers more accurately assign the fault, especially if you were not responsible for the accident.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence? 

As a pure comparative negligence state, Michigan drivers can recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company as long as they are not 100% at fault. The compensation received will be based on the percentage of fault the other driver is assigned.
Imagine a collision scenario where you are going through an intersection and get hit by another driver who didn’t stop at the red light.
After considering all the evidence submitted, the insurance companies found that the other driver was speeding and was using their phone. They also found that you were driving according to the rules. As a result, the insurance companies assign the other driver 100% fault, and you are assigned 0% fault.
Under Michigan’s pure comparative negligence law, you will be able to claim 100% of your damages from the other driver, whereas the other driver will not be entitled to any claims for his damages.
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Yes. This is because premiums are calculated based on your demographics, car, driving record, and more. Unfortunately, you will see an average of a 20% increase in your insurance premiums if you are involved in an at-fault accident.
By Tiffany Leung
Expert Insurance Writer
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear.
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