What You Need To Know
When you or a loved one has been injured in a rental car accident in Michigan, you may be able to sue both the rental car driver and the rental car company for compensation, economic damages and vehicle damage repair costs. The rental company’s liability will depend on whether it owns the vehicle and the duration of the vehicle rental.
You will also be able to recover No-Fault PIP benefits from your own auto insurance company to help you pay for your accident-related medical bills and wage loss.
Can I recover pain and suffering compensation after a rental car accident?
In Michigan, you can recover pain and suffering compensation if you were injured in a rental car accident that was not your fault. You will first need to prove that the driver of the rental vehicle was at-fault and that your injuries caused you to suffer a “serious impairment of body function” under Michigan’s bodily injury threshold law.
In a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation, you may also be able to recover “excess” No-Fault benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages that are not otherwise covered by your auto insurance policy or that exceed the PIP cap of the amount of No-Fault PIP insurance you had selected prior to your automobile crash.
Proving the rental vehicle driver was at-fault is required under Michigan’s auto law to prove negligence, meaning that the rental vehicle driver caused the crash by failing to drive with “ordinary care” such that a reasonably careful driver would use behind the wheel in similar circumstances.
Proving that you suffered a “serious impairment of body function” means showing that your injuries impaired a “an important body function” which affected your “general ability to lead” your normal life. (MCL 500.3135(5))
Under Michigan’s unique No-Fault auto insurance law, automobile crash victims can only sue for pain and suffering compensation if they have suffered a “serious impairment of body function.” This is the legal tort threshold to recover for “noneconomic” damages.
Who is responsible for a rental car in an accident in Michigan?
The parties who may be responsible for a rental car accident in Michigan include the driver and possibly also the rental company. This is a factual analysis that includes: (1) the company’s liability coverage; and (2) the lease terms and duration of the vehicle rental.
If the negligent rental vehicle driver who caused the crash in Michigan has his or her own auto insurance policy, then the liability coverage in that auto policy will usually provide coverage. The same is true if the rental vehicle driver does not have his or her own policy, but a resident relative of the driver does. Either way, coverage will depend on the terms of the policy.
Additionally, if the rental vehicle driver purchased “supplemental liability protection” insurance when he or she rented the vehicle, then that will be a source of additional liability coverage for the driver. This rental vehicle coverage is commonly offered with a $1 million limit.
Under Michigan’s “owner liability” law, the rental vehicle company may be held liable along with the rental vehicle driver for your injuries that were caused by the driver’s negligence. (MCL 257.401(1)) The rental vehicle company’s liability as an “owner” applies so long as the rental was for 30 days or less and the driver was the “authorized driver” under the rental agreement (or the driver was a member of the authorized driver’s immediate family). (MCL 257.401(3))
Importantly, the rental vehicle company’s liability is often limited to $20,000/$40,000 unless it can be shown the company was negligent in renting the vehicle to the driver or there is specific language in a lease or rental contract that includes higher liability insurance limits. (MCL 257.401(3))
Can I get No-Fault benefits after a rental car accident in Michigan?
After a rental car accident in Michigan, you may be able to recover No-Fault benefits to pay your crash-related medical bills and lost wages. Within one (1) year of the crash, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits with the responsible auto insurance company.
The responsible auto insurer may be your own or the insurance company for your spouse or a relative who lives in your home. If coverage is not available from any of those sources, then you will need to apply for benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.
The 1-year filing deadline for the application for No-Fault benefits is very, very important. If you do not file on time, then your rights to collect No-Fault benefits will be terminated. You will be prohibited from making a claim and/or suing the insurance company. This deadline must be complied with.
In addition to paying your medical bills and reimbursing you for wages you lost out on because your injuries disabled you from returning to work, No-Fault PIP benefits will also cover your transportation costs for traveling to and from your medical appointments and attendant care services.
However, the amount of benefits you are able to recover will depend on the No-Fault medical benefits coverage level selected in the policy through which you are claiming benefits.
Who pays for your vehicle damage?
When your car or truck has been damaged in a rental car accident in Michigan, your vehicle damage repair costs may be covered by your own collision coverage insurance. You may be able to recover up to $3,000 (for damages not covered by your insurance) from the at-fault driver or vehicle owner under the Michigan mini tort law.
What should you do after a rental car accident in Michigan?
Both you and the rental vehicle driver need to stop at the scene of the crash and exchange information. Michigan law requires it. Failure to do so can lead to criminal charges for hit and run. At the scene, you must exchange information including your driver’s license number, proof of insurance, and contact information for the vehicle owners.
Importantly, you and the rental vehicle driver are legally required to assist in securing medical aid for anyone who was injured in the crash. (MCL 257.619(c))
Who should I tell about my injuries?
Make sure you report all of your injuries to the first responders at the scene of your rental car accident in Michigan and to all of the medical personnel you encounter at the emergency room. This will ensure that you receive prompt and necessary medical attention. Reporting all of your injuries as close in time to the date of your crash will also make it harder for an insurance company to deny that your injuries were caused by the crash if your claim is later contested or disputed.
Were you injured in a rental car accident in Michigan? Call the auto accident attorneys at Michigan Auto Law
If you or a loved one was injured in a rental car accident in Michigan and you have questions about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and auto No-Fault insurance benefits, you can speak to an experienced auto accident lawyer at (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced No-Fault insurance attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.