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Maximizing the No Fault Insurance Recovery After a Serious Injury Accident in Michigan

Gerlard R Stahl April 28, 2024

Under the Michigan No Fault Act, a driver or owner of a motor vehicle is liable for serious injuries caused by the negligent or careless operation of their motor vehicle. This is commonly referred to under No Fault as a bodily injury claim. In Michigan, every owner of a motor vehicle is obligated to have a No-Fault Insurance Policy. It is a misdemeanor crime to own and operate a vehicle in Michigan that is not insured. If you do not have insurance, you are risking serious life-changing problems. It is not uncommon for Michigan District Courts, like Holland 58th District Court, to sentence people for violations of “No Security”, the common charge for no insurance.

Contact Experienced Auto Accident Attorney:

An injured victim should have an experienced auto accident lawyer to prove their claim and maximize their recovery under Michigan No Fault.


An injury victim must show that the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence.

This article discusses the steps a seriously injured victim must take to achieve the best recovery after an accident in Michigan. There are 2 main prongs to begin the road to financial compensation. The first prong is that the accident must be the fault of the other driver by at least 50%. This means that the other party’s actions while driving have caused or mostly caused the accident. Examples of bad driving include failing to yield at a stop sign, turning in front of another car, driving while intoxicated, crossing the center line, speeding, and being distracted by technology, cell phone, or other circumstances.

For instance, I recently represented a motorcyclist seriously injured in Ottawa County, Michigan. A negligent driver crossed the center line and drove into the North Lane directly into the path of my client’s motorcycle. The crash photos clearly show the automobile driver crossing over the center line and crashing into the side of my client. The photos show the bike’s position in the road as well as the skid marks on the pavement proved liability. I also had a recent auto crash case in Holland Michigan where a fault driver reached for a soda in the car and accidentally crossed the centerline crashing head-on into my client’s vehicle. Causation was clearly established in both these cases.

For the purposes of our further discussion in this article, we will assume that the other driver was 100% at fault and admitted liability.

Serious Injuries:

Establishing that the injured victim is entitled to recovery under Michigan No Fault Insurance.

The injured victim must have threshold injuries under Michigan No Fault to recover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Threshold injuries are a serious impairment of an important body function or permanent disfigurement, or death. MCL 500.3135(1). In McCormick v Carrier, 487 Mich 180, 795 NW2nd 517(2010), the Supreme Court noted that there are 3 prongs necessary to establish serious impairment of a body function: “(1) an objectively manifested impairment (2) an important bodily function that (3) affects the person’s general ability to live his or her normal life. “Impairment need not be permanent to be serious under the Michigan Jury Instructions.

How the Attorney Works to Establish Your Injuries Meet the Threshold Standard.

If you have been seriously injured in a car crash then you establish your case by emergency records, hospital records, surgery records, and doctors’ reports and office notes. Many serious injuries are obvious to the naked eye. One of the requirements is that the injury be objectively manifested. In other words, the injury is evidenced by actual symptoms or conditions that someone other than the injured person would observe as impairing a body function.

The other factors that can help establish the severity of the injury include your inability to perform your regular employment or a change in your ability to live your normal life. For instance, I recently represented a General Motors employee that worked in the Grand Rapids factory. He suffered a severe torn Bicep requiring surgery with a long-term recovery. Consequently, he was unable to perform his duties at his job.

An Important Body Function:

Whether a body function is important is a subjective inquiry that must be decided on a case-by-case basis. This will vary depending on the person. What may seem to be a trivial body function for some people may be extremely important to another. However, some injuries are so severe that by their very nature they would wreak havoc on any person’s life. Examples of serious injuries that arguably meet the threshold are broken bones requiring surgery, torn ligaments, closed head or brain injuries, serious nerve damage, permanent scaring or other injuries that require surgery.

The injuries affect that person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life:

The other requirement to recover pain and suffering under Michigan No Fault is that the injury affects the victim’s ability to lead his or her normal life. It means to have “an influence on some of the person’s capacity to live, or pass life, in his or her normal manner of living.” For instance, an injury causes a homeowner to work in his yard, maintaining his property, or do repairs. An accident victim may lose their ability to play sports, to run marathons or engage in some other activity they enjoyed before the accident.

What Is My Auto Accident Case Worth Once I Have Proved Causation and Established My Injuries in Michigan?

Now comes perhaps the most challenging part of the process, negotiating with the insurance company. The insurance company starts on the premise that they want to pay as little as possible. And they will use every trick in the bag to pay as little as possible.

The first major obstacle is how much bodily injury coverage the at-fault driver possesses on their policy of insurance. For instance, if the at-fault driver only had $100, 000 of bodily injury coverage that means that his insurance company will not pay you more than $100,000, no matter how serious your injury is or how it affects your life. The insurance company has only contracted to pay the amount up to the policy limit.

In that case that the policy limits are low, the injured victim may be able to use his own policy to recover additional money under their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In other words, if you have an extremely serious injury and the at-fault drivers company offers the policy limits of $100, 000 and you have $250,000 of underinsured motorist you could possibly get another $150,000 from your company for a total of $250.000. These negotiations are extremely complex, and you should always have an attorney when negotiating with an insurance company.

Advertisements claiming recovery of millions for client’s normally include high insurance coverage. This would normally be a common carrier or commercial vehicle. For instance, I once worked in a semi tractor trailer accident in Holland, Michigan where the semi-truck had 21 million dollars of coverage. The semi had a series of policies that were tacked on top of each other as umbrella policies. In any case, the client had a serious brain injury, and we were able to achieve a settlement of more than a million dollars.

Gerald R. Stahl is a Trial Lawyer that has represented auto and truck accident victims in Western Michigan for over 40 years. This Blog is intended to discuss the issues No Fault Bodily Injury claims in Michigan and is not intended to give of be construed as legal advice.

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in an auto accident in Michigan, call Gerald R. Stahl or consult