Michigan Comparative Negligence Laws
Comparative negligence is a defense that is used to reduce the amount of damages an accident victim can receive. We use a modified comparative negligence rule that says you can seek damages even if you had some fault in the accident. However, that same rule can also eliminate your ability to collect damages for injuries and losses at all.
The 51 Percent Rule
Under Michigan law, you can seek to recover damages for motor vehicle accidents even if you played a role in the accident. However, your percentage of fault can’t be higher than the person who hit you or you will be banned from collecting damages. This rule says that you can seek to recover damages even if you are partially at fault for the accident, but the amount of damages will be reduced by whatever your percentage of fault.
For example, if you are rear-ended while sitting at red light, you can probably recover 100 percent of the damages you are seeking. But if you are rear-ended while slowing to make an illegal turn, you may be found 30 percent at fault for the accident, so the amount of money you can collect will be reduced by 30 percent.
But, the law also stipulates that no person seeking damages can be more than 50 percent at fault for an accident, or they will not be able to collect any damages. This rule applies to injuries sustained in an accident as well as vehicle damages under the mini-tort law.
Comparative Negligence and No-Fault Laws
All Michigan vehicle owners are required to carry basic no-fault insurance on all registered vehicles. This insurance provides limitless benefits to the vehicle owner no matter who is at fault for an injurious or damaging accident. The idea behind no-fault benefit is to reduce car accident lawsuits and victims having to wait for the compensation they need. However, in cases of serious injury and death the victim or their family can file a lawsuit against the driver, and in these cases, a comparative negligence defense can reduce the damages the victim or their family will receive.
Comparative negligence can also be used as a defense in vehicle damage cases under Michigan’s mini-tort laws which allows you to seek up to $1,000 in property damage claims after an accident.