Walled Lake, MI asked in Car Accidents for Michigan

Q: Does the value of a car before an accident matter in a mini tort lawsuit?

I am at fault, and did not have limited liability coverage. The driver I rear ended does not carry collision. He is suing me for the $3000 tort claim. His repairs are over $6000 but the car is only worth $1000 to $2000. Does this factor in at all?

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3 Lawyer Answers
Randy Bryan Ligh
Randy Bryan Ligh
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Baton Rouge, LA

A: Based on your post, the value of the vehicle does not make difference as to the amount of your potential personal liability for his property damage. But you will have to prove that the fair market value of the claimant's vehicle at the time of the accident is such that this should be a total loss. Good luck.

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Little Neck, NY

A: Until you are able to speak with a local attorney, the practice applied by property damage adjusters in most places is to set a cap on the repairs as a percentage of the vehicle value. After a certain percentage, the vehicle would usually be declared a total loss, to avoid the exact kind of situation you describe, where repairs would amount to twice the market value of the vehicle. Again, a local attorney could advise best about state-specific laws. What I've written is a short description about the usual approach followed by PD adjusters in most jurisdictions nationwide. Good luck

Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
Answered
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Michigan's auto insurance scheme is somewhat unique to Michigan. For purposes of mini tort, the value of the car makes no difference. What matters is the person's out-of-pocket costs, subject to the percentage of fault, and limited to $3,000. Commonly, mini-tort is used to compensate someone for the deductible they have to may or their payout is lessened by; in most cases, this is $1,000.

In your case, it's certainly possible that the other person's insurance totaled the car, and may have only paid out $1,500. You may still be subject to the other $1,500 to the extent they had to come up with that amount to purchase a new (used) car.

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