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Not every collision is an accident. Sometimes, someone decides to cause harm through an intentional act. These non-accidents cause problems recovering no-fault benefits.
Michigan’s no-fault law applies to accidental injury. When somebody hurts you because of an intentional act, that isn’t an accident. But whether an act is intentional gets complicated.
Some people are not allowed to receive no-fault benefits. That includes:
“Persons whose injuries are intentional, self-inflicted injuries or caused intentionally by the claimant, since such acts are not accidental.”
Some vehicle-related decisions are clearly intentional acts designed to cause self-harm. In these tragic cases, the family won’t be allowed to recover benefits from their no-fault provider. But not everything you do behind the wheel is the kind of “intentional act” that will cause problems later on. In order to be excluded from benefits, the person filing the insurance claim had to intend the act (like driving or walking in front of the car) and intend the harm that resulted. For example, if you step in front of a car to keep a drunk driver from leaving your party, it may not be an “intentional act” that will cut you off from benefits if the driver fails to stop in time.
Michigan law also carves out an exception to the rule that you can’t receive no-fault benefits for intentional acts. If you intent to drive the way you did because you are trying to avoid harm to yourself, another person, or property, you may still be entitled to benefits under you auto insurance policy. For example, if a child suddenly runs into the road in front of you, your first instinct will be to swerve out of the way. If in doing so, you sideswipe the car next to you and cause yourself harm, you will still be covered.
You can be harmed because of someone else’s intentional act. If someone decides to hit you with his car, run you off the road, or hurt you with her vehicle, you may not know whether you should file an insurance claim. In these “intentional tort” situations, you are allowed to sue the driver directly. But because it’s not always easy to tell whether the harm was intended or just accidental, it’s a good idea to file a no-fault claim too. If you end up recovering damages from the driver, you will have to pay back any benefits received from the insurance company. But depending on the situation, you may get a lot more in damages in your Third Party lawsuit than you would in your insurance claim.
Intentional acts can make a tragic accident even more difficult for you and your family. If you are facing an insurance claim where someone may have acted intentionally, contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Christensen Law. They will help guide you through it.