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Applying comparative fault to uninsured motorist cases

For those in Wayne County who have been involved in car accidents, the first fear that many have is that the other driver involved is uninsured. Those fears may be well founded; after all, the Insurance Information Institute reports that as recently as 2012, 21 percent of Michigan’s motorists were uninsured, giving the state the fifth highest percentage of such drivers in the country.

Those who are involved in accidents with uninsured drivers will typically look to the uninsured motorist provisions of their policies to provide them with the financial compensation needed to deal with the expenses associated with their accidents. Such claims are normally handled in the same manner as regular insurance claims. As is the case with standard claims, there may be limiting factors that could place a cap on the amount that one may recover from their insurance. Chief among these factors is the idea of comparative negligence.

Two philosophies are looked to when determining accident liability: comparative and contributory negligence. If the idea of contributory negligence is followed, one may be barred from collecting any sort of compensation of it is determined that he or she contributed to his or her accident at all. Comparative negligence, on the other hand, assigns compensation based upon the percentage of liability in an accident one is determined to have. Michigan, as a state, follows the comparative negligence principle.

When collecting compensation through an uninsured motorist provision of an insurance policy, the amount one receives is determined by his or her comparative negligence. If he or she pursues further action against the other driver, Michigan state law also limits compensation based upon his or her comparative fault. If his or her fault is greater than that of the other driver, he or she is only allowed to seek economic damages. 

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