The big difference

You probably don't think twice when you cross the state line between Michigan and Ohio by car. Many people live in one state and commute to the other every day and it hardly seems to make any difference at all.

If you have an accident in Michigan but your car is insured in Ohio, however, things can be very complicated. The same is true in reverse. Most insurance carriers are well aware of the issues and can take care of a lot for you. But if you or a loved one have been injured over the line it's important to have good counsel to help you through it.

Michigan has a no fault system for determining liability. An insurance policy taken out in Michigan is required to pay out to the insured for an accident regardless of who might be at fault.

In Ohio, an √Ęt fault system is used. That means that the person who is determined to be at fault, and their insurance, has to cover all expenses.

The difference is an important one in the event of a reportable accident. In both states, that is any accident which has resulted in injury, death, or more than $1,000 in damages. With today's cars, that is going to be most accidents.

What it means to you

The laws of the state where the accident occurred are the most important. An Ohio resident who has an accident in Michigan is probably going to be covered, as long as their insurance is recognized under Michigan laws.

Most policies taken out in the Toledo area are going to have this covered, but if you were issued a policy by an out-of-town broker you should ask them. Michigan's no-fault insurance is very specific. The insurance carrier is going to handle the claims in all cases, and a lawsuit is not generally allowed.

A Michigan resident who has an accident in Ohio has to be even more aware. Because it is an at-fault state, an accident in Ohio may need to be litigated to determine who is liable for the claim.

What do you do?

If you have an accident in Michigan, you should contact your insurance company and await their instructions. Do not talk to any other insurance company unless they tell you to.

If you have an accident in Ohio, the same applies. But if you have been injured and are going to make a claim against the other party's insurance, you should consult with an Ohio-based personal injury attorney first. Based on your situation, they may have good advice on not just filing a suit, but also how to answer questions from the other party's insurance.

In all cases, stay safe and avoid an accident when possible, and check with your insurance company to be sure your coverage meets the needs of any state you visit regularly.


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