Those who disagree with me often accuse me of bias. Perhaps this is true. After all, I help the people who depend on No Fault. For nearly 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand the consequences of what happens to people and their families after serious automobile accidents. And as President of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association for the last two years, I’ve traveled around the nation educating lawyers who handle car accident litigation; so I’ve been able to compare Michigan to many other states.
It’s a fair question. What’s so bad about capping No Fault PIP? And as an insurance lawyer, it’s a question I hear often.
A recent question on Michigan Auto Law’s Facebook page reminded me that I’ve never answered this question on this blog. Essentially, the question was what’s so wrong about capping No Fault PIP and medical benefits at $10,000 or $50,000 in this state.
State Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes (D-Saginaw) and former State Rep. Jim Howell (Saginaw County) have been outspoken about their opposition to recent No Fault “reform” proposals. And for Mr. Howell, it’s personal.
His son, Sam Howell was in a car crash in February 2005 that put him in a coma for more than a year. He had a 3% chance of survival. Sam cannot walk on his own. He has a traumatic brain injury that affects how he communicates with people.
This past month, Michigan’s No Fault insurance laws were in the cross hairs, with plans introduced to drastically change parts of it introduced by House Speaker Jase Bolger and Sen. John Pappageorge. I’ve put together an informative chart that compares the similarities and big differences between the different proposals (including the earlier plan strongly backed by Gov. Rick Snyder and Rep. Pete Lund).
The plans I compared include:
Attorneys who represent auto accident victims in this state have long suspected that the deck is stacked against their clients when they take their case before the Michigan Supreme Court.
Those suspicions are now confirmed, according to an excellent and timely new study by the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN), “Analysis of Michigan Supreme Court cases decided under the Michigan No-Fault Act within the past 10 years.”
Significantly, here’s what CPAN found:
The saying is: “You get what you pay for.”
With respect to the “Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Pilot Program” proposed by House Speaker Jase Bolger and the House Republicans in their latest No Fault “reform” draft plan called Substitute for HB 4612, it’s probable that folks who buy into the low cost pilot program will not even be that lucky.
Here’s why (the page numbers below refer to the full, 91-page draft bill):
Given the “witch hunt”-nature of the provisions targeted at medical providers in Speaker Bolger’s and the House Republicans’ latest No Fault “reform” plan called Substitute for HB 4612, it’ll be a miracle if every doctor, hospital, clinic, therapist or other professional who currently treats auto accident victims won’t be scared off.
But then again, maybe that’s part of the plan!
House Speaker Jase Bolger isn’t very familiar with the No Fault law as it currently exists, as evidenced by a recent conversation I had with him online in response to his editorial in The Detroit News on his proposed No Fault insurance “reform” plan.
Sadly, it looks like the Republican speaker and his press secretary aren’t very familiar with the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution, either.
House Speaker Jase Bolger’s “Substitute for HB 4612″ will make litigation even more difficult for car accident victims when they must hire a lawyer to challenge wrongful denials and/or illegal cut-offs of No Fault PIP insurance benefits.
Bolger’s plan has many new and devastating restrictions on the legal rights of injured crash victims to seek No Fault insurance benefits when an insurance company refuses to pay valid claims or wrongfully cuts people off from medical care, wage loss and attendant care.
As I wrote yesterday, the ideas put forth under Speaker Bolger’s Substitute for HB 4612 will make it harder for crash victims to recover PIP benefits they desperately need. And it will make it easier for insurers to deny a legitimate claim.