A new Court of Appeals ruling says family members providing attendant care to injured must be compensated what agencies pay their employees for comparable services — instead of what agencies charge
Michigan attendant care lawyers are predicting a drastic setback for families providing attendant care to loved ones who have suffered catastrophic injuries in car accidents. Specifically, we are expecting Michigan auto insurance companies to aggressively reduce the hourly rates they compensate people providing attendant care to injured family members.
In Bonkowski v. Allstate Insurance Company, the Court questioned a precedent Michigan courts have followed for more than 20 years: Michigan no-fault law says that people providing in-home attendant care services for family members who have been injured in auto accidents are entitled to reasonable compensation. Thus, Manley v. DAIIE said juries can consider the rates that health care agencies charge for similar services when deciding how much the insured person’s family member should be compensated for providing attendant care in Michigan.
Unfortunately, the unanimous decision Bonkowski goes against two decades of Michigan law, contending, “The focus should be on the compensation provided to the person providing the services, not the charge assessed by an agency that hires health care professionals to provide such services.” Therefore, as attendant care lawyers, we may have to adapt and base our compensation arguments on the rates that health care agencies pay their employees who provide the services.
If Bonkowski stands, the injured will suffer, because agency rates are higher than the amounts agencies pay their employees. Essentially, the Court — and the defense bar — is shorting people of the funds they need to care for their injured loved ones.
We believe many Michigan automobile insurance companies leaning on Bonkowski will now try to drastically reduce attendant care hourly rates for people who provide attendant care to family members. This means people injured in car accidents in Michigan could lose tens of thousands of dollars in no-fault benefits needed for attendant care.
In Bonkowski, the agency rate issues arose when deciding whether Andrew Bonkowski had received reasonable compensation for the 24-hour attendant care he provided to his son, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident. Andrew Bonkowski wanted an increased rate from the $19 an hour his no-fault insurer Allstate was paying him.
But Bonkowski Could be Reversed
However, there is also hope that Bonkowski will be reversed by a new Michigan Supreme Court, especially now that Justice Cliff Taylor recently lost his re-election bid to Judge Diane Hathaway. Hopefully, this will return Michigan attendant care law back to the way it has been construed for over the past 20 years.
To our lawyer readers, we urge you to aggressively fight the insurance companies when they attempt to cut the attendant care rates for people you are helping. We can never stop fighting for those who will be harmed by Bonkowski, and we must continue to find and create ways to help seriously injured Michigan residents receive attendant care no-fault benefits.
If you’ve been in a car accident and are seeking no-fault benefits including attendant care, please watch the video below, where senior partner Larry Gursten discusses basic facts about attendant care.
Michigan Attendant Care Home Modifications
Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights.