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What medical care and insurance coverage is available for passengers in a train crash?

No-Fault benefits are best if the train accident involved a car or a truck, as the recent Amtrak train accident did, says Michigan accident attorney

Our accident attorneys are still receiving inquiries from train passengers involved in the Amtrak train crash with the semi-truck in early February. I thought I would post a question from one of the train accident victims and our answer, regarding the best option for medical care and insurance coverage.

Q. I was in the train crash Feb. l, 2012 and would like more information on hospital bills and coverage. I was standing up in the food car at the time of the crash… worried about hospital bills.

A. Even though it’s a train accident, because the train hit a truck, it is also an auto accident. Because the accident happened in Michigan, any injured train passengers will receive Michigan No-Fault (PIP) benefits. A train is not a motor vehicle for the purposes of PIP benefits. The train passengers will be considered non-occupants of a motor vehicle and will get their PIP benefits as follows:

Michigan residents:

1. Michigan residents will go the their own auto insurance (where they are a named-insured on an auto insurance policy).

2. If they do not have their own insurance, they will go through a spouse and/or other relative living in the same house who has an auto insurance policy.

3. If no spouse or resident-relative has an auto policy, then they would go through the auto policy of the owner of the truck.

4. If the owner was uninsured, then it will go through the auto insurer of the driver of the truck, assuming the driver is a different person than the owner.

5. If the driver was uninsured, then the Assigned Claims Facility in Lansing will assign an insurance company to pay PIP benefits.

Non-Michigan residents:

1. Non-Michigan residents will go through the insurer of the owner of the truck first.**

2. If the owner of the truck is uninsured, then they will go through the auto insurer of the driver of the truck, assuming the driver is a different person than the owner.

3. If the driver is uninsured, then the Assigned Claims Facility in Lansing will assign an insurance company to pay PIP benefits.

**NOTE: for most accidents, a non-Michigan resident would go through the same order of priorities as a Michigan resident. If they or their spouse/resident-relative had an out-of-state insurer that sold policies in Michigan, that insurer would be obligated to pay Michigan PIP benefits. However, in the case of non-occupants, because they are not occupying a motor vehicle, a small technicality in the No-Fault Act disqualifies their insurer from having to pay Michigan PIP benefits. That is why they skip their own insurer and their spouse/resident-relative’s insurer and proceed right to the owner of the vehicle involved.

We realize that this information is pretty technical and can seem overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to recover from an auto accident or train accident and wondering how to pick up the pieces. If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to call one of our accident attorneys. We offer free telephone advice and we are here to help you navigate through complicated insurance systems, so you can make sure you’re getting all of the insurance benefits you’re entitled.

Our phone number is (800) 777-0028 and you can speak with one of our attorneys any time.

Reminder: March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month. And you can help raise up to $10,000 for brain injury survivors without paying a thing. For every “Like” on Michigan Auto Law’s Facebook page, we will donate $1 — up to $10,000 — to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan. Please consider helping us in this important cause.

Steven Gursten is a head of Michigan Auto Law and one of the accident lawyers in the country. He is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. Steve frequently writes and speaks on catastrophic accidents, and is available for comment.

Related information to protect yourself:

Is it best for Amtrak train crash victims to collect Michigan No-Fault?

Train passengers injured in truck crash entitled to Michigan No-Fault benefits

3 potential cases in Michigan after an auto accident

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, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit. Call (800) 777-0028 or to speak with one of our accident lawyers today.

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