Michigan Attorney Fees – How are they handled when insurance company denies PIP Benefits?
The law providing for Michigan attorney fees in first party auto accident injury cases is found under MCL §3148 Attorney Fees. This provides that a Michigan attorney can be paid a reasonable attorney fee, or that such attorney fees will be taxable if the trial court finds either an unreasonable refusal or an unreasonable delay in making payments by the Michigan no fault insurer.
Michigan attorney fees can be awarded even though a portion of the no fault benefits was legitimately in dispute. Cole v DAIIE, 137 MA 603 (1984)
There can be no finding of attorney fees for no fault expenses submitted for first time at trial. Manley v DAIIE, 425 M 140 (1986) A late submittal, or a submittal for the first time during trial, does not preclude an attorney from submitting an overdue no fault expense. It just precludes that Michigan attorney from receiving attorney fees from the trial judge at the conclusion of the trial if the amount owing by the insurance company is considered overdue.
In Michigan, an insurance company’s refusal or delay to pay creates a rebuttable presumption of unreasonableness that places the burden on the insurer to justify its refusal or delay. Attard v Citizens Ins, 237 MA 311 (1999)
A hospital or a medical provider is considered a "claimant" for purposes of collecting reasonable Michigan attorney fees. Regents v State Farm, 250 MA 719 (2002)
Assessment of attorney fees should be based on quantum merit; however, court should also consider awarding the lawyer a contingency attorney fee. Hartman v Assoc Truck, 178 MA 426 (1989)
After a Michigan personal injury attorney has filed a lawsuit against the insurance company for overdue no fault benefits, if that lawyer later accepts the case evaluation award he or she will waive §3148 attorney fee sanctions (assuming both parties accepted the case evaluation). Larson v Auto Owners, 194 MA 329 (1992)