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Hope Network Of Grand Rapids opposes No-Fault “reform” and hopes you will, too

October 3, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Organization providing rehab services to 25,000 Michigan residents suffering from TBI, spinal cord and car accident injuries gives call to action

The Hope Network of Grand Rapids, Michigan is steadfastly opposed to lawmakers’ attempts to dismantle Michigan’s No-Fault insurance system. The Hope Network provides rehabilitation services to people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury.

It currently serves about 25,000 people throughout Michigan and was founded in 1963.

In recent postings to its website, Hope Network makes a compelling, fact-based case for why so-called No-Fault “reform” is disastrous for Michigan drivers and taxpayers — and for the medical professionals who care for seriously injured car accident victims.

Legislation that is currently pending before the Michigan Senate, Senate Bills 293 and 294, proposes reducing Michigan’s current unlimited, lifetime medical benefits to a $50,000 limit. Although the insurance lobby’s spin machine promises vague, unspecified savings in auto insurance premiums, the bills guarantee nothing in terms of savings to Michigan drivers.

Hope Network says allowing No-Fault medical benefits to be slashed as the Senate Bills propose would spell disaster for everyone — except the auto insurance companies. Our insurance attorneys certainly agree.

Medical costs from car accidents will quickly exhaust reduced coverage limit

Hope Network makes the essential point, which lawmakers and the auto insurance lobby purposefully gloss over, that $50,000 in medical coverage does not go far for victims of serious Michigan car crashes.

Take a look at the “costs associated with a serious car crash” below. They were provided by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and the Hope Network, and clearly show that the proposed $50,000 limit on medical coverage is woefully insufficient:

Craniotomy: $68,067
Loss of consciousness (4 days hospitalization): $47,556
Rehabilitation (11 days hospitalization): $30,397
Residential long-term care: $300-$400/day
Outpatient therapies: $200/hour
Supported living: $100-$150/day

The disastrous effects of so-called No Fault “reform” become most real when the proposed $50,000 medical coverage limit is reached and the money runs out. It’s not a pretty picture.

If the Senate Bills pass, many seriously injured car accident victims would be unable to pay for and, thus, will be denied vital, necessary medical care. They would no longer be protected by the unlimited, lifetime medical expense coverage that has existed in Michigan for nearly four decades.

“Increased taxes for everyone” under No-Fault insurance “reform”

For victims and their families who attempt to pay out-of-pocket for medical care, they will likely find themselves on the fast track to bankruptcy, given the astronomical costs associated with serious car crashes and the economic and employment challenges currently facing most Michigan residents.

And when car accident victims can no longer pay for their necessary medical care, taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab through the taxpayer-funded programs Medicaid and Medicare.

Hope Network predicts that, because of the inevitable and “massive cost shift from No-Fault insurance to Medicaid and Medicare,” the end result will be “Increased taxes” for everyone.

Costly, inefficient and time-consuming No-Fault lawsuits could become the norm

The point of passing the Michigan No-Fault Insurance Act in the early 1970s was to “remedy problems with the traditional tort system as it relates to automobile accidents.” (McCormick v. Carrier, et al., Michigan Supreme Court, #136738, July 31, 2010)

Those problems included:

The denial of “benefits to a high percentage of motor vehicle accident victims, minor injuries were overcompensated, serious injuries were under-compensated, long payment delays were commonplace, the court system was overburdened, and those with low income and little education suffered discrimination.” (McCormick v. Carrier, et al., Michigan Supreme Court, #136738, July 31, 2010)

If lawmakers sign off on the plan to dismantle Michigan’s No-Fault system, then get ready for “good old days” to come roaring back. Increased litigation will be the result of so-called No-Fault “reform,” says Hope Network, because victims will be left with no alternative but “suing at-fault drivers for unfunded medical care.”

No-Fault insurance companies laugh all the way to the bank

Michigan’s auto insurance companies will be raking in the profits if Michigan No-Fault system is dismantled. The companies will be able to keep considerably more of the premium dollars it demands of its insured clients.

For example, on a case that an auto insurance company would have had to pay out nearly $500,000 (the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association estimated there would be approximately 1,200 such cases between 2010 and 2011), under the “reform” bills, the company would only have to a maximum of $50,000.

Additionally, Michigan’s auto insurance industry will be able to charge more in liability insurance premiums.

As Michigan car accident victims increasingly turn to the courts to get their medical bills paid, auto insurance companies will have the opportunity to increase premiums “for additional liability coverage to protect drivers in the event of a lawsuit for payment of medical costs” to the victim.

Vote “NO” on Senate Bills 293 And 294!

That is Hope Network’s unequivocal message to lawmakers.

To reinforce the message, Hope Network is inviting people to write a letter to lawmakers in the Michigan Senate and Michigan House of Representatives opposing SB 0293 and SB 0294.

Let’s hear it for Hope Network and hoping that lawmakers do the right thing by voting “NO” on so-called No Fault “reform.”

Steven Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top No-Fault insurance lawyers handling serious auto accident cases. He writes about the importance of Michigan’s No-Fault law, and is available for comment.

Related information to protect yourself:

HB 4936: What the new bill would do to Michigan’s No-Fault protections

New study highlights dangers of No-Fault reform

Michigan doctors, hospitals call PIP Choice a dangerous dismantling of No-Fault

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan No-Fault insurance lawyers.

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