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Woman paralyzed in Michigan car accident: What would you want for your daughter, sister or wife?

October 18, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Insurance attorney shares a compelling letter to the editor about the importance of Michigan’s No-Fault law and lifetime medical benefits for car accident victims

I want to share this compelling commentary that recently appeared in the Detroit Free Press. This letter is from a woman named Erica Nader Coulston, who sustained a cervical spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed from a 2001 auto accident.

Completely paralyzed from the chest down, with no control of her limbs, hands, bladder and bowel, Erica required years of physical therapy and expensive medical care. She still needs 24-hour attendant care (nursing services) for her basic needs.

Erica is asking the public to consider how they would feel if their sisters, mothers, wives or daughters were in her shoes. Would they want Michigan’s unlimited, lifetime medical benefits afforded under the current No-Fault insurance law scrapped in exchange for more money in the greedy auto insurance companies’ pockets?

Erica is forced to think about such a scary “what if” situation because Michigan insurance companies (and the GOP) are trying to push No-Fault “reform” legislation through. HB 4936 and SB 0293 and 0294 would deny the care that Erica and other Michigan accident victims receive, and would reduce such medical benefits and attendant care to those who are already injured.

The insurance industry is telling the public that the proposed legislation would reduce insurance costs for Michigan drivers, even though there’s no guarantee in the bills.

Erica made many great points letter in efforts to help Michigan drivers understand the importance and seriousness of keeping our No-Fault insurance system intact:

The insurance companies’ plans would save the average Michigan driver only $22 a year:
“… take a look at your policy and you will see that personal injury protection (PIP), which pays for injury and rehabilitation costs, is a relatively small portion of a total annual bill — usually around $150. Assuming the 15% reduction on personal injury protection costs would come to pass under a new law, the insurance companies’ plans would save the average Michigan driver only $22.50 a year.”

No guaranteed drivers savings, putting lives in jeopardy:
“The bills do not guarantee even these minuscule savings for drivers. But even if they did, what would be the cost of these savings? For catastrophic injury victims like me, the cost could be substantial damage to quality of life and, in some cases, even life itself.”

Michigan No-Fault insurance “reform” sticks the accident victim with the bill: “When emergency care, hospital bills and rehabilitation are taken into account, the final bill for a serious auto accident can cost millions of dollars. Seriously injured victims who purchase the proposed minimum coverage under the insurance companies’ legislation would then be forced to pay out of their own pocket or sue the other driver…”

Insurance “reform” also sticks taxpayers with the bill: “Also, when catastrophically injured accident victims find they cannot pay for their care, they will likely turn to state taxpayers in the form of Medicaid to fund their health care. This would shift millions in costs from insurance companies onto the backs of state taxpayers.”

Thank you, Erica for sharing your courageous story. Hopefully the Legislature will do the right thing and shoot down these boondoggles to the state’s auto insurers that are being sold as No-Fault insurance “reform” proposals, so seriously injured car accident victims like Erica can be fully protected.

Steven Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top insurance attorneys handling serious car and truck accident lawsuits. He frequently writes about Michigan No-Fault insurance law and “reform,” and is available for comment.

Related information to protect yourself:

Why taking away No-Fault protections will fail to lower the price of auto insurance

HB 4936: New legislation drastically reduces attendant care benefits

Insurance lawyer advice on your No-Fault rights

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 insurance attorneys.

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