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Ain’t Michigan No-Fault great?

May 19, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

No-Fault insurance takes care of auto accident victims ‘unconditionally’ by paying for medical bills, lost wages and attendant care — regardless of who was at fault

This week I wrote a blog post about some misleading billboards that insurance companies are putting up all over the state (with more sure to come) about No-Fault “reform.” I made the point that these “reform” measures would leave injured auto accident victims without critical medical care and worse, shift the costs and burdens from insurance companies to Michigan taxpayers.

No wonder the insurance industry likes the idea of No-Fault reform. Huge profits (auto insurance companies in Michigan lead the nation in profitability) are kept in place, but the payouts get capped and really expensive claims become the taxpayers’ burden – instead of the insurance company that is paid to insure against the risk.

The average Joe? There has been very little public – as versus insurance industry – support for No-Fault insurance reform in Michigan. This makes sense since the previous two efforts to change No-Fault that the insurance industry pushed were soundly defeated at the voting booth by Michigan citizens. This new push, like the two previous, is all from the insurance industry, which is already raking in record breaking profits.

Given this insurance industry push to gut our most important driving protections, I thought today I would remind Michigan drivers just what our No-Fault system provides, and how important it is to all of us.

Described by the Insurance Institute of Michigan as “the Cadillac” auto insurance systems, Michigan’s No- Fault auto insurance system guarantees that seriously injured auto accident victims will get the care and treatment they need regardless of who was “at fault.”

In other words, even if a Michigan auto accident victim was “at fault” in causing the accident that resulted in her injuries, she is still entitled to the many generous benefits promised by Michigan’s No-Fault insurance law. That’s why Michigan’s auto insurance system is called “No-fault.”

Your Michigan No-Fault benefits

People hurt in car accidents recover Michigan No-Fault benefits normally in three ways:

Medical expenses: Michigan No-Fault will pay for an auto accident victim’s medical expenses that reasonably necessary to the victim’s accident-related care, recovery or rehabilitation. Medical expenses encompass many products, services and accommodations, including, medical treatment, hospitalizations, medical procedures, rehabilitation services, in-home attendant care, home and vehicle modifications, medical equipment and reimbursement for mileage and transportation costs.

Wage loss: If a Michigan auto accident victim’s injuries prevent him or her from returning to work, Michigan No-Fault will reimburse the victim for the wages the victim is losing as a result of being disabled from working.

According to the No-Fault law, a car or truck accident victim is entitled to have an insurance company pay him or her work loss benefits consisting of 85 percent of the gross income “from work an injured person would have performed … if he or she had not been injured.” (MCL 500.3107(1)(b))

Wage loss benefits are payable for three years following the date of the victim’s accident, and they cannot exceed a certain monthly amount set by law.

Replacement services: Michigan No-Fault provides that a car or truck accident victim’s insurance company may be required to pay for someone (i.e., a “replacement”) to do the “ordinary and necessary services” a victim would have done for himself or herself, or his or her dependents, if he or she had not been seriously injured in the accident. (MCL 500.3107(1)(c))

Common replacement services include housekeeping, lawn and garden maintenance, auto maintenance, meal preparation, baby-sitting/child care and driving family members to school and appointments.

“Replacement services” benefits, which are also known as “household services” benefits, are payable up to $20 per day for three years from the date of the accident.

There is a fourth benefit that the most seriously injured recover. This is called attendant care.

Attendant care: Attendant care entitles injured accident victims to have nursing care while they are at home recovering from injuries. Attendant care benefits are defined as “activities of daily living,” such as monitoring and supervision for safety reasons, administering medication, bathing, dressing, walking, styling/combing of hair, other grooming, help using the toilet, driving the patient, retrieving needed things for the injured person, carrying and lifting things for the patient, and wound care.

Attendant care can be performed by nurses, as well as the more typical family members and legal guardians.

My own take after nearly 20 years helping people as a No-Fault lawyer: No-Fault reform will rob Michigan drivers of their most important legal protections after an auto accident, and shift the burden from insurance companies to the taxpayers. It just puts more money in the Michigan insurance industry’s pockets, but hurts those of us who need these vital insurance protections most.

Steve Gursten is one of the nation’s top No-Fault insurance attorneys. He focuses on all types of auto accident and insurance lawsuits. He is head of Michigan Auto Law and president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. Steve frequently writes and speaks about Michigan No-Fault law and auto insurance, and is available for comment.

Related information to protect yourselves:

Michigan No-Fault 101 – How to fill out an application for benefits

Roundup – Who pays my No-Fault benefits?

Your Michigan 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. Call (248) 353-7575 to speak with one of our Michigan insurance attorneys.

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