Applying for PIP benefits with your own insurance company after a car accident
One of the most common questions our insurance lawyers receive from car accident victims is: How do I get my No-Fault insurance benefits?
In Michigan, an auto accident victim can recover No-Fault insurance benefits (also called PIP benefits) from his or her own insurance company. You do not need to hire a Michigan lawyer to make an application for benefits with your insurance company, but you also shouldn’t depend on your insurance company to tell you about ALL of your no fault benefits either – click here to see why.
What exactly are No-Fault insurance benefits? These are important insurance benefits that you recover from your own auto insurance company. They are designed to help people with serious car accident injuries while they’re recovering.
Your No-Fault benefits include:
- Medical expenses and reimbursement for mileage to and from appointments
- Lost wages
- Attendant care benefits (nursing services)
- Replacement services (help around the house).
To get your No-Fault benefits, you must apply with your own insurance company by filling out an application for benefits. You can request this form from your auto insurance company.
Here, you can see a sample application from the state of Michigan.
This application MUST be filed within one year from the date of the accident, or you will forever lose any benefits that you are entitled. Reimbursement for your no-fault insurance benefits will not begin until you’ve filed your application.
Filing the application for benefits is absolutely essential in protecting your No-Fault rights. There’s no danger in completing this form, even if your personal injuries do not seem severe right after a car accident.
On the other hand, there are potentially disastrous consequences if you do not complete the form and do not file it within one year of the date of your car accident. Often, those personal injuries that you had hoped would go away become much more serious and require expensive medical treatment or force you to miss work.
Documenting your injuries on your application for No-Fault benefits
You will be asked to describe your injuries on your application for benefits. It’s important to consider all of your injuries, even injuries that may not seem significant to you. It’s easy not to put down all of your injuries, especially if you’ve also suffered more serious injuries that have required surgeries and broken bones.
Our attorneys frequently see people who had “masked injuries” go on to have all kinds of trouble with their insurance companies because these injuries were never listed on the application for benefits or were not documented in early medical treatment.
Certain injuries can go undetected due to doctors focusing attention on the more serious ones. It can also happen when strong narcotic pain medications (that are meant to treat intense pain from a more obvious injury) hide or “mask” other personal injuries that seem minor at the time but go on to become chronic and disabling. For example, surgeries and months on pain medications can often mask deficits from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), especially when someone is at home recuperating and the deficits remain hidden until that person tries to go back to work months later. TBI is also something that is difficult for doctors and traditional testing to detect, and has the tendency to become progressively worse, especially when there are multiple injuries.
The reason I’m writing this her is to serve as a warning: For a car accident injury to be covered by Michigan No-Fault, everything must be documented and reported.
Try to write everything down on your application for benefits, take photos or videos of your injuries, and go see your doctor and make sure you are not missing anything.
If you have problems filling out your application for No-Fault benefits, feel free to call one of our attorneys at (248) 353-7575. We offer free advice on Michigan No-Fault, and there is no obligation.
– Steve Gursten is a past chair of the Michigan Association for Justice Automobile Accident No-Fault Insurance Committee. He frequently writes and speaks about Michigan No-Fault law, and is available for comment.
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 lawyers.