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The person who inspired L. Brooks Patterson to support No Fault

May 8, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

Meet Erica Nader Coulston, car accident  survivor, quadriplegic and founder of Walk the Line to Spinal Cord Injury Recovery

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has voiced his strong and vocal support for Michigan’s No Fault insurance system. And now we learn a little more as to why.

In this latest interview with attorney Steven Gursten of Michigan Auto Law, Mr. Patterson discusses one of the personal inspirations that caused him to become a staunch supporter of Michigan No Fault auto insurance.  Meet car accident and spinal cord injury survivor Erica Nader Coulston, and learn more about the work she’s doing for auto accident victims who are paralyzed and seriously injured at her medical rehabilitation facility in Southfield, Michigan, called Walk the Line to Spinal Cord Injury Recovery.

Currently, there are calls for No Fault insurance “reform” by many Republican lawmakers (most of which seem to be at the behest of lobbyists from  Michigan’s auto insurance industry). No Fault reform proposals currently include capping No Fault medical benefits from anywhere from $50,000 (Virgil Smith and Joseph Hune) to $1 million (Gov. Snyder, last Thursday).  Both No Fault reform proposals have very dangerous consequences, as L. Brooks Patterson, a fiscally conservative Oakland County Republican, has already noted.

For example, both proposals would slash the quality of medical care in the state, both would cut good medical jobs, and both would increase the costs to the rest of us as taxpayers, because auto accident victims with injuries past the cap amounts would be pushed onto tax payer-funded Medicaid.  In far too many cases, people who require 24- hour care would be institutionalized into low-quality care nursing homes, and would lose attendant care benefits to keep them and their families intact.

The No Fault reform proposals also include dismantling the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), and most curiously (although not a complete surprise considering the power of the insurance industry and the campaign donations it is making) giving away the billions in the MCCA fund to the state insurance companies, instead of back to the drivers who paid it into the fund to start. And, as my recent Detroit Free Press editorial noted, all of this would be done for very little gain.

The MCCA is the fund that reimburses auto insurance companies for people who have suffered very serious injuries in automobile accidents and have medical bills exceeding $500,000.  People with these types of catastrophic injuries – most have suffered spinal cord injury, like Erica, or very serious traumatic brain injury from motor vehicle accidents – desperately rely on the MCCA fund for medical care.

Erica has become a voice in the current No Fault debate that’s now raging in Michigan. She’s an advocate for keeping our current No Fault insurance system intact, and its guarantee of lifetime necessary medical care for the catastrophically injured.

Erica recently contributed a guest blog post: Quadriplegic car accident survivor Erica Nader Coulston on why Michigan No Fault insurance is vital. Here, you can read her story.

Mr. Patterson became involved in the No Fault reform debate when he published his “Open Letter” on why  Michigan’s existing No Fault system needs to be preserved and protected in February.

Here are some highlights from Mr. Patterson’s above interview:

  • “I can see the benefit [of No Fault] for people like Erica because she and her father started their own clinic called Walk the Line. It’s breathtaking. You walk in and right down there on the floor in the middle of the room, there’s a line painted in the floor. They want those people to Walk the Line before they leave. These people were told after they were injured that they would never walk again. That clinic is proving them wrong.”
  • “That’s what you can do with a well-managed fund [the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association] that “politicians” and of course I mean insurance agencies are tampering with.”
  • “If you really want to know what makes this such an important fund [the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association], come on down to Walk the Line and see Erica, what can be accomplished because we have the wherewithal to support long-term therapy.”
  • “Why would you want to take that away from people, the last ray of hope that they  might recover and have a modicum of a quality of life?”

For more information, click here to read a comprehensive analysis of Michigan No Fault reform and the latest developments.

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