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Giving insurance companies a “get out of jail free” card when they harm people

March 22, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Under House Speaker Bolger’s new No Fault “reform” plan, auto accident victims’ ability to seek redress when PIP benefits are denied or cut off is severely limited

get out of jail free card for insurance companies

House Speaker Jase Bolger’s “Substitute for HB 4612” will make litigation even  more difficult for car accident victims when they must hire a lawyer to challenge wrongful denials and/or illegal cut-offs  of No Fault PIP insurance benefits.

Bolger’s plan has many new and  devastating restrictions on the legal rights of injured crash victims to seek No Fault insurance benefits when an insurance company refuses to pay valid claims or wrongfully cuts people off from medical care, wage loss and attendant care.

The plan makes it much easier for the auto insurance companies in Michigan to deny No Fault claims and cut off  benefits, and then not be held accountable for their actions when a lawsuit is later filed.

The insurance companies are able to skirt their responsibilities because, as outlined in the 91-page draft plan, it would be more difficult for crash victims to challenge these wrongful denials and invalid terminations of their No Fault benefits.

Here’s how:

Under our existing No Fault law, auto accident victims still enjoy their constitutional right to a trial by jury.  And a lawyer hired to protect an accident victim can argue to a jury whether an auto insurer had sufficient evidence and proof when a claims adjuster and insurance company are  denying and/or terminating  No Fault insurance benefits.

Speaker Bolger and many House Republicans have decided to “remedy” this pesky right, guaranteed by the 7th Amendment under the Bill of Rights,  by stripping people of their right to a jury trial.

Anyone reading this, whether you’re an attorney or not, should be very alarmed by this proposal.  This goes far beyond hurting consumers and giving insurance companies an unfair advantage. Now we’re talking about taking away people’s protected constitutional legal rights, because insurance companies don’t like to be held accountable in a civil jury trial for the harms and losses they have caused.

Tomorrow, I will discuss this very serious and very disturbing issue in more detail.

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