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How does gay marriage ruling affect MI No Fault insurance rights of same-sex married couples?

November 4, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

5 big legal changes for same-sex married couples who can now collect No Fault and survivor’s loss benefits; Recover for wrongful death and loss of consortium

same sex marriage MI No Fault

How does the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent, landmark gay marriage ruling affect the No Fault auto insurance rights of same-sex married couples in Michigan?

Let me count the ways.

Specifically, as a result of same-sex couples being able to legally marry (in Michigan and in every state in the nation) under the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, same-sex spouses, their children and their relatives will see the following five changes in their No Fault auto insurance rights:

  • “Spousal” No Fault benefits: A same-sex spouse can collect No Fault benefits (such as reimbursement for auto-accident-related medical expenses, lost wages and replacement services) through his or her spouses’ No Fault auto insurance policy – assuming that the spouse who needs the benefits for auto-accident-related injuries does not have his or her own policy. (See MCL 500.3107; 500.3114(1))
  • “Resident relative” No Fault insurance benefits: Relatives of a same-sex spouse who live with the same-sex married couple can collect No Fault benefits through the auto insurance policy of either same-sex spouse – because, now that same-sex couples can legally marry, the relative is related to both spouses in a same-sex married couple. “Relatives” in this context includes not only children of the same-sex married couple, but also the “relatives,” i.e., parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., of each of the spouses. (See MCL 500.3107; 500.3114(1))
  • “Survivor’s loss” No Fault benefits: In the event that one of the spouses in a same-sex married couple loses his or her life in a Michigan auto accident, then No Fault “survivor’s loss” benefits may be payable to the spouse’s “dependents” (including but not limited to the surviving same-sex spouse and the same-sex married couple’s children). Survivor’s loss benefits generally consists of money (or “contributions of tangible things of economic value”) comparable to what they would have received in support from the wrongful death victim if he or she had not been killed in an accident. (See MCL 500.3108)
  • “Loss of consortium” and “loss of society and companionship” benefits: In the event that one of the spouses in a same-sex married couple is injured in such a way that his or her injuries negatively affect the intimate and social aspects of the marriage, the other spouse may file a claim for loss of consortium and/or loss of society and companionship
  • “Wrongful death” benefits: In the event that one of the spouses in a same-sex married couple loses his or her life in a Michigan auto accident, the surviving spouse can sue for wrongful death and “may be entitled to damages” such as “reasonable compensation for … pain and suffering” and “loss of the society and companionship of the deceased.” (See MCL 600.2922(3)(a) and (6))

Same-sex Benefits for auto accident victims

To learn more about the specific Michigan No Fault auto insurance benefits that I’ve listed above, please check out the following:

U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling

In its June 26, 2015, opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court held:

“The Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States. It follows that the Court also must hold—and it now does hold—that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.”

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