As Chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Negligence Law Section, Michigan Auto Law attorney Robert Raitt testifies to House Committee on how injury lawyers can help create auto No-Fault fix
Michigan Auto Law attorney Robert Raitt testified before Michigan lawmakers on the House Select Committee on Reducing Auto Insurance Rates on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.
Bobby represented the State Bar of Michigan Negligence Law Section and his message was that ethical auto accident lawyers, both on the plaintiff (accident victim) side and the insurance defense side, need to be involved in legislative “fixes” to the auto No-Fault auto insurance system for these fixes to work in the real world.
Importantly, Bobby shared with Committee Chair Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) and the Committee members the following perspectives on proposals that Bobby said would “reduce litigation, therefore reduce costs, therefore reduce [auto insurance] premiums” for drivers:
- No-Fault medical claim cost containment: “I think your biggest issue that you can take on and really make meaningful changes – meaning reduce premiums – is a good, solid fee schedule. . . . That would bring consistency. That would bring clarity. A good portion of these [No-Fault] lawsuits would never need to be filed.”
- Capping No-Fault benefits: “I don’t think we, as the Negligence Section, [believe] that [capping No-Fault benefits] the #1 thing that’s going to help with premiums. . . . I personally don’t believe caps have to be implemented and, if they are, you’re taking on additional issues, whether you’re talking about Medicaid and Medicare or whether you’re talking about, now, when you reach the cap, what’s going to happen to third-party litigation? Because are we going to have the right for victims that are catastrophically injured, but have their No-Fault capped, to bring that additional economic damage in their third-party case.”
- Tackling No-Fault fraud across the board: “Everyone talks about this. There has to be accountability on both ends. There has to be some type of fraud unit. There has to be looking into not just what are the bad actors that are plaintiffs’ attorneys doing, but what are the insurance companies doing because I can tell you and I don’t know how much of this you’ve heard, but the ‘independent’ as they call it medical evaluations are awful. They’re rubber stamps . . . I don’t know what the answer is. But these people that are making a practice out of just saying ‘Not related,’ ‘Not injured,’ ‘Pre-existing’ . . . I mean, it’s ridiculous.”
- Attendant care and attorney fees: “There is no doubt there are some bad actors on [the] attendant care issue. . . . There are individuals [i.e., attorneys] who will take on an attendant care case, will sign a fee agreement and they will go on to collect the fee that they now got for attendant care indefinitely. And that’s wrong and something has to be done about that. There’s no doubt about it. But the problem is, whatever you do to force that change can’t affect someone who’s doing it right. And all I can suggest to you is some wording that ‘you can only get paid for doing work’ should be implemented into whatever bill we’re looking at because if you’re not doing work, no attorney should get paid to do nothing. And I think we all agree on that.”
Robert Raitt is Chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Negligence Law Section and his testimony built upon ideas he had raised in his April 3, 2019, “Message from the Chair,” which was entitled “No-Fault Fix? Hire An Attorney!”:
- “I have come to the conclusion that of all the stake-holders, all of the legislatures, all of the individuals who have testified on this issue [reforming No-Fault in a way that would preserve vital protections and benefits while lowering auto insurance prices], those in the best position to offer advice on how the No-Fault system can most effectively work, and how premiums can be lowered, are the attorneys who are members of the State Bar of Michigan Negligence Section. These attorneys should take the lead to educate those that will be making decisions on these issues.”
- “The Negligence Section is unique in that it is an organization made up of Plaintiff and Defense attorneys. Many of our attorneys have been involved with these issues of a “No-Fault fix” since the beginning. Additionally, the attorneys of our section routinely represent all of the stakeholders involved: hospitals, doctors, injured people, and yes insurance companies.”
- “The stakeholders do not hesitate to hire us to interpret and effectuate their rights under the No-Fault law. The legislature, whether the house or senate, could certainly benefit from asking our attorneys to testify at hearings on how, once and for all, our No-Fault law can be changed to result in lowering premiums.”
As it turns out, Bobby’s idea was such an excellent one that Michigan lawmakers took him up on it.
That’s why he and Vice-Chair of the Negligence Law Section, James Bradley, were invited to testify at the April 17th hearing of the House’s Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates, which is comprised of five Republican and four Democrat lawmakers.
To watch Bobby’s full testimony, check out the video below.
Michigan Auto Law attorney Robert Raitt describes how lawyers can help lawmakers with No-Fault ‘fixes’
In his “Message” as Chair of the SBM’s Negligence Law Section, Robert Raitt explained that tapping into the expertise of the lawyers who devote their careers to interpreting and applying No-Fault on behalf of their clients – car crash victims, insurance companies and doctors and hospitals – “would go a tremendous way to help the legislature with their task of reducing rates while at the same time, dramatically reducing lawsuits.”
Specifically, in his “Message,” Robert Raitt stated:
“If asked, we could provide education and recommendations to help decrease insurance premiums, decrease the number of underinsured motorists, decrease claims of fraud, decrease costs of medical treatment, make consistent insurance rates across the board, make consistent medical costs across the board, help bring stability to family-provided attendant care claims, help define “temporary unemployment”, speak to what, if anything, should be done with a household service claim in 2020, what needs to be done with the catastrophic claims association, why it is imperative that RBI limits are increased, why it is imperative that we codify law on the serious impairment of body function threshold, why it is imperative that uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists coverage is standard, and the importance of Medicare and Medicaid to the overall system.”