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No-Fault Insurance Benefits

Important case law about Michigan attendant care after an accident

Six lessons that all auto accident victims and attendant care lawyers need to know

Our insurance attorneys want to share six Michigan attendant care (AC) cases that established important laws for auto accident victims. An experienced attendant care lawyer should be familiar with these laws in order to best protect your attendant care rights.

For basic information about attendant care in Michigan, read our attendant care FAQs. You can also call Michigan Auto Law at (800) 777-0028 and speak with one of our attendant care lawyers. The call and the advice are free.

Michigan attendant care lesson 1: Family members can be compensated

Family members of a seriously injured car accident or truck accident victim can be compensated under the No-Fault law for providing attendant care services to the victim – even if the family members have no medical training.

  • Visconti v. Detroit Automobile Inter-Insurance Exchange (DAIIE): The Michigan Court of Appeals held that a car accident victim’s wife was entitled to compensation under Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Law for services and care she provided the victim for the four months he was in a leg cast. The attendant care services that the court deemed compensable included “‘[s]erving meals in bed and bathing, dressing, and escorting a disabled person . . .'” (Michigan Court of Appeals, June 5, 1979, #78-872)
  • Van Marter v. American Fidelity Fire Insurance Company: The Michigan Court of Appeals held that an auto accident victim’s family member does not need to be medically “trained” or a licensed medical care provider in order to be compensated for providing attendant care services to the accident victim. In Van Marter, the attendant care included: Serving the victim’s meals in bed; bathing the victim; escorting the victim to the doctor; exercising the victim in conformity with his doctor’s instructions; assisting in formulating the victim’s diet; administering medications; assisting the victim with “speech and associational therapy.” (Michigan Court of Appeals, March 17, 1982, #51813)

Michigan attendant care lesson 2: Consider the price on the open market

To determine the reimbursement rate of in-home, family-member provided attendant care services, courts must consider prices charged by “individual caregivers” on the open market.

  • Douglas v. Allstate Insurance Company: The Michigan Supreme Court identified the factors that can – and cannot – be considered when a court is determining the hourly, reimbursement rate for a family member who provides in-home attendant care services to a car accident victim. Specifically, the rates charged by “individual caregivers” “on the open market” (either directly to the people whom they help or to the commercial agencies that may happen to employ them) can be considered. But the “rates charged by commercial caregiving agencies” cannot. Ultimately, the justices ruled: “[W]e hold that a [court] may base the hourly rate for a family member’s provision of attendant care services on what health care agencies compensate their employees, but [not on] what health care agencies charge their patients . . .” (Michigan Supreme Court, July 30, 2012, #143503)

Michigan attendant care lesson 3: Family can get paid for overseeing attendant care

Family members of a seriously injured auto accident victim can be compensated for overseeing, supervising and managing the attendant care provided to the auto accident victim.

  • Sharp v. Preferred Risk Mutual Insurance Company: The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the mother of a “gross closed-head injury” victim was entitled to attendant care reimbursement for “providing, administering and supervising [her son’s] nursing care.” The mother’s services included: “the process of seeking, interviewing, selecting, training, and supervising the nurses”; “time spent computing hours that the nurses worked, billing the insurance company, and paying the nurses”; and “money spent on advertisements, stationary and other necessary expenses related to these above-mentioned activities” (Michigan Court of Appeals, #79575, May 7, 1985)

Michigan attendant care lesson 4: Family can be paid for attendant care at night

Family members of a seriously injured auto accident victim can be compensated for attendant care provided during a victim’s non-waking hours.

  • Garbo v. Auto-Owners Insurance Company: The Michigan Court of Appeals held that a family member could be compensated for attendant care provided to a Michigan auto accident victim during non-waking hours, i.e., when the victim was asleep. In Garbo, the victim suffered a closed head injury and his doctor prescribed 24-hour attendant care “because of [the victim’s] cognitive memory problems” (Michigan Court of Appeals, #202159, January 29, 1999)

Michigan attendant care lesson 5: Family can’t be denied payment for failure to “bill”

Family members of a seriously injured car accident victim cannot be denied compensation for failure to “bill” for the attendant care services they provided.

  • Booth v. Auto-Owners Insurance Company: The Michigan Court of Appeals held that a family member who provides attendant care to a seriously injured Michigan auto accident victim may be entitled to compensation regardless of whether the “the insured was actually billed by the family.” (Michigan Court of Appeals, #192527, July 25, 1997)

Michigan attendant care lesson 6: Don’t take “NO” for an answer

Don’t take “no” for an answer if an adjuster says attendant care is not available. Call a Michigan attendant care lawyer at (800) 777-0028 to find out the truth.

  • Johnson v. Wausau Insurance Company: The Michigan Court of Appeals allowed a severe brain-injury victim’s case to be dismissed after the victim’s Michigan No Fault-insurance adjuster lied, insisting that neither attendant care nor attendant care compensation was available. The court said the victim had no case for fraud because, if the victim had contacted a lawyer sooner, the victim could have learned the truth and taken the necessary steps to secure the attendant care and accompanying compensation the victim was entitled to. (Michigan Court of Appeals, May 12, 2009, #281624)
  • The Take-away lesson is: If you believe auto accident-related injuries warrant attendant care – and/or compensation for attendant care currently being provided – but an insurance adjuster tells you “no way,” then call a personal injury attorney from Michigan Auto Law right away to find out if the adjuster is denying you attendant care and compensation that you’re legally entitled to.

Our attorneys can protect your attendant care rights

Call Michigan Auto Law at (800) 777-0028, or fill out our free consultation form.

We can answer your auto insurance questions – and make sure you get all of the attendant care and compensation you’re entitled to. The call and the advice are free.

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