Home Modifications For Disabled Drivers After A Car Accident In Michigan
Home modifications for disabled drivers is one of the PIP benefits that car accident victims may be entitled to under Michigan’s No-Fault law. It involves modifying the victim’s home to accommodate his or her accident-related limitations and, thus, make the home both accessible and livable by the victim.
What are home modifications for disabled drivers?
Home modifications for disabled drivers are alterations that are made to a car accident victim’s place of residence that allow the victim to live more freely and independently in his or her residence. The alterations are made to accommodate the victim’s accident-related physical, mental or functional limitations.
However, in some instances, modification is inadequate and a victim’s limitations can only be accommodated only by a full home renovation or construction of a new, modified home.
When are home modifications for disabled drivers necessary?
These benefits may be necessary when a serious car accident has imposed physical, mental or functional limitations on a car accident victim that make it impossible to live in his or her residence – given its structure and/or configuration – the way it was before the accident.
In the event that a new, modified home must be built, the Michigan Court of Appeals said in Sharp v. Preferred Risk Mutual Insurance Company that the No-Fault insurance company must pay “[a]s long as housing larger and better equipped is required for the injured person than would be required if he were not injured…”
How do I make a claim for these No-Fault benefits?
To collect No-Fault benefits to cover home modifications for disabled drivers after you were injured in a car accident, you must file a No-Fault application with the applicable auto insurance within ONE YEAR from the date of your car accident. (MCL 500.3145(1))
If you fail to file your No-Fault application (which is also called an “application for No-Fault benefits” or “notice of injury”) on time – within one year from the date of your car accident – then you will forever lose any benefits to which you might be entitled.
Who pays for these No-Fault benefits?
If you have your own auto insurance policy in which you are the “named insured,” then your own No-Fault auto insurer will pay for your home modifications for disabled drivers.
Otherwise the No-Fault law’s “priority” rules will determine what insurer is responsible. Generally – albeit subject to certain exceptions – if you don’t have a policy, then the applicable insurance company to pay your No-Fault medical mileage will be your spouse’s insurer or the insurer for a family member who lives with you.
If you don’t have coverage through any of these sources, then you will file your application for PIP benefits with the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan and they will assign an auto insurance company to pay for your benefits.
How much coverage do I have for these No-Fault benefits?
A car accident victim’s coverage for home modifications for disabled drivers is limited by the No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level in the auto insurance policy through which he or she is claiming benefits. Prior to July 2, 2020, all drivers in Michigan had unlimited No-Fault medical coverage.
Starting with car insurance policies issued or renewed after July 1, 2020, the No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level that will apply to a claim for these benefits will be one of the following:
- $50,000 of coverage for medical expenses (if the driver/named insured on the policy is enrolled in Medicaid)
- $250,000 of coverage for medical expenses
- $500,000 of coverage for medical expense
- Unlimited coverage for medical expenses
- No coverage for medical expenses (if the driver/named insured on the policy has Medicare and elected to opt-out of No-Fault medical coverage altogether)
What if my No-Fault auto insurance doesn’t cover all of the costs?
If the costs for these alterations exceeds the No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level in the policy through which a car accident victim is claiming No-Fault coverage for alterations to a place of residence, then the victim can sue the at-fault driver for “excess” medical benefits.
Is there a fixed cost that auto insurance companies must pay?
There is no fixed cost that No-Fault auto insurance companies must pay for home modifications for disabled drivers. It depends on the applicable No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage level in the policy and the “reasonableness” of the costs. After July 1, 2021, the No-Fault law’s Medicare-based fee schedule may be a factor.
What issues are involved with home modifications for disabled drivers?
The common issues that frequently arise with vehicle modifications for disabled drivers include: (1) Title; (2) Interest or ownership of the modified property; (3) Purchase or financial contribution; (4) Utilities, maintenance; (5) Taxes; (6) Homeowner, fire and casualty insurance; (7) Sale of property; (8) Change in medical condition; (9) Future obligations; (10) Institutionalization or death of injured person; (11) Family rent; (12) Changes in circumstance; and (13) Bars on future or other No-Fault benefits.
What happens to the title with home modifications for disabled drivers?
It is possible that a car accident victim may be granted title to his or her modified home, but it’s not automatic and will depend on the facts of the case.
In a 2002 Michigan Court of Appeals case, Williams v. AAA Michigan, the court held that it would be “manifestly unreasonable” for the auto accident victim to be denied legal title to the modified home that his No-Fault insurance company had paid to construct for him.
Injured and need a lawyer? Call Michigan Auto Law
If you have been injured in a car accident and you have questions about your legal rights to Michigan PIP benefits, you can call toll free anytime 24/7 at (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our experienced auto accident attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced accident attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.