Welcome to the podcast of Patrick Marutiak. This month, I’d like to talk about automobile accidents and auto law. Now, just so you know, I’ve been doing this kind of work for 30 years, and that means automobile accidents as well. I’ve always represented injured persons, never insurance companies.
Michigan No-Fault Law
Michigan has no-fault law, as we all know. What no-fault covers if you are hurt in an automobile accident are several things. Most important is medical coverage. Except for deductibles, you’re 100% covered. You may have to bill your own personal insurance first but the car insurance will pick up anything they don’t pay. If you are off work because of the injury, wage loss is covered as well. Wages are paid at 85% of what you were earning and the reason it’s 85% is because it’s tax-free, so you’re virtually getting everything you were paid for or working for before. In addition to that, you’re entitled to what we call attendant care but most people would call “nursing care.” If you need help bathing, dressing, feeding, things like that, a nurse can be paid for that or even family members could do it, and they get reimbursed as if they were nursing you.
Rules on Service Care
Lastly, service care. Service care is for those things you used to do around the house that no longer can do because of the injury. This would be things like mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, perhaps changing the oil in the car. You can be reimbursed for that, too. The only problem with this is that it has a $20 a day limit, so even doing an hour or two of work a day or someone else doing for you will hit that $20 a day cap. In that regard, you may want to space it over a couple of days to get $40 instead of $20.
Now, medical coverage and the nursing care is lifetime. The wages and the service care has a three-year maximum limit on it. These are all important benefits that you’re entitled to if you have an injury involving a motor vehicle. Now, you need to have coverage on your vehicle in order to qualify for this, at least if you’re in that vehicle. Currently, under Michigan law, if you’re driving your own motor vehicle and you do not have no-fault coverage, you’re not entitled to any benefits, and that would be for damage to the vehicle as well as to yourself.
You must have auto insurance in Michigan!
I once had a guy who bought a $40,000 truck and he said he was a safe driver so he wasn’t worried about insurance. A drunk driver totaled that truck. Well, unfortunately for him, he didn’t get paid for that truck because he didn’t have any insurance on it, and if you’re hurt by a drunk driver, even if you’re seriously hurt, if you’re driving your own vehicle without insurance, you can’t even sue that driver for pain and suffering. That’s why it’s important to make sure you always have insurance. Michigan has one of the highest rates of non-insured drivers around and that’s because, of course, the coverage is so high, but don’t drive your vehicle if it’s uninsured.
“If you’re driving your own vehicle without insurance, you can’t even sue that driver for pain and suffering. That’s why it’s important to make sure you always have insurance.”
Now, if you’re hurt in an auto accident, you can also make a claim against the driver at fault. That would be for pain and suffering. The wages and the medical bills would generally go through your insurance company but you can go through their insurance company for pain and suffering if you meet what we call “threshold.” Threshold basically means you have to have a serious injury. The legal terminology is “a serious impairment of a body function.” Now, we could spend hours talking about what that means but it generally means it has to affect your day-to-day life and it has to be long-term, but bear in mind “long-term” could be a matter of a month or more or a lifetime. So it’s important to always get an evaluation from an attorney as to whether or not you have a claim against the at-fault driver.
Proposed changes in Michigan No-Fault Law
Currently, Lansing is proposing many changes in the no-fault law. A lot of these changes are quite controversial. Regardless of the stance you take on it, you should pay attention to these changes and contact your congressman about them because one of the main changes they’re proposing is eliminating lifetime medical coverage. Now, if some people are hurt seriously, even maimed, or they’re paraplegic, that lifetime medical coverage gives them a lot of benefits even to the extent of modifying their homes if they’re hurt in a car accident. So these are important benefits. Be aware of that. Try to keep up to date on that especially if you hear of any changes or proposed changes in the law.
Things you can do before calling me that would be helpful in evaluating your claim would be such things as, one, knowing what your official diagnosis is from the doctor, having a list of all the doctors you’ve seen or treated with for your condition, and having what is called your “dec sheet.” Dec sheets are the type of coverage you have on your vehicle. Most people don’t have their policy but almost everybody has the first page, which is the declaration sheet that shows if you have full coverage or PLPD, things like that.
If you have any questions at any time, feel free to contact me for either in-person consultation or by phone at 989-725-8118.