In The News

In The News

Saturday, September 10, 2022

What Did You Expect? Expect the Fight over the Reach of No-Fault Reform to go to the Michigan Supreme Court

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Wendy M. Schiller-Nichols, Personal Injury

The Michigan Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 opinion, ruled that the biggest piece of the reform of the Michigan no-fault benefits act does not apply retroactively to people hurt before July 1, 2019. Remember, Personal Insurance Protection Insurance (PIP) policies protect you if you were seriously injured. Under the old law, the insurance provider was legally obligated to provide you with unlimited benefits for medical and attendant care services including "all reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services and accommodations for an injured person's care, recovery or rehabilitation," (MCL 500.3107(1)(a). That included payment of your medical bills related to care, rehabilitation or attendant care that could be provided by a professional or a family member.

Of course, that can be a huge dollar figure if you suffer a catastrophic injury like a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

This opinion is absolutely spot-on - and the fight is probably going to the Michigan Supreme Court. Briefs in support of the application for leave to appeal are probably getting drafted at this moment.

The Court of Appeals got it absolutely correct. There were 2 major types of analyses at play: 1) retroactive application of a new law in Michigan and 2) the constitutional right to contract under our state constitution.

Remember - in 2019 Governor Whitmer led a coalition of lawmakers to reform Michigan’s auto insurance laws (commonly called “no-fault”) in order to tout drastic slashes in your insurance premiums. A major part of this so-called “fix” was to slash by 45 percent - that’s right 45 percent - of the rates that medical and attendant care providers could receive in non-Medicaid cases. That is a lot - right?

The changes to the reimbursement rates slashing them took effect on July 1, 2019.

By the way - how much have your rates for auto insurance gone down? Right - we have not seen it either.

2 people: Dr. Andaray (as a conservator for a family member) and Philip Krueger filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief by way of an order that the new law 2019 PA 21, should not be applied retroactively because their injuries pre-dated the new law.

The conferees at the Michigan Constitutional Convention of 1962 enacted a bar from the legislature passing a law that infringed on, among other things, the right to enter into a contract. The argument is a pretty easy one from our perspective, people, including some of our clients, entered into contracts with their insurance companies and paid premiums in reliance on the ability to have unlimited personal injury benefits to cover medical care, attendant care and the major necessities of life and that includes some people who suffered catastrophic injuries and need 24/7 care. To completely reverse that by capping those reimbursements and thus probably taking your medical/health care provider out of business is literally undoing the whole reason to enter into the contact in the first place.

The "reform" needs to be "reformed." The major change is that insurance providers can still sell you unlimited personal injury protection benefits but they are not required to by law. Yet, the insurance rate-relief according to studies has not been commensurate with the cost to accident victims on the back-end, like those discussed above.

In any event, we remain ready to take on your cause, your fight, your life if someone injuries you - especially if the insurance company needs a kick in the proverbial … teeth.

Mike and Wendy

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.