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Judge orders State Farm to resume paying for care for quadriplegic car crash survivor

Stephen Gedda with grandsons. Gedda is able to live at home with his family, thanks to care paid for under Michigan's old no fault law. A circuit court judge said the new law, which slashed payments for that care, is unconstitutional.
Matt Gedda
Catastrophically injured car accident survivors gather at the State Capitol on January 13, 2022 to ask for changes to Michigan's no fault law, so they can keep their home care and medical treatment

A Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge has ordered State Farm to resume paying for the care of Stephen Gedda, who was severely injured in a car crash in 2011, and to compensate his caregivers retroactively for the months the insurer did not pay.

State Farm stopped paying for Gedda's care in September, according to his attorney Steve Hulst.

Judge Archie Brown said Michigan's 2019 auto insurance no fault law is unconstitutional. It allows insurance companies to cut payments for care for injured people by nearly half of what they were paying in 2019.

Brown ordered State Farm to pay a market rate for Gedda's nurses and home care aides, rather than the no fault reform's discounted rate.

State Farm said it is considering its options for appeal.

Thousands of other car crash survivors in Michigan have been losing their home care and other medical treatment due to the no fault law, which slashed pay for care below cost. Providers have been going out of business as a result, and discharging their former patients.

Attorney Steve Hulst said the no fault law is causing incredible suffering. And he said State Farm is not the only insurance company in Michigan taking advantage of vulnerable people by stopping all payments completely, forcing them to sue — if they can find an attorney to represent them.

"It's all part of this twisted game, in my opinion, that puts people in this terrible position and it's a position they should never be in," he said. "It's inhumane. It's inhumane what insurance companies are doing here.  It's just hard to even fathom."

Hulst said this case does not establish a precedent, because it is a lower court case. But he said other circuit court judges could use Brown's ruling to inform their own decisions.

A class action lawsuit seeking to have the no fault law declared unconstitutional on behalf of all survivors is pending in the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Hulst says too many people are unaware of the damage the no fault law is doing.

That's in large part because much of the recent media coverage of the impact of the law has focused on the decision by the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to send drivers $400 per-car refund checks out of its surplus.

Prior to the law, the Association paid for care for the most severely injured car crash survivors.

"It is a legimitate crisis," Hulst said. "And if you don't have a family member or friend in this situation, you probably don't even think about it. You're probably thinking, 'oh, I got $400 in my bank account, that's great.' But God forbid it happens to you or someone you know. And you're going to unfortunately realize, you don't have care options because of this law."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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