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Long-term victims of car crashes win key insurance decision

Catastrophically injured car accident survivors gather at the State Capitol on January 13, 2022
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
Catastrophically injured car accident survivors gather at the State Capitol on January 13, 2022

The Michigan appeals court has issued a major ruling affecting long-term victims of car crashes.

The court says changes in auto insurance law can't be applied retroactively to people who were severely injured before summer 2019.

The court issued the opinion Thursday morning in a case brought by Ellen Andary of East Lansing, Philip Krueger of Ann Arbor, and the Eisenhower Center against USAA Casualty Insurance.

It's a victory for people who are still recovering and their care providers.

The changes cut the maximum number of billable hours from family and friends providing care, and the reimbursement rate care providers can charge.

In a split decision, the appellate court found that retroactively applying the changes to agreements that pre-date the new rules would violate the state constitution.

For decades, people injured in crashes were entitled to payment for "all reasonable charges" related to care and rehabilitation. But the new law sets a fee schedule and a cap on reimbursements not covered by Medicare.

It had sudden, drastic consequences for people needing long-term care for crashes before June 11, 2019, and the providers of those services.

The case could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

If this decision is upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court, it would still maintain the new system for people who are severely injured in car crashes after the 2019 changes to the law.

People injured before 2019 will legally be entitled to have their caregivers paid a higher amount, and will be permitted to have friends, family members, and acquaintances provide as many hours a week as necessary of care.

People injured after 2019 (who pay for lifetime unlimited coverage) will not be able to access as much, if any, home care or as much friends/family care, because they will still be subject to the 45% cut in reimbursements, and the 56 hour cutoff for friends/family care.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Vincent Duffy has been news director at Michigan Public since May 2007.
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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