After sustaining serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, an injured driver or passenger may not be able to fully care for themselves. As part of the state’s no-fault benefits, insured accident victims may be able to pay a third-party assistant to provide that care in-home.
The attorneys at Jay Trucks & Associates discuss this benefit, called attendant care, including how it was recently impacted by the new auto insurance reform law.
If you are injured after being involved in a car crash, we encourage you to contact our firm of experienced lawyers. We have decades of proven experience, and we are prepared to help you learn what no-fault benefits and other compensation may be available. Learn more by scheduling a free, no-obligation consultation today.
Attendant Care in Michigan
When injured accident victims cannot tend to their basic needs, such as cooking, food shopping, dressing, bathing or feeding themselves, attendant care provides a financial benefit so they can pay another to help them with these tasks. The third-party assistant may be either a family member or a commercial nursing aid hired to provide these services in the patient’s home.
Is Attendant Care a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefit?
Attendant care is defined under Michigan’s no-fault law: MCL500.3107(1)(a) as: "Allowable expenses consisting of reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services and accommodations for an injured person's care, recovery, or rehabilitation."
Allowable expenses are provided as part of your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. Michigan courts have deemed that these “services” provided under the law includes both skilled and unskilled care. This means that you may be able to compensate an individual who provides these services whether they are a family member, friend or hired from an outside health agency.
Under the state's no-fault law, this benefit applies to those who suffered serious injuries and can no longer attend to their needs associated with basic daily care and other core tasks.
Care provided may include, but is not limited to:
- Driving the injured victim to and from medical appointments
- General hygiene and grooming assistance
- Monitoring the individual if deemed necessary for safety reasons
- Tending to general wound care
- Assistance getting in and out of bed
- Preparing meals
- Moving or lifting items
- Light housekeeping related to the patient’s care
- Management of personal finances
- Bathroom assistance
- Administering medication
Hourly Rates Provided
You – or your attorney – may negotiate with your no-fault auto insurer for the number of “reasonable” hours of weekly care that is deemed necessary, along with an approved hourly rate for your caregiver. Typically, insurance companies may look to the competitive rates being charged by other commercial health agencies for similar care. If you hire an attorney, he or she may be able to negotiate a higher hourly rate and more hours per week, something that is critical if you or your family member requires 24-hour care while recovering.
Communicating an Expectation of Compensation for Caregivers
It is also important to note that you must clearly communicate the expectation of compensation to the insurance company if your caregiver will be a friend or family member. If you do not communicate this expectation, then, according to previous decisions under Michigan’s Supreme Court, it may be considered a service done out of obligation, compassion, commitment or duty, in which case, there could be no expectation of compensation. This is yet another reason why you may choose to hire an attorney who is familiar with these laws to advocate on your behalf.
Impact of the Auto-Reform Law
The attendant care benefit previously provided up to 24-hour, around-the-clock assistance as there was no limitation on the number of care hours provided per week. However, as of July 1, 2021, in accordance with changes made under the auto reform law, the hours of attendant care will now follow what is similarly provided under workers’ compensation.
- Insurance companies will now only have to provide up to 56 hours of care per week for in-home care provided by a family or friend. It does not, however, impact the allowed hours of care provided by a medical facility or commercial agency.
- For those who are already receiving 24-hour in-home care when this law goes into effect, the law is unclear as to whether 24-hour care will be “grandfathered in” as a covered cost. This is something you should discuss with an attorney as soon as possible.
It is equally important to note that, under the auto reform law, the amount of PIP coverage you selected may also impact your attendant care services coverage. Keeping this in mind, we recommend that you speak with your insurer to make sure you understand how your no-fault benefits work under the new auto reform law and to determine whether the level of PIP coverage you selected will be enough to meet your current needs. If you chose an option other than unlimited PIP protection, check with your insurer to see whether a rider for attendant care services may be included or available for purchase.
Call Our Firm for Legal Help After a Car Crash
If you suffered serious injuries in a Michigan car accident, our team of legal professionals are prepared to help. We provide a free initial consultation with one of our car accident attorneys in Grand Rapids to help determine whether you may have a valid case. There is no obligation to work with our firm after this meeting.
We accept car accident cases on contingency, which means that there is nothing for you to pay up front or until your case concludes. We do not collect our payment until you get paid.
Providing trusted legal help throughout Michigan. (800) 762-8623