The economy in Michigan is tough. Now is not the time to be wasting money on products and services that provide no benefit to the consumer. Yet every year, the people of Michigan faithfully pay their insurance premiums to auto insurance companies as required by law. In exchange, auto insurance companies are required to provide certain personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits, without regard to fault. These benefits include:
Allowable expenses consisting of all reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services and accommodations for the injured person’s care, recovery or rehabilitation;
Work loss consisting of loss of income from work an injured person would have performed during the first 3 years after the date of the accident if he or she had not been injured; and
Up to $20.00 per day, reasonably incurred in obtaining ordinary and necessary services for household services for up to 3 years.
Unfortunately, while insurance companies gladly add these premium checks into their astonishing profits, they consistently employ tactics to delay and deny payment of these benefits. If one of their customers challenges a denial, the insurance company will vigorously defend its decision. And with Michigan’s “one-year back rule,” many insurance companies successfully delay action on a claim until it is too late for the consumer to do anything. As a result, Michigan’s No-Fault laws, originally designed to provide injured people with prompt medical benefits and income replacement, is being used by insurance companies to prevent their own customers from receiving the coverage they have paid for!
Let me give you an example of just one of the nefarious tactics used by these insurance companies. A former client of ours was receiving PIP benefits from Progressive. Approximately 3 years after her auto accident, Progressive offered to settle the wage loss portion of her claim. At least that’s what they led her to believe. The release she was asked to sign actually would have extinguished ALL of her PIP benefits – including her lifetime medical benefits! Fortunately, she asked us to review the document and we caught the problem right away. Sadly, this is a common occurrence.
In another case, a client of ours was severely injured in an auto accident and was left unable to work. Despite the fact that his doctors have consistently restricted him from working, State Farm‘s adjuster determined that our client should return to his employment (even though he had lost his job because he was unable to perform his job functions for such a long time) and stopped paying his wage loss benefits. In an effort to support his position, the adjuster sent our client to an “independent” medical evaluation – a perfunctory examination by a doctor who is paid by the insurance company. Contrary to the opinion of all the doctors who have been treating our client, the “independent” doctor claimed he was able to work.
These stories are just two examples of the way auto insurance companies treat their customers. Simply put, this conduct must stop! Most injured victims do not know their rights, so insurance companies can get away with these tactics. If you have been injured, do not rely on your auto insurance company to explain your rights to you. Ask someone who can help. Know your rights, let us protect them.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.