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An auto accident is a terrible, and often terrifying, experience.  If you’ve just been hurt in a car crash, there are dozens of thoughts running through your mind.  To make matters even worse, in some cases the at-fault driver leaves the scene.  What do you do now?

In Michigan, you may still have access to certain benefits that can help with your situation.

No-Fault Benefits

Michigan’s No-Fault Act provides generous benefits to nearly everyone who is injured in an auto accident.  With a few exceptions (like driving a vehicle you own without the insurance required by law), if you’ve suffered an accidental bodily injury arising out of the use, operation, or maintenance of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle, you are entitled to economic benefits.  These benefits, sometimes called “personal injury protection (PIP)” or “first-party” benefits, fall into four main categories:

Allowable Expenses

The No-Fault Act provides for “allowable expenses” reasonably necessary for an injured person’s care, recovery, and treatment for injuries sustained in the crash.  Generally this will consist of medical bills, but it also includes attendant care and home/vehicle modifications if necessary.  This is an unlimited, lifetime benefit.

Wage Loss

If you miss out on work and experience actual work loss as a result of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle collision, the no-fault insurer will provide up to 85% of your lost wages for up to three years.  Even if you weren’t actively employed, you may qualify for wage replacement as a “temporarily unemployed” individual.

Household/Replacement Services

PIP benefits include reimbursement for help for “ordinary and necessary services” that the injured person would have performed had he or she not been injured.  These service might include help around the house with tasks like cooking, cleaning, snow removal, mowing the lawn, and other similar activities.  The insurance carrier will pay up to $20 per day for up to three years for these services.

Death Benefits

If a family member is killed in an auto accident, two types of benefits may be available.  One is funeral expenses in excess of the amount set forth in the policy, which shall not be less than $1,750.00 or more than $5,000.00.  The other is survivor’s loss benefits for dependents, which includes “contributions of tangible things of economic value, not including services, that dependents of the deceased at the time of the deceased’s death would have received for support during their dependency from the deceased if the deceased had not suffered the accidental bodily injury causing death,” and expenses for services not exceeding $20 per day.

Most of the time, PIP benefits are available through your own auto insurer, but there are exceptions.  The description above is a simplified explanation of a complicated topic, and a lawyer can help you determine who is responsible for providing these benefits, and which benefits you may be entitled to.

Next week, I’ll talk about another form of insurance coverage: Uninsured Motorist coverage.

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