- A Recent Michigan Court of Appeals Decision Affects Accident Victims Across the State: Here’s What the Ruling Could Mean for You
A Recent Michigan Court of Appeals Decision Affects Accident Victims Across the State: Here’s What the Ruling Could Mean for You
Remember your high school civics or government class? Well, if those ancient lessons aren’t top of mind anymore, let us quickly refresh your memory. We promise it will be painless and beneficial in understanding a piece of breaking news that’s highly relevant to Michigan drivers.
The first thing to remember is that America was established on a governmental system of separation of powers, otherwise known as a system of “checks and balances.” Specifically they set up a legislative branch to write our nation’s laws, an executive branch to enforce those laws, and a judicial branch to interpret the meaning of our laws by making legal decisions.
Of course, once a case is decided by the legal system, one side or the other may have legitimate reasons to question a judge’s or jury’s decision. This is where the appeals court system comes into play. And that’s something that can affect both your pocketbook and your quality of life – which you’re about to find out as we review a notable case that was just decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Navigating the World of the Michigan Court of Appeals
When we win a case (to date, we’ve won more than $1.5 billion for our clients) the defendant and their insurance company are required by the court to pay damages and are sometimes responsible for fees and penalties resulting from their negligence or bad actions. Our clients can then use the funds to help pay for rehabilitation, medical bills, and other costs… and to enjoy some well-deserved compensation for the pain and suffering they’ve experienced. Typically, that’s where the story ends — but not always.
Occasionally, a defendant who has lost a case will attempt to file an appeal. And when that happens, our appeals team steps into action. According to attorney John Nachazel, Jr. on the appeals team, much of his work is on behalf of plaintiff-appellees. That means if we win a motion or entire case for our clients, and the insurance company later attempts to appeal the trial court’s decision, the appeals team works to defend and ultimately uphold the judge or jury’s decision through the appeals process.
Once a case makes it through the appeals process the Michigan Court of Appeals or the Michigan Supreme Court can either dismiss the case or remand the case back down to a lower court for additional proceedings — depending on the case status and whether the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court reversed or affirmed the lower court’s decision. This process usually occurs during or immediately after the trial court case.
However, once a settlement or final Order (that no one is appealing) is reached in the trial court, this will typically end the case since Michigan law requires a prompt appeal of any and all trial Court Orders shortly after the case concludes. But — in some rare scenarios — an appeal can occur months or even years after the original case is resolved in the trial court. For example, in a case decided just days ago by the Michigan Court of Appeals, recent changes to the state’s no-fault insurance laws had caused some Michiganders to experience tremendous losses in medical coverage following catastrophic accidents in which they were severely injured. In fact, an in-depth study revealed that the cascading effects of our no-fault law changes have so far resulted in more than 1,500 seriously injured citizens losing full-time medical care across the state.
According to WXMI-TV news in Grand Rapids, a lawsuit filed by “crash survivors Ellen Andary of East Lansing, Philip Krueger of Ann Arbor, and the Eisenhower Center, a brain injury rehabilitation clinic, against USAA Casualty Insurance,” is the result of the state’s no fault insurance law limiting medical payments on behalf of injured people based on a dramatically reduced fee schedule – a mere 55 percent of what payments had been before the law took effect. In other words, the insurance company’s full coverage for these individuals was not being “grandfathered in” even though their injuries occurred well before the 2019 changes to the state’s new no-fault medical reimbursement laws.
Fortunately, the Michigan Court of Appeals has just determined that they (and other patients whose accidents occurred before the state law changed) will be covered under the prior law and are not subject to the much more limited financial protections provided under the current law. For details on this case and what led up to it, check out this comprehensive coverage reported by Fox17. The Detroit News also thoroughly covered the court’s decision, though it notes that the case will likely be appealed again, all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Adding insult to injury, the same changes to the state’s no-fault law have also dramatically reduced payments to medical providers caring for injured Michiganders going forward. This is having long-term harmful impacts on the state’s health care system. Just this month, the Michigan Public Health Institute released a study showing that in addition to the many Michiganders who have already lost critical medical care, nearly 5,000 health care workers have lost their jobs following the passage of the state’s no-fault reforms.
While efforts to reduce car insurance premiums for Michigan drivers were well intentioned, they have resulted in unanticipated consequences that are negatively impacting thousands of accident victims and health care heroes across the state. And the Michigan Court of Appeals decision only helps people whose policies were in force and whose injuries took place before the no-fault laws changed. So, if you’re hurt in an accident going forward, you could find your coverage totally inadequate to safeguard yourself and your family’s finances. As we’ve said more than once here, the best way to protect yourself is not to skimp on Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage when buying a no-fault policy. Always choose unlimited PIP benefits if you can afford to pay the premiums.
We’ve Got You Covered
Finally, we should reiterate that the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling on the case we’ve mentioned will almost certainly be appealed to the state’s supreme court. That’s a worrisome circumstance. Watch your local news outlets for up-to-the-minute coverage of this situation if and when it happens. And cross your fingers that the plaintiffs will continue to get all the protection they paid for and truly deserve.
In conclusion, we want to assure current, past, and potential clients that we’ll stand with you before – and even long after – your case goes to trial. You can depend on us to back you up throughout the legal process, from the initial filing of your lawsuit and even through the appeals process if that should ever be necessary. It’s just the right thing to do. So, call 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or chat with us whenever you need to. And if, like us, you’re worried about the negative impacts of the changes to no-fault insurance we’ve described here, we urge you to contact your state legislators in the Michigan House of Representatives or the Michigan Senate.