Michigan court affirms critical benefits for thousands badly hurt in car wrecks

31 July 2023

DETROIT (AP) — People who were catastrophically injured in car wrecks before the summer of 2019 can continue to bill insurance companies for ongoing care, the Michigan Supreme Court said Monday in a decision that provides critical relief for thousands of people.

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

Suddenly, benefits were at risk for roughly 18,000 people.

In a 5-2 opinion, the Supreme Court said a “vested contractual right” to ongoing benefits “cannot be stripped away or diminished,” especially when lawmakers failed to declare an intent to do so when they changed the law.

In an effort to lower Michigan’s insurance rates, which were among the highest in the U.S., the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer agreed to sweeping changes in 2019.

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