After a car accident, people with severe injuries often need home health care to assist with medical needs, for safety supervision, or to help manage the routines and tasks of daily living. In Michigan, accident victims can receive compensation for caregiving costs through their no-fault auto insurance policies. These benefits are called attendant care services.
Attendant care is usually provided to a victim by a family member, a friend, or an outside home care agency. The challenge is knowing how much you should be paid by the insurance company. They frequently attempt to underpay for attendant care. The personal injury attorneys at Christensen Law can fight for the full amount of attendant care benefits you deserve after a wreck. Let our legal team review your case and discuss your options in a free consultation. Call now to speak with an Ann Arbor car accident attorney.
What is Attendant Care in Ann Arbor?
Attendant care is a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefit of your no-fault car insurance policy. It provides money for a caregiver to help you with daily tasks you cannot perform independently after a crash, such as showering, using the toilet, taking medications, and moving from place to place.
Attendant care services may be provided by family members, friends, or skilled nursing aides from a commercial health agency. If a friend or relative is your caregiver, you must inform the insurance company you expect compensation for their attendant care services. Otherwise, the insurer might argue your caregiver performed those duties out of compassion or a sense of obligation. The care provider must document their hours and what services they provided each day. A knowledgeable attorney can help clarify disputes with the insurance company regarding your attendant care benefits.
New Attendant Care Laws in Michigan
Michigan recently made sweeping reforms to its auto insurance laws, including its provisions for family and friend-provided attendant care.
Before the law passed, there was no limit on the number of attendant care hours a victim could receive each week. Now, insurance companies are only required to pay for 56 hours per week of in-home attendant care provided by a family member, a person who lives with the car accident victim, or someone who had a previous business or social relationship with the victim.
The limitation does not apply if the individual receives attendant care at a facility or from a nursing aide for a home health care agency.
But what if the victim needs round-the-clock assistance? Car accident survivors with catastrophic injuries often need 24/7 help. In these cases, the new law allows insurers to contract with the victim’s caregiver to provide reasonably necessary attendant services above the 56-hour weekly limit. We have been successful in obtaining agreements for 24/7 attendant care at full commercial hourly rates.
In the past, Michigan did not have a set hourly rate for attendant care services. Now, the rates are set by a Medicare-based fee schedule that doesn’t always work in the victim’s best interests. If you’re struggling, a car accident lawyer in Ann Arbor can work to negotiate a fair hourly rate for your attendant care or file a lawsuit demanding a reasonable rate.
Examples of Attendant Care Services
Attendant care can include both skilled and unskilled services. Examples of attendant care in Michigan include:
- At-home medical care
- Wound care
- Personal hygiene
- House cleaning
- Monitoring for safety reasons
- Helping with medical equipment
- Supervision with moving in and outside the home
Who Can Claim Caregiver Compensation?
Not just anyone can claim caregiver compensation under Michigan’s new no-fault law.
Potential caregivers can be:
- A family member
- A legal guardian
- Someone who lives with the victim
- Someone who had a business or social relationship with the accident victim before the crash
- A nurse or home-health provider from an outside agency
What is Excess Attendant Care in Michigan?
Excess attendant care is additional attendant care coverage purchased by an individual that goes above and beyond the PIP medical coverage limit. You may purchase this extra coverage based on your budget and personal needs.
Is Attendant Care Taxable Income in Michigan?
A car accident settlement from an insurance company is generally not considered taxable income in Michigan. So, any money the insurer pays the injured person for attendant care bills is not taxable to the injured person. But, when that money is paid to caregivers, it would be considered ordinary income and taxable.
Can I Sue for Attendant Care Benefits?
The new Michigan no-fault law’s 56-hour limit on family caregiving is now the same as Michigan’s workers’ compensation guidelines. Depending on the parameters of your specific PIP plan, you may not have attendant coverage for an unlimited amount of time, either. Compensation will be subject to the limits of your policy.
Seriously injured car accident victims could be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver for excess attendant care costs if they exhaust their policy limits. Hiring a car accident lawyer in Ann Arbor is crucial if you’re considering filing suit. An attorney will determine your ability to file a claim and how much money you may be entitled to.
Contact an Experienced Ann Arbor Car Accident Attorney
Michigan’s no-fault laws do not always look out for the best interests of victims, especially when it comes to attendant care services. How do you know that you and your caregiver are being compensated fairly? You may not have the answer — but the proven car accident lawyers at Christensen Law do.
It’s our duty to see that you get fully and fairly compensated for attendant care and other losses after a wreck. Call or contact us today for a free case review.