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Conservators' right of recovery under no fault is carefully defined after Supreme Court limits

The Michigan Supreme Court's Republican majority recently limited the expenses an injured person's Conservator may recover from the no fault insurer.  Prior to this latest example of judicial activism, the Michigan Courts had allowed a conservator for an injured person to recover all of the expenses resulting from the victim's accident and injury.  About a month ago, the Republicans added additional restrictions to what a conservator may require.  This week, the Court of Appeals attempted to explain the impact of those requirements.

Under the no fault act, an injury victim's auto insurer is required to pay for all of the victim's medical needs (all of the expenses necessary for "care, recovery and rehabilitation" arising out of the accident injuries.  This obligation is unlimited and lasts for the victim's lifetime.  The insurer must also pay up to $20.00 per day for three years to compensate for the ordinary services the victim can no longer perform.  Prior to 2012 Republican judicial activism, the wrongdoer, if there was one, was obligated to pay service expenses that exceeded $20.00 per day or that continued after three years.  In August of last year, the Court's Republican majority overturned this long-standing interpretation of the 1974 No Fault law and ruled that no one owes "excess" replacement service expenses.

As a follow-up to the latter "judicial activism," the Republican majority has now held that if an accident injury victim is so severely injured that a guardian or conservator must be appointed to manage the victim's affairs, he or she may only be compensated for those duties or expenses which relate directly to the victim's medical "care, recovery and rehabilitation."

One panel of the Court of Appeals dominated by Republican judges has read this revision of the interpretation of the no fault law so broadly that even the conservator's actions in attempting to secure payment for medical expenses is no longer compensable.  The decision this week by a more reasoned panel is more thoughtful and interprets the Supreme Court decision to allow compensation for all expenses that relate to the injured person's physical health and were not necessary prior to the injury.  For example, while the cost and preparation of meals pre-dated the injury and would have been necessary without regard to the injury, if the victim must consume meals in bed, the service is a compensable PIP benefit payable by the insurer.  Similarly, if the injured person requires help with bathing, dressing or exercise, or must be escorted to the physician's office or supervised in the administration of medication or dietary planniny or therapy, the conservator's time is compensable.  The needs must be extraordinary and peculiar to the victim's status as an injured person (emph in original).  The case is In re Estate of Edward Carroll.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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