Insurer wins dispute by arguing medical bill doesn't demonstrate "an intent to make a claim."
The current domination of Michigan's judiciary by the insurance industry was perhaps never more evident than in this week's decision in Perkovic v. Zurich American Insurance Company. Perkovic is a truck driver who was injured in Nebraska. The insurers of his personal auto, his "bobtail" and the trailer he was pulling all disputed priority to pay his ER bill, apparently.
The custodian of medical records for the Nebraska Medical Center sent its bill to Zurich, along with medical records describing Perkovic's injuries and the motor vehicle collision. Zurich acknowledged that all of the factual information required under the no fault statute was provided to it, but argued that the billing didn't inform it of the Medical Center's "intent to make a [PIP] claim" within the one year limitation.
Stunningly, the Court of Appeals agreed. Apparently, either the injured man or his health care providers needed to write, at the top of the bill, the words "This billing statement is submitted to you so that you will pay this claim." The insurance-friendly activist judges nominated by the Republican Party have turned Michigan law--which formerly recognized a liberal interpretation of the No Fault law to secure prompt payment of claims without litigation--on its head. Where prior law eschewed procedural gimmicks and loopholes and emphasized the achievement of substantial justice, current Michigan law readily denies substantial justice if any arguable procedural defect can be identified. Where Michigan law formerly required an insurer or defendant to identify some prejudice resulting from a procedural defect and held all parties to a similar standard of pleading, the current Republican majority expressly rejects such a balanced view.