There is an old saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Sadly, in the realm of the occasionally illogical world of Michigan No Fault law, the saying has potential application when it comes to a friend or family member providing assistance to an injured motorcyclist after an accident involving a car or truck.
Among the package of no-fault benefits provided under the law, the insurance company is required to pay for attendant care services after Michigan motorcycle accident if another motor vehicle is involved, which essentially means any services rendered to an injured person that are similar to what a home aide would provide (i.e. cooking, changing bandages, assisting with bathing, assisting with grooming, etc).
The law also requires the insurance company to pay for replacement services, which essentially means any services rendered to an injured person that he/she ordinarily would have done for himself/herself had he/she not been injured in the accident. (i.e., mow the lawn, clean house, laundry, shovel snow, yard work, etc.)
Many injured persons are fortunate enough to have strong support systems at home with friends and family members who are more than willing to help out their loved ones after they have been injured in an accident. I have had many cases where a neighbor has cut the lawn for a summer for his injured friend next door who fractured his hip in an accident, a husband has taken up the cooking duties for his wife who injured her back in an accident, or a wife who now needs to assist her husband in the shower because he can’t reach up with his injured shoulder to wash his own hair.
Seems like a no brainer that these good Samaritans are entitled to payment for the attendant care and replacement services they have performed, right? Not so fast.
Our Michigan Supreme Court has stated that for attendant care and replacement services expenses to be payable by the insurance company, these expenses must be “incurred” by the injured person. The Court went on to say that to be incurred, the friend or family member “must perform the services with a reasonable expectation of payment.”
In the situation of a friend or family member helping out a loved one, they are often not doing it with the expectation that they will be paid for their services. They are doing it because they care about the injured person and don’t want to see them struggle. In fact, many people helping out an injured friend or family member after an accident are not even aware that the law provides for payment for these services!
As unfair as it may seem, insurance companies have no hesitation to raise this as a defense to escape from having to pay friends and family members who have provided months or even years of attendant care or replacement services to an injured person out of the goodness of their hearts, even though the insurance company failed to let them know that they were entitled to be paid for these services.
So let this month’s column serve as a public service announcement to those friends and family members who are or would help out someone they care about after being injured in Michigan motorcycle accident: Offer your assistance to your loved one, but now that you know you are entitled to be paid for your services by the insurance company, expect to be paid!
Maybe now a few less good deeds will go unpunished by the insurance company.