NATIONAL NEWS

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

Jul 31, 2023, 6:48 AM

FILE - Health aide Angela Martin helps former Detroit Red Wings star Vladimir Konstantinov into his...

FILE - Health aide Angela Martin helps former Detroit Red Wings star Vladimir Konstantinov into his wheelchair on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in West Bloomfield, Mich. Konstantinov suffered a severe brain stem injury from an accident in a limousine with an impaired driver after a Stanley Cup celebration nearly 25 years ago. He was in danger of losing his 24/7 care he has had for two-plus decades, but major changes in Michigan car insurance law do not apply to people who were severely injured before summer 2019, the state appeals court said Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. It is a victory for long-term victims of motor vehicle crashes and their care providers. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

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