(WXMI) — Michigan drivers who have paid into the state’s catastrophic claims fund are receiving payments from the state. It's expected to hit driver’s accounts sometime in the second quarter of 2022.
Anyone who had a vehicle registered to their name as of October 2021 will receive $400-per-vehicle refunds.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services said on Tuesday that the MCCA finished June 2021 with a $5 billion surplus, and roughly $3 billion will be used for the payouts.
“Michiganders have paid into the catastrophic care fund for decades, and I am pleased that the MCCA developed this plan so quickly after unanimously approving my request to return surplus funds to the pockets of Michiganders,” read a statement from the governor’s office. “We are working together to put Michigan drivers first.”
But attorneys for some survivors of catastrophic crashes, left forever changed and in need of constant care, argue the money should be used for their clients.
“We have to really consider who is getting paid these funds and who these funds were originally promised for,” said Nick Andrews, an attorney with firm Liss, Seder & Andrews, who represent many crash survivors. “I think a lot of people — if they knew what was behind getting these refunds — I think they’d really have real pause about it.”
Andrews said the MCCA currently has a pool of $29 billion to pay out to the roughly 18,000 sufferers of catastrophic car accidents, but not everyone is getting equal — or enough — access to the money. When the state’s new no-fault laws took effect in July of this year, it cut catastrophic crash survivors' access to care by 45%.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the one group of individuals that were not considered in all of this were the catastrophically injured,” said Andrews, specifically mentioning a client of his named Alva, a quadriplegic who required round-the-clock care. After the new no-fault laws, Alva was left with just $6.87 an hour to pay for care, less than minimum wage. Andrews said she has caretakers come for an hour in the morning, then she’s by herself the rest of the day, left to fend for herself.
“They have to leave her alone during the day and that’s dangerous for her,” said Andrews. “Those funds should be available for her to hire the care providers that she needs. So when we think about getting this $400 paycheck…we’re getting it because Alva isn’t getting the payment for care providers that she needs.”