Same-Sex Marriage and Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Law

Same-Sex Marriage and Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Law

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Recently, in the landmark decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples who wish to be married. While it was anticipated that this ruling would have an enormous impact on numerous state-wide bans on same-sex marriage across the country, a lesser known consequence has been the effect on auto insurance no-fault laws. For instance, the ruling has extended multiple benefits under Michigan’s no-fault auto law to same-sex couples living in the state.

Spousal Rights to No-Fault Benefits

Under Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law, a citizen of the state who is injured in a car accident is owed certain benefits from his or her automobile insurance, including:

  • Compensation for loss of wages when injuries prevent a victim from working;
  • Survivor’s loss benefits in the event that the injuries sustained in the accident were fatal;
  • Allowable expense benefits which are intended to help provide for the victim’s care, recovery, or rehabilitation; and
  • Replacement service expenses that cover the costs associated with more domestic-type services.

However, in the event that the victim is a passenger who does not have auto insurance, he or she can still recover from a spouse’s insurance provider.

Prior to the Obergefell ruling, same-sex partners could not receive benefits under each other’s no-fault insurance because, under then-existing state law, same-sex marriage was not permitted. The invalidation of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage has opened the door to same-sex spouses who have been injured in motor vehicle collisions, allowing them to receive benefits from their spouse’s no-fault insurers.

Survivor’s Loss Benefits

Another benefit provided to victims of car accidents under Michigan’s no-fault auto law is what is known as the “survivor’s loss benefit.” This benefit requires a no-fault insurer to provide compensation to the dependents of someone who is killed as a result of an automobile collision. These benefits include:

  • Compensation for unlimited lifetime medical bills;
  • Home or vehicle modification, in the event that the injuries sustained in the accident require permanent alterations like the widening of doorways or the construction of ramps
  • Mileage to and from hospitals and other healthcare facilities; and
  • Lost wages.

Under Michigan law, the deceased’s spouse, along with any minor children under the age of 18, are automatically considered to be dependents, with no further evidentiary showings required. Individuals other than spouses and minor children, however, have to show in each particular case that their circumstances qualify them as dependents.

Again, the state’s same-sex marriage ban made it impossible for same-sex couples to gain the benefits of their partner’s no-fault insurance through their designation as “spouse.” But now, since same-sex couples are able to wed in Michigan, they no longer must prove that their individual circumstances warrant a finding of dependency. Instead, they may automatically qualify for survivor’s loss benefits as spouses.

Dedicated Auto Accident Attorneys Fight for Your Rights

If you or your spouse has suffered an injury in Mt. Morris because of an automobile accident, please contact a personal injury attorney at Nickola Law to schedule a free phone consultation.

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