You do not need a lawyer to fill out an application for No-Fault benefits. But after helping hundreds of car accident injury victims with their benefits in Michigan, our insurance attorneys would like to share some helpful hints.
The most important part of setting up a No-Fault claim
In Michigan, an auto accident victim sets up a No-Fault claim with his or her auto insurance company by filing an “application for benefits.” This is literally an application. The application must be filed within one year after a car accident. Under Michigan’s No-Fault Law, MCL 500.3145(1), a Michigan auto accident victim who seeks No-Fault benefits must give “written notice of injury” to her No Fault auto insurance company “within 1 year after the accident …” and “Indicate in ordinary language [in the written notice of injury] … the time, place and nature of [her] injury.” An “application for benefits” is the “written notice of injury” referenced in the No-Fault Law. By timely filing an “application for benefits,” an auto accident victim becomes entitled to No- Fault benefits such as unlimited lifetime medical coverage, wage loss, replacement services, attendant care, mileage and prescription reimbursement.
You MUST apply for No-Fault insurance benefits within one year of the accident
Failure to file an application for benefits within one year of an automobile accident will be fatal to an auto accident victim’s attempt to collect and/or sue for No-Fault benefits. A No-Fault auto insurance company is not obligated to pay benefits nor can it be sued for non-payment if the auto accident victim failed to give an “application for benefits” or otherwise provide a “written notice of injury” to the No-Fault insurer within one year of the accident. This is really important because every year, I am contacted by people who thought they were going to get better – but did not. These people went on to undergo very expensive medical treatment, such as back surgery, that has required them to miss months of work. Because they did not file an application for benefits within one year, it is too late and there’s nothing I can do to help them get their No-Fault insurance benefits.
Indicating the personal injury to your auto insurance company
Aside from complying with the one-year filing limitation, the most important aspect of an “application for benefits” is the requirement that an auto accident victim “indicate in ordinary language the nature of her injury.” If an auto accident victim does not “indicate” her particular “injury” – or injuries – in her application for benefits, then she will be barred from receiving No-Fault benefits related to that injury or those personal injuries. Michigan courts have ruled that the only accident-related injuries for which No-Fault benefits may be sought are those injuries which the auto accident victim “indicated” in an application for benefits filed within the first year after the accident.
We know you’re not a doctor, but you have to list your personal injuries
It is crucial that a Michigan auto accident victim include or “indicate” in her application for benefits each and every injury that she suffered as result of the accident. Although the No-Fault Law uses the singular “injury,” Michigan auto accident victims are not limited to including or indicating only one injury in their application for benefits. Complying with the “injury” – or injuries – requirement is relatively simple and easy. If a victim injured her back in an auto accident, then she should indicate “back injury” on her “application for benefits” form or whatever other injury the victim suffered in the accident. You are not required to write the actual medical diagnosis in the application for benefits. But, you do have to list out all your injuries or your insurance company will refuse to pay for the medical bills of injuries that were not listed on your application for benefits.
Staying current on your application for No-Fault benefits, when injuries change
The “application for benefits” is not necessarily a one-shot deal for notifying a No-Fault insurer of an auto accident victim’s accident-related injuries. If an accident-related injury only becomes symptomatic after or is not properly diagnosed until after an auto accident victim has filed her “application for benefits,” then she can indicate the injury in an “application for benefits — addendum” – so long as the addendum is filed within the one-year-from-the-date-of-the-accident filing limitation.