FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DETROIT, Mich. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) applauds today’s decision by the Michigan Supreme Court to protect the rights of people who sustained catastrophic injuries in car crashes before state insurance laws were changed in 2019.
At issue in the case, Andary v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company, was whether the changes in Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law, which impose strict new limitations on the care available to accident survivors, can be applied to people who were injured before the new law took effect but still need care on an ongoing basis. The ACLU, joined by Disability Rights Michigan, Detroit Disability Power, Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council, Legal Services Association of Michigan, and the Michigan State Planning Body, had submitted a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to find that the law is not retroactive.
The coalition’s brief specifically argued that the services and benefits provided by post-accident health care are essential to facilitating the equal citizenship of people with disabilities guaranteed by the Michigan Constitution, and as a result courts should not lightly infer that new legislation is intended to retroactively take those essential services and benefits away. Instead, courts should look for a “clear statement” that doing so was the Legislature’s intent, which was not present here.
The Court, in its ruling, agreed, holding that accident survivors’ “vested contractual right to continuation of . . . benefits at pre-amendment levels cannot be stripped away or diminished when the Legislature has failed to clearly state its intent to do so.”
Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan Legal Director, said this about the ruling:
“The Michigan Supreme Court made the correct legal decision, as well as a humane one, when it ruled that changes in Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law cannot be applied retroactively to people suffering catastrophic injuries in car crashes that occurred prior to 2019.
“Applying the law retroactively has resulted in the withdrawal of critical care from people who are living with severe disabilities as a result of catastrophic injuries suffered in car accidents—care that allows them to continue living their lives and participate in society.
“Because of this ruling, it is our hope that thousands of Michiganders seriously injured in auto accidents, and receiving crucial care and resources through insurance coverage, won’t have their lives dangerously upended.”