Congressman Dave Camp represents the people of the 4th Congressional District of Michigan, which spans from Owosso to Greenville and northward to Traverse City and the Leelanau peninsula. Camp is the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, which is one of the oldest and most powerful committees in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In his leadership role, Camp is one of the most influential policymakers in Washington, DC, helping to set the nation’s economic, health care and social welfare policies. His committee has sole jurisdiction over tax policy and oversees tariff and trade laws, Medicare, Social Security, and welfare and unemployment programs.

Representative Camp contacted our office to make sure we and our clients were aware of the many Rural Development Loan and Grant programs that were available to folks throughout Michigan. These loan and grant programs are available to families, farms, businesses, non profits, and public bodies like municipal and county governments.

The Development Programs include:

1. A Housing Program with available funds to repair, improve, winterize, construct, or purchase homes.

2. A Business and Cooperative Development Program with funding for acquisition, start-up and expansion. There are also monies available to provide economic planning for rural communities, technical assistance for rural entrepreneurs and economics development officials, as well as land acquisitions and construction of new businesses and community development projects.  Funding for project costs for renewable energy and efficiency projects such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and other renewable energy sources is also available.

3. Community Programs (Utilities and Community Facilities) with loans and grants for waste and water disposal, waste and water pre-development, solid waste management and the construction, equipment purchase and operation of facilities for fire and rescue.

4. Telecommunication Programs to assist with funding of electric and telecommunication programs for non-profits, cooperative associations and public bodies, as well as development and deployment of distance learning, telemedicine and broadband systems.

At Smith & Johnson, we are uniquely positioned to assist governmental entities, non profits, businesses and individuals who are looking to take advantage of the loan and grant opportunities made available through the hard work by Representative Camp.

Here’s  video of USDA Under Secretary of rural Development Dallas Tonsager discussing some of the challenges and opportunities facing the rural communities on a go forward.

Feel free to contact Louis Smith at 231.946.0700 or lsmith@smith-johnson.com with any questions or concerns about these programs.

Everyone knows that no matter where you live, you are required by law to have car insurance. Michigan is no exception to this. Also, Michigan is a no-fault auto insurance state. In Michigan, your no-fault insurance pays all your medical bills in the event that you are injured in an auto accident. So, if you have the minimum required no-fault insurance you have all the insurance you need, right?

Actually, wrong, for a number of reasons. Basic no-fault insurance doesn’t pay to have your car repaired. Nor does it pay if your car is stolen. To cover those costs you will need collision and comprehensive insurance. But beyond those situations you should seriously think about getting uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

Here are some reasons why:

While no-fault insurance covers your medical costs and lost wages without regard to who is at fault, there are some situations in which personal injury claims against the at fault driver are allowed. Suits are permitted in accidents in which there have been a death or severe bodily injury or permanent disfigurement. Essentially, in these cases, the injured party will be allowed to sue to recover pain and suffering damages from the person at fault.

This is fine, as far as it goes, but what happens in the event that the at fault driver is either uninsured, or has insurance with very minimal coverage? The answer is that the injured party gets little or no recovery. UM/UIM insurance bridges any gap between what an injured party is entitled to and the limits of the at fault party’s insurance coverage.

Assume that you are severely injured in an auto accident. Assume further, that a jury finds you are entitled to $100,000 of compensation for pain and suffering. If the driver has only $20,000 in coverage [the minimum required here in Michigan], you will lose any amounts above that figure. If you had $100,000 or more worth of UM/UIM insurance, you would receive the entire sum awarded to you by the jury.

Essentially, underinsured and uninsured motorist coverages are the only coverages that cover you for bodily injury if you are injured, maimed or killed by another driver’s negligence. You may have purchased an expensive policy with $500,000 limits on bodily injury, but, that is the money that your company pays to someone that YOU hurt when YOU cause an accident. It doesn’t help you one bit when someone runs a stop sign and injures you.

The only way to be fully protected in case of an accident is to purchase and maintain underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. Check with your agent right now to make sure that you have the coverage in place to protect you and your family.

Michigan consumers are shocked when they learn that their auto insurer is not their advocate but instead is their primary adversary. Despite responsibly paying those costly premiums for mandatory no-fault insurance, injured accident victims are repeatedly dismayed when they learn that their very own no-fault insurer’s/adjuster’s strategic goal in handling their claim is to find (or many times, manufacture) an excuse to deny paying medical bills and lost wages. Michigan consumers need to know what their legal rights are and how to fight back to recover the benefits they paid for, for all those years without having to make a claim.

Your No-Fault Rights and What You Must Do to Protect Them

Introduction

This article provides you a general understanding of your rights under the Michigan No-Fault Insurance Law. It also provides you helpful suggestions to protect your potential benefit claims. This article is not all-inclusive because there are several exceptions and exclusions to No-Fault benefits which may be applicable to your claim or case; therefore, you should not rely on this post as legal advice.
Your Legal Rights
When you are involved in an automobile accident, you are entitled to certain benefits under the Michigan No-Fault Insurance law, regardless of fault. Your basic no-fault benefits potentially available to you include coverage for your medical expenses, wage loss, household services and survivor’s loss.

Your auto insurance company is required to pay these benefits to you within 30 days from when it receives reasonable proof of your claim, e.g., copies of your medical records validating your injury and temporary disability from work. If your insurance company does not pay your benefits after 30 days, it is also required to pay you 12% interest per annum as to each claim. If your auto insurer unreasonably denies your claim, you may also be able to recover reasonable attorneys fees.

Also recognize that because you were injured, you may have a separate legal claim against the at-fault driver, the owner of the vehicle involved and/or your own insurance company (if the at-fault driver was not insured) for fair compensation for your injury, disfigurement, pain and suffering.
What Should You Do If Your Auto Insurance Company Does Not Pay or
Denies Your Claim?

You must file a lawsuit within 12 months from the date that you incurred the particular expense not paid or denied; otherwise, you will lose all rights to be reimbursed for that particular expense. While you have 12 months to file a lawsuit, it is advisable to seek legal representation as soon as you are experiencing difficulty with your auto insurance company so that your lawsuit/claim is properly documented and preserved.

Your No-Fault Benefits

Medical expenses: all reasonable charges for products, services and accommodations reasonably necessary for your care, recovery or rehabilitation for injuries caused by the auto accident. These benefits are available to you for as long as you live. Common examples include hospital care, doctor visits, physical therapy, and prescriptions and family provided attendant care; related expenses may also include mileage to and from the medical care providers or handicapper modifications to your home and/or vehicle.

Importantly, your no-fault insurer cannot direct or dictate where, when or why you receive medical care. You should resist any attempt by it or a nurse case manager it assigns to you, to manage your care. And regarding nurse case managers, you can choose your own too and not accept the person “assigned to you”. The assigned case manager typically has one motivation and that is to please the no-fault insurer’s ultimate goal: reduce payments.

Wage loss: you are entitled to a minimum of 85% of your lost wages for time off due to your injuries caused by the auto accident. This benefit is available to you for up to 3 years from the date of the accident but is subject to a maximum monthly benefit, adjusted every year by the Michigan Insurance Bureau.

Replacement services: you are entitled up to $20.00 dollars a day for up to 3 years from the date of the accident, for reasonably incurred expenses for ordinary services performed by family or friends, that you traditionally performed but now cannot because of your injuries. Examples of such services include, but are not limited to, ordinary household tasks like mowing the lawn, cleaning, laundry, etc.

Survivor’s loss: the dependents (spouse and children) of a deceased individual who is killed in an automobile accident are entitled to a survivor=s loss benefit for up to 3 years from the date of the accident, subject to the same maximum monthly benefit formula applied to wage loss.
Coordinated Benefits & Setoffs
If you have other health or accident coverage through you employer or spouse, you may have purchased coordinated auto no-fault coverage for a lesser premium. If so, then your health coverage is primary and your auto coverage only pays for expense not covered by your primary health coverage.

Whether you have purchased coordinated no-fault coverage, your auto insurer is able to reduce your benefits that are available to you under state of federal law. A critical exception is that neither Medicare nor Medicaid is responsible for medical expenses when no-fault coverage is available. In that instance, no-fault is always primary.
What Should You Do?
A. If injured, immediately seek legal counsel regarding your potential claim for injury, disfigurement and suffering against the other driver.

B. Immediately file an Application for No-Fault Benefits with your insurance company. Failure to do so within 12 months of your automobile accident will prevent you from ever obtaining those benefits that you are entitled to receive.

C. Monthly, submit a claim letter for reimbursement of medical expenses, wage loss and replacement services. Always include your name, claim number and date of the accident. Always submit, if available, copies of your receipts, work releases or notes from your doctors or your employer, and summaries of household jobs done on your behalf (see below).

Medical Expenses:

A. Inform all medical providers (hospitals, doctors, etc.) of your insurance company name and claim number.
B. Submit copies of all receipts for medical expenses incurred (e.g., prescriptions) to your insurance company.
C. Keep a log or diary of all miles driven to and from medical providers.
D. Request letters from physicians/therapists recommending needed expenditures for rehabilitation devices or equipment.
E. If requested to submit to an independent medical exam set up by your insurance company, take a family member or friend with you and time the duration of the entire exam.

Wage loss:

A. Request letters or notes from your doctor(s) who have placed you on work restrictions with the applicable dates; diary or log each and every day missed from work (if an hourly employee, calculate hours for potential overtime loss).

Replacement services:

A. Orally or in writing agree to pay family members or friends up to $20.00 dollars a day for help around the home.
B. Diary or log all services performed on your behalf identifying the nature of the service performed and who performed it.
C. Request letters or notes from your doctor(s) who have placed you on general restrictions (e.g., no lifting).

Authored by L. Page Graves