Survivor’s Loss Benefits and Who Is Entitled to Them
All Michigan car accidents are scary events. However, Michigan car wrecks involving a fatality are tragic and life changing. Besides claiming pain and suffering compensation under the Michigan Wrongful Death Act, certain individuals are also able to claim benefits under the Michigan No-Fault Law in the case of a motor vehicle accident. These benefits are called Michigan Survivor’s Benefits.
First, to be able to obtain Michigan survivor’s loss benefits, you have to be eligible. And to be eligible for benefits, there must be a dependent.
So What Is A Dependent?
According to MCL 500.3110, a dependent is any one of the following:
- A wife is dependent of a husband with whom she lives with at the time of his death;
- A husband is dependent on a wife with whom he lives with at the time of her death;
- A child under the age of 18;
- A child over the age of 18 but physically or mentally incapacitated from earning is dependent on the parent with he lives or from whom he receives support regularly at the time of the death of the parent.
- In all other cases, questions of dependent and the extent of dependency shall be determined in accordance with the facts as they exist at the time of death.
- The dependency of a surviving spouse is terminated upon death or remarriage. In all other cases, dependency must be determined on a case by case basis with the facts as they exist at the time of death.
These rules are strictly enforced. So if a person dies in a car accident, but is not married and doesn’t have any children, no Estate can be created for the purpose of other family members obtaining Michigan survivor’s loss benefits. On the other hand, a spouse with no children is eligible. In addition, an unmarried person that dies in a car accident but has a child under the age of 18 is also eligible.
Situations involving children over the age of 18 are more complicated. Typically, children over 18 are not considered dependents. However, if proof is submitted that showed the child was financially dependent upon the deceased parent for food, shelter and other things, then a claim can be pursued for survivor’s loss benefits although it will be up to the court to decide if the criteria for dependency has been met.
What Benefits Are Dependents Entitled To?
The no-fault benefits available for a survivor’s loss claim are vast. Under MCL 500.3108, the benefits are divided into two main categories: (1) contributions of tangible things of economic value and (2) replacement services.
First, an explanation as to what “contributions of tangible things of economic value” is required. The most basic item is lost wages. Under the law, survivor’s loss benefits include the wages after taxes the decedent was earning at the time of the car accident. So if the person was working at General Motors or Costco at the time of the accident, a dependent is entitled to the decedent’s wages subtracting the taxes the decedent would have paid. This is available for three years from the date of the car accident.
However, contributions of tangible things of economic value are more than just wage loss benefits. Under the law, it also includes the value of lost fringe benefits. Fringe benefits can include a pension, profit sharing plans, child support, even certain types of loans.
As a result, it is important to evaluate the total income (not just wages and salary) that a decedent was contributing at the time of his or her death.
In addition to contributions of tangible things of economic value, replacement services are also a benefit included in survivor’s loss claims. Replacement services typically include the household chores and other basic tasks the deceased person used to do and must be replaced due to a car accident related death. The amount of replacement services to be paid by an insurance carrier cannot exceed $20.00 per day.
The amount of survivor’s loss benefits payable to dependents and the Estate is subject to a monthly maximum. That monthly maximum is adjusted each year. Currently, the monthly maximum is $5,452.00.
Certain set-offs can be utilized by car insurance carriers in paying survivor’s loss benefits. For example, if a child is receiving monthly Social Security death benefits following the death of a parent from a car accident, the carrier can offset the monthly death benefit from the survivor’s loss benefits it is obligated to pay. Other set-offs can include military benefits and worker’s compensation checks.
Please contact us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) if you have any questions about Michigan survivor’s loss benefits.