April 28, 2017
Volume XXIX, No. 7

 

SUPREME COURT REVERSES ON ISSUE REGARDING “WRITTEN NOTICE OF INJURY” REQUIREMENT OF MCL 500.3145(1)

 By L. Ladd Culbertson

The Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion reversing Perkovic v Zurich American Ins. Co., 312 Mich App 244 (2015), in which the Court of Appeals held that the mere submission of medical bills and medical records was insufficient to meet the notice requirement of MCL 500.3145(1), since the submission lacked any specific statement claiming benefits. The Michigan Supreme Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals and held that the necessary information was provided and, therefore, “notice” under the statute was satisfied.

The statute examined by the Court, in relevant part, states as follows:

An action for recovery of personal protection insurance benefits payable under this chapter for accidental bodily injury may not be commenced later than 1 year after the date of the accident causing the injury unless written notice of injury as provided herein has been given to the insurer within 1 year after the accident…. The notice of injury required by this subsection may be given to the insurer or any of its authorized agents by a person claiming to be entitled to benefits therefor, or by someone in his behalf. The notice shall give the name and address of the claimant and indicate in ordinary language the name of the person injured and the time, place and nature of his injury. MCLA 500.3145(1)(Emphasis added).

The Court of Appeals had previously held in Perkovic that, although the medical bills and records which had been submitted included all of the information required by the final sentence of §3145(1), the documents did not demonstrate an intent to make a claim for no-fault benefits. The Court of Appeals held that the submission of those records did not serve the purpose of a notice provision – that is, to provide time for the insurer to investigate and appropriate funds for settlement purposes. The appellate court reasoned that nothing about the medical records and bills sent to the defendant insurer would have alerted the insurer to the possible pendency of a no-fault claim.

The Supreme Court disagreed. The Court concluded that nothing in the statute suggested that its purpose was “to provide time to investigate and to appropriate funds for settlement purposes,” or that such a purpose should override the requirements which were expressly listed in the language of the statute.

Instead, the Court pointed out that the first sentence of MCL 500.3145(1) operates as an exception to the one-year statute of limitations when “written notice of injury as provided herein has been given to the insurer within 1 year after the accident.” The statute further provides that notice of the injury may be given to the insurer by the person claiming benefits, or by someone on his behalf. Finally, the last sentence of §3145(1) requires that the notice must include “the name and address of the claimant and indicate in ordinary language the name of the person injured and the time, place and nature of his injury.” MCL 500.3145(1).

The Supreme Court noted that §3145(1) did not specify a particular format in which this notice must be presented, nor does the statute require language explicitly indicating that a possible claim for benefits was being made. The Court further noted that the fact that the notice had been supplied by a third-party, in this case a medical provider, rather than by the injured person, was immaterial. The language of the statute allows that the notice may either be supplied by the person claiming entitlement to the benefits, “or by someone in his behalf.”

For these reasons, where the bills and medical records contain all of the information required under §3145(1), including (1) the name and address of the claimant; (2) the name of the person injured; and (3) the time, place and nature of his injury, then the notice requirements of MCL 500.3145 have been met.

Ladd is a Shareholder in our Grand Rapids Office. He can be reached at 616.742.5500 or lculbertson@garanlucow.com

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MAY 18, 2017

Marriott Indianapolis North
3645 River Crossing Parkway
Indianapolis, IN 46240

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A TRAVELING DEPOSITION BOOT CAMP

This complimentary Deposition Boot Camp would be presented to a group of 10 or more in your office, as a half-day session.

This is an ideal presentation for new claim representatives. Based upon decades of experience, each Boot Camp addresses the Plaintiff’s reasons and motivations for deposing claims professionals, what needs to be done to prepare for the deposition, how to conduct oneself during a deposition, and practical “do’s and don’t’s” for claims professionals before and during the deposition. Practical demonstrations and participation in role-play scenarios complement and complete the presentation.

Please contact Eileen Carty at ecarty@garanlucow.com or (248) 641-7600 to schedule a complimentary in-house presentation.

For inquires, upcoming seminars, or in-house seminar requests please contact Eileen Carty at ecarty@garanlucow.com

Sarah Nadeau, Editor of the Law Fax Publication,

is a Shareholder in our Detroit Office.
Sarah can be reached at 313.446.1530 or snadeau@garanlucow.com

 

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