CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE VOLUME

Volume XXVII, No. 13, June 2, 2015        

From the Law Offices of Garan Lucow Miller, P.C.

From the Editor: Sarah Nadeau 

****************************

A Plaintiff Is Not Entitled To Work-Loss Benefits When His Income Earned

In A Single 30-Day Period After An Accident Exceeds The Statutory Maximum

 

By Caryn Ford      

 

In Agnone v Home-Owners Insurance Company, ___ Mich App ___; ___ NW2d ___ (2015)[1], the Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the trial court’s order denying Home-Owners’ Motion for Summary Disposition and determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to no-fault work loss benefits because the income he earned in a single 30-day period after the accident exceeded the statutory maximum for work loss benefits under MCL 500.3107(1)(b).

In Agnone, the plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident in December 2009 and sought no-fault work loss benefits as a result of that accident.  The plaintiff owned and operated his own insurance agency.  Before the 2009 accident, he earned an average of $196,000 per year in gross income.  In 2010, he earned $220,000, but explained that the increase arose from work he performed before the accident.  His gross income then dropped to $140,000 in 2011 and to $135,000 in 2012.  The plaintiff sought work loss benefits equal to the difference between his average annual income in the preceding years and his actual annual income in the years after the accident.

Home-Owners filed a motion for partial summary disposition arguing that Plaintiff was not entitled to work-loss benefits under MCL 500.3107(1)(b) because his actual income after the accident exceeded $4,878, the statutory maximum per month provided under MCL 500.3107(1)(b).  Plaintiff responded that the statutory limit under MCL 500.3107(1)(b) applied to the difference between the income that he would have earned and his actual income and since his wage-loss for eachof the 30-day periods following the accident was less than the $4,878 maximum he was entitled to collect all of his lost income.  The trial court agreed with Plaintiff and denied Home-Owners’ motion.

Home-Owners filed an interlocutory appeal which was granted.  The Court of Appeals ultimately determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to work-loss benefits because the income he earned in a single 30-day period after the accident exceeded the statutory maximum for work loss benefits under MCL 500.3107(1)(b).

In reaching this decision, the Court recognized that “although the Legislature required no-fault insurers to compensate injured persons for their work loss occasioned by a motor vehicle accident, it also limited the extent of work loss that the no-fault insurer might be obligated to pay: ‘the benefits payable for work loss sustained in a single 30-day period together shall not exceed [4,878].’” The Court further recognized that the injured person’s income from work performed after the accident limits the work loss benefits wherein MCL 500.3107(1)(b) provides that “the benefits payable for work loss sustained in a single 30-day period and the income earned by an injured person for work during the same period together shall not exceed” the applicable maximum.

Relying on this plain language of MCL 500.3107(1)(b), the Court concluded that “if the income that the injured person actually earns for work performed during the relevant period exceeds the statutory maximum, as is the situation in this case, the work-loss benefit is reduced to zero because the “benefits payable for work loss . . . and the income earned . . . for work during the same period together” cannot exceed the applicable maximum.”  The Court reasoned that when the limitation on the work-loss benefit is analyzed in its proper context it is evident that the Legislature intended to allow a dollar-for-dollar work-loss benefit up to a specified income level – not up to a specified income loss.  Accordingly, under this analysis, Agnone was not entitled to any no-fault work-loss benefits because the income he earned in a single 30-day period after the accident exceeded the statutory maximum for work loss benefits under MCL 500.3107(1)(b).

Finally, it is important to note that while the Legislature determined that high income earners are not entitled to a work-loss benefit in excess of the adjusted minimum income level, the Legislature has not left injured persons with high income without a remedy for their work losses beyond the statutory maximum; those persons may sue an at-fault driver to recover their work losses in excess of the limits provided under MCL 500.3107(1)(b).

 

************************

REGISTER NOW! 

WINDY CITY SEMINAR

 

The 2015 Windy city Seminar will take place on Thursday, June 18, at the Chicago Marriott Schaumburg.

 

Please join us for a complimentary full day seminar, lunch will be included, also 6 Illinois Continuing Education Credits will be offered.

 

To register please contact Eileen Carty at: ecarty@garanlucow.com or 800-875-7600.

 

********************

Seminar Agenda: 

 

8:30 – 8:55 a.m.             Continental Breakfast and Registration. 

 

8:55 – 9:00 a.m.             Welcome and Introduction.

Speaker: David A. Couch, Esq. 

 

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.           Illinois First Party and Third Party Auto Law Updates.

Speaker: Jennifer E. Davis, Esq.

 

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.          Michigan Premises Liability Law Updates.

Speaker: David A. Couch, Esq. 

 

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.          Michigan Premises Liability Law Comparison With Adjacent State Laws.

Speaker: David A. Couch, Esq.

 

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.          Break

 

10:45 – 11:30 a.m.          Michigan First Party No-Fault (PIP) Updates.

Speaker: John W. Whitman, Esq. 

 

11:30 – 12:00 noon         Michigan Third Party Automobile Negligence Updates.

Speaker: David A. Couch, Esq.

 

12:00 – 12:15 p.m.         Question and Answer Session. 

 

12:15 – 12:30 p.m.         Examination on Michigan Law Topics and Comparison with Illinois Laws.

12:30 – 1:00 p.m.           Lunch provided at the Chicago Marriott Schaumburg 

 

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.             Trial and Deposition Boot Camp.

Presenters: John W. Whitman, Jennifer E. Davis, and David A. Couch  

 

**************************************

 

GLM DETROIT IS MOVING!

The new address for our Detroit office will be:

1155 Brewery Park Blvd.

Suite 200

Detroit, MI 48207

The new office space is known as Brewery Park and is at the site of the old Stroh Brewery (now Crain Communications).

We will be in our new location on Monday, June 29th, 2015.  All contact information for Detroit office employees will remain the same.  (Phone numbers and email address(es) will not change.)

The firm has long been committed to educating its clients in various areas of the law.  The new property, which is only a few blocks from our current location, will include a high-tech instructive classroom and space to have Webinars and connect digitally with clients across the country which will enable us to take educating our clients to another level.

To Register for your company’s individually tailored seminar please contact John Gillooly at 313.446.1530 or jgillooly@garanlucow.com

We look forward to serving each and every one of you in our new home.

 

***********************