No-Fault Explained: Dependents Benefits

In a fatal car accident, the motorist isn’t able to receive no-fault benefits directly, but that doesn’t mean those benefits are lost. Instead, they go to the person’s dependents.

In a fatal auto accident case, the person who died is called the “decedent” or the “deceased.” Were this person still alive he or she would be entitled to no-fault benefits, but because he or she has died, someone else must file the claim and bring the lawsuit on his or her behalf. The resulting no-fault benefits are paid to the deceased’s dependents.

Who Are Your Dependents?

Generally, according to MCL 500.3110, your dependents are the people who live with you and depend on you to provide for their needs, either with your money or your time. Under the Michigan No-Fault Act, certain people are “conclusively presumed” to be dependents:

  • Spouses who lived with the deceased at the time of his or her death;
  • Children up to age 18 who lived with the deceased at the time of his or her death or received support from the deceased (such as child support from a non-custodial parent);
  • Adult children over age 18 who suffer from  physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from working, as long as they lived with the deceased at the time of his or her death or received support from the deceased.

Because of the “conclusive presumption,” the insurance company can’t argue that your spouse didn’t actually depend on you (maybe because she was the primary bread winner), or that your children weren’t really your dependents. Instead, challenges to dependents’ ability to claim benefits are limited to where they lived at the time of the deceased’s death, or, in the case of children, whether the deceased was regularly proving support.

You may have other dependents as well, such as aging parents, foster children, or relatives who you provide for. They may be entitled to receive benefits as well, but their eligibility as dependents will be based on the individual facts of their case.

What are Survivors’ Benefits?

Dependents of a deceased no-fault insurance policy holder are entitled to many of the same benefits as if the person survived. But some benefits are calculated differently.

Funeral and Burial Expenses. In addition to medical expenses resulting from an auto accident, dependents can recover reasonable burial and funeral expenses.

Lost Income. A survivor’s income loss is broader than wage loss and includes fringe benefits, like health insurance that the decedent’s employment would have provided, plus lost wages, salary, and other income.

Replacement Services. Dependents are entitled to up to $20 per day to pay for lawn care, child care, and other household services that the deceased could have performed, but now need to be hired out.

The survivors’ benefits are capped at a rate that increases each year. It is currently just over $5,300. The no-fault auto accident attorneys at Christensen Law can help you and your family calculate, document, and prove what benefits your are entitled to after a fatal car accident.