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No-Fault Explained: Survivor Loss Benefits

After a fatal car accident, a family can be left with many questions: How will the bills get paid? Who will do the chores around the house? Where will we get the support we need going forward? The Michigan No-Fault Act allows for survivor loss benefits. These benefits help fill the gap left behind when a family member dies in a car crash.

applies whenever there is a fatal car accident. It allows the family of an accident victim to receive many of the same benefits available to survivors. On top of medical, funeral and burial expenses, a family is also entitled to benefits for the “loss of economic value.”

Many attorneys refer to this “loss of economic value” as survivor loss benefits. These include the demonstrated lack of support that would have been received if the person had carried on with their activities from before the accident. Here’s how they calculate the number:

1. Demonstrated Support

An auto accident attorney will use a person’s wages, taxes, bonuses, and other income information to determine how much support the person provided to her family each month. When a family’s primary breadwinner dies, this could end up being a considerable amount.

2. Replacement Services

The support a family member provides isn’t all about income. He might also have been the person responsible for lawn maintenance or child care. If those duties need to be delegated – to family members or professionals – then the family is entitled to up to $20 per day in replacement services. That gets added to either the demonstrated support and compared to the statutory maximum the no-fault provider is required to pay. For 2015-2016, that maximum is $5,398 per month.

3. Apply Set-Off Payments

Sometimes, there are other payments that a fatal car accident victim’s family is entitled to receive. Most commonly, when the accident happens on the job the employee will be entitled to Worker Compensation. Michigan no-fault law doesn’t let the families double dip. Instead, it will allow your no fault provider to “set off” benefits received from other sources. Once those amounts are determined, they are subtracted from the demonstrated support (or statutory maximum) to set the final reimbursement number.

Length of Support

In most cases, a killed motorist’s family will be entitled to these benefits for the first three years after the accident. Beyond those three years, the family will need to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver to collect additional, ongoing support.

Surviving Dependents

All of these benefits are payable to the motorists’ surviving dependents, most often her spouse and minor children. However, those benefits cut off when a person is no longer a dependent. For children, support ends when they turn 18 unless there are developmental disabilities. A spouse can accidentally end his eligibility by remarrying during the three year benefits period.

Calculating survivor loss benefits happens primarily behind the scenes. Ask your auto accident attorney to walk you through the calculations to make sure your family receives the most benefits possible.