Anyone who has watched the local news or read the headlines knows we have had a string of awful, preventable, drunk driving crashes in our area over the past few weeks. These accidents have led to many dead and others with catastrophic, life-altering injuries. Fatal and catastrophic injury accidents undoubtedly affect so many people, not just the victims. But the involvement of drugs or alcohol takes the anger, fear and sadness to unspeakable levels.

As I’ve spoken to friends, neighbors, and clients, as well as my daily browsing through my Facebook feed, I learn of more and more GoFundMe accounts popping up for those killed or injured. GoFundMe accounts are a unique and worthwhile way to solicit donations through social media from anyone that feels as if they want to do their small part. It is doing a good deed and I would never discourage that.

But I wanted to point out, specifically to those who are managing these accounts or who are close enough to those managers to get their ears, that the Michigan No-Fault Statute provides many important benefits to both the families of the fatally injured, and to the seriously injured victims. I read these GoFundMe posts which state they are raising money for medical bills or funeral expenses.

It should be known that these are two such benefits for which they are entitled from the No-Fault Statute and the money raised should go to other needs not covered!

I am writing this because I know that quite often, in cases like these, family members don’t rush to call an attorney. Understandably, they often take their time to grieve with family and friends and perhaps trusted clergy and don’t seek out counsel to learn what benefits to which they are entitled for quite some time.

For example, let’s take the horrible incident last weekend where a drunk driver killed and injured several individuals who were spending their weekend on a fundraising bike ride across the State. The affected families may have no idea that their auto insurance that covers their vehicle in their garage or on their driveway 200 miles away back home is actually obligated to cover them for this accident and will provide no-fault benefits even though they were riding a bike and not in a car! For those injured, no-fault insurance should cover emergency transport by ambulance or a life flight; hospital medical bills, rehabilitation, and wage loss so the injured does not have to worry about the loss of income. For those who lost loved ones, they need to know that no-fault benefits include money for funeral and burial and most importantly, a benefit called “Survivor’s Loss Benefits.” No-fault shall pay three years of the deceased’s wage loss as well as whatever other financial means the deceased contributed to the household. It is important to understand; they are entitled to no-fault benefits even when they were on a bike and not in their car!

The other night I saw a post on Facebook that someone started a GoFundMe for the driver that caused the accident two weeks ago on I-94 in Taylor that killed two others besides himself and catastrophically injured two others. I understand there is a need for financial assistance for his family too, and they are grieving for the loss of their husband and father. But just as the others I discussed, his family would be entitled to No-fault Survivor Loss Benefits to help with funeral and burial expenses and pay three years of the income and finances he brought into the household, so long as he was not driving uninsured. The important point I’m making; No-Fault Benefits are available regardless of fault. So even the driver at fault can claim these benefits.

So please, contribute to the GoFundMe accounts if you wish. My point is not to deter people from contributing, as it is important to take care of our neighbors. But please, urge those coordinators to maximize the benefits they can from the insurance companies and use the money raised for children’s education and other household necessities that are not covered by the No-Fault Statute.

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