When one party sues another, sometimes there may be other parties that also want to be part of the lawsuit. There are specific laws that govern who may do so and when a party can join into a lawsuit. The Eastern District of Michigan District Court recently heard a case that illustrates this concept and gives an example of when it may apply.
No-Fault Personal Injury Protection
Michigan is a “no-fault” state. That means insurance policies will pay insured individuals after a car accident no matter who was at fault. In this case, a driver had personal injury protection benefits through a commercial insurer. Personal injury protection is meant to pay for injuries suffered by the driver after a car accident. The plaintiff was later in a car accident where he was injured. As part of treating his injuries, he saw physicians at a Michigan medical provider. Instead of paying the healthcare provider directly, the plaintiff assigned his right to collect on the bills to the healthcare provider. Now, the injured driver is suing his insurance company to collect the benefits he is owed. Thus, the healthcare provider filed a motion to join the lawsuit against the insurer to collect on the money they are owed for the healthcare services.
The trial court dismissed the healthcare provider’s action under recently decided Michigan case law that held that healthcare providers do not have their own cause of action against insurance companies for personal injury protection payments. Further, the court held that under the insurance policy itself, the consent of the defendant is necessary in order for the collection rights to be assigned.
Federal Law on Intervention
When a new party wants to be added as a plaintiff in a lawsuit, that is called “intervention.” Federal law allows the automatic ability to intervene when there is an unconditional right given by federal statute, or when the claims are so tied that it would seriously damage the movant to not be included.
The circuit courts that cover Michigan have articulated four elements that must be met in order to be allowed to intervene as a right. These are that the application to intervene is timely, the party moving to intervene has a substantial legal interest in the case, if the intervention is not granted then the movant’s ability to protect its interests is impaired, and that the party’s interests are not already adequately represented by the existing parties. If all four criteria are not met then the application to intervene will be denied.
Here, the court held that the application to join was not timely. As noted above, the state court has already spoken as to the healthcare provider’s right to sue the insurance company itself. The court here agreed with the defendant that the healthcare provider only wanted to be added now since it lost in state court. Thus, the matter has already been settled as to the healthcare provider’s right in the action and the application to intervene is dismissed.
Contact an Experienced Michigan Car Accident Attorney Today!
If you are injured in a car accident, you should contact a knowledgeable Michigan car accident attorney as soon as possible. The experienced car accident attorneys at Neumann Law Group can help you get the recovery you deserve. Neumann Law Group works with clients in Western Michigan, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Southfield, Lansing, and Traverse City. Call 800-525-6386 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free consultation today.
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