The question whether a family member is entitled to compensation for providing care and services to an injured relative was answered in Douglas v Allstate Insurance Co., 492 Mich. 241 (2012). In Douglas, the Michigan Supreme Court considered whether services provided by the plaintiff’s wife constituted services “for an injured person’s care” for purposes of recovery of personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits under the no-fault act. The definition of “care” encompassed only those services related to the plaintiff’s injuries. “Replacement services” provided by the plaintiff’s wife, such as household chores, were not for the care of the plaintiff’s injury. Therefore, plaintiff could not recover benefits for those services.
The Court noted that the plaintiff could recover for attendant care services performed by his wife if he could show that the services were actually rendered, the actual cost expended, and that his wife expected compensation. This evidentiary requirement is most easily satisfied by the submission of itemized statements listing the nature of services provided, which the caregiver documented at the time of providing the services. Where the circuit court issued a judgment in favor of the plaintiff without finding that the expenses were actually incurred and that the caregiver expected compensation, the Court vacated the award and remanded the case to the circuit court for further findings of fact.
A court must also determine whether the caregiver’s charge is reasonable. The circuit court erred when it based its determination of a reasonable rate by comparison to the rates charged by commercial agencies. Where the services were provided by the plaintiff’s wife, an individual, the court should have based its hourly rate determination on what an agency pays its employees, rather than on what the agency charges its patients for those services.