WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — A ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court this week reaffirmed extensive coverage for 18,000 people who were seriously injured in car crashes before Michigan reformed its automotive insurance law.

It used to be that people catastrophically injured in a crash had all of their costs covered for life. But the 2019 law changed that, capping reimbursements. The state Supreme Court ruled that people injured before the crash are still entitled to the same benefits. People injured in crashes after the change are subject to the new cap.

The Wieland family in Walker is grateful for the ruling, which was announced Monday.

“We knew the contract got broken,” Sheldon Wieland said.

Shawn Wieland suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car crash four days before Christmas in 1997. His parents Sheldon and Peg Wieland have been taking care of him. For years, they received full insurance coverage. But after the law changed, they lost that. They had to pull from their savings and retirement to try to cover thousands of dollars in medical bills.

“We were old enough to get Social Security because I had lost my job … of 16 years in health care, and also I lost my insurance, which is awesome insurance and I was part of a group plan. Well, I lost all that,” Sheldon Wieland said.

The family is embroiled in a lawsuit with the insurance company. They are unsure how much reimbursement they will receive and when any payments will be made. They hope the ruling helps move their case forward.

“We’d been hoping and praying and believing,” Sheldon Wieland said.

Grand Rapids-based attorney Tom Sinas, who is not involved in the Wieland’s case, is the board chair of the Brian Injury Association of Michigan.

“This is a really important ruling for those individuals who were seriously injured in automobile accidents before the law was changed and who were covered under existing auto insurance policies,” Sinas said. “The families here have had their lives really upended horribly over the last couple of years as their medical care has gone largely unreimbursed or very substantially lower reimbursed.”

Sinas said some lost their access to medical care that helps preserve quality of life.

“(The ruling) does not answer the other question, though, about what will happen to all of the other auto accident victims who were injured after the law changed or who will be injured in the future,” Sinas said.

For families like the Wielands, the payments cannot come soon enough.

“I hate to say that maybe we deserve more money. It’s not about necessarily the money but it will help a lot so I can take care of Shawn,” Sheldon Wieland said.