SMDA, PC is proud to announce that one of our founding partners, Phillip Serafini, has once again been selected as a Super Lawyer for Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Attorneys for 2022.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Their patented attorney selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers list each year. This is the third time that Mr. Serafini has received this award in addition to being named as one of Metro Detroits top attorneys by Crains Detroit Business.
We feel that these awards reflect the continuing commitment by Phil Serafini as well as the entire staff at SMDA to providing the same quality compassionate representation we have provided to all of our clients over the past 16 years since we opened our doors in 2006. Please feel free to call us for a free consultation if you have questions or concerns about matters within our practice areas:

SMDA is proud to report that survivors of catastrophic crashes and their loved ones, including a number of my clients at Serafini, Michialowski, Derkacz & Associates, PC, won a major victory in the Michigan Court of Appeals today. The Court issued its long awaited decision in Andary v USAA and held that benefit reductions passed as part of 2019 auto insurance reforms could not be applied retroactively. The decision Represents a Major Victory for Survivors of Catastrophic Crashes and their Families, has binding effect on retroactive application of benefit reductions.
The Court ruled 2-1 in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of Andary et al. v USAA Casualty Insurance Company et al. The lawsuit was filed in 2019 by guardians of two catastrophically injured auto accident victims — along with the nationally renowned brain injury rehabilitation clinic Eisenhower Center — and names Citizens Insurance Company of America and USAA Casualty Insurance Company as the defendants. The victims, on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed, are Ellen Andary, of East Lansing, and Philip Krueger, of Ann Arbor.
The decision will enable thousands of severely injured accident victims to continue receiving medical expense and home care reimbursement at the benefit levels that were legally enforceable under insurance policies that those victims bought and paid for for years before the new law went into effect. The decision will prevent insurance companies from reaping windfall profits by retaining premiums they collected to pay benefits they would no longer be required to provide if the Court had allowed the Insurance Companies to retroactively apply the new law to these claims some of which stem from catastrophic collections that occurred more than thirty years ago.

We at Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C. are sad to learn of the loss of a Detroit original, Bob Allison.  Bob, passed away, recently, at the age of eighty-seven (87), following a fall at home.  Our condolences go out to his wife Maggie and their three (3) sons.

His long and storied career as a journalist, broadcaster and TV personality began on the radio in 1962 with “Ask Your Neighbor“.  The show continued to air, in one way or another, most recently on WNZK 690 AM, for well over fifty (50) years.  Bob, also enjoyed some local fame as the host of “Bowling for Dollars”which aired locally on “channel 4” before it became WDIV.   He worked throughout the metro-Detroit area and touched many listeners and viewers with his friendly voice and honest answers.

Our firm is proud to have been a regular contributor on the Ask Your Neighbor show during the legal hour, in the past, as a guest contributing host.  As a guest host, we got to know Bob and his son Rob extremely well and truly feel like we lost a great neighbor.

In compliance with the governor’s order regarding shelter in place and stay safe at home policies, the firm has implemented the following policies consistent with Executive Order 2020-21.

Pursuant to Section 4 paragraph (b) the firm has identified its essential employees necessary to conduct minimal business transactions, like banking, payroll processing, employee benefits and ensuring that those of us that are working from home have the ability to work remotely.   Each designated employee has a “transit letter” within his or her possession.

For compliance with the executive order the following information is available:

The SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Act) passed into law effective January 1, 2020.   Although it is uncertain how the act was named, it is certain that this act will significantly impact estate, tax and income planning for baby boomers and their children.   This act will force Americans with IRAs and other “qualified assets” to recognize more income, upon inheritance.

For years, the IRS allowed beneficiaries of an individual retirement account (IRA) to defer their receipt of income over their individual lifetimes through the use of the stretch distribution provision.   This is no longer possible as the act changes the way in which a beneficiary can elect to receive his or her own share of a decedent’s account: either as a lump sum distribution or as a ten (10) year plan of distribution.   The inherited “stretch” IRA is no longer an option after January 1, 2020.  As a result, the government will begin to receive more taxes from inherited income beginning 2020 moving forward.

The act does provide some relief as it puts off the age for required minimum distributions (RMDs) until the age of 72, if you have yet to begin receiving your RMDs prior to 2020.   It also repeals the maximum age of which a person can contribute to his or her IRA; allows for expansion of 529 plans; and, provides credits to small businesses that setup automatic enrollment into their retirement plans.

A year into the “new VA regulations” it is clear that planning for VA benefits is still a viable longterm care planning strategy.   On October 18, 2018 as part of a comprehensive plan to help reorganize the Department of Veterans Affairs and benefit programs themselves, the VA finally adopted new regulations affecting the non-service related improved compensation benefit program or as we refer to it, A&A (aid and attendance).

Among the changes:

  • A three (3) lookback period.

If your parents are at the age when illnesses and medical conditions are a concern, you will have worries about the costs of long-term care. One of the biggest problems confronting senior citizens today is the extraordinary cost of this care. Such costs can exceed one’s entire lifetime savings. When proceeds come to an end, the only option may be to apply for Medicaid.

However, while Medicaid does pay the costs of long-term care, eligibility is complex. One of the eligibility requirements is that the amount of assets your parents can own individually and jointly is extremely limited.

“Look-back” period

The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation is an all volunteer, grass roots organization whose goal is to bring a smile to the face of a child that is suffering. The mission of The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation is to enrich the lives of Michigan children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions by buying gifts and bringing joy and hope to their lives. Along with their gift, each child receives a personalized trophy to acknowledge their courageous fight.

This is a wonderful organization and our firm is proud and privileged to be a sponsor and a part of helping achieve its mission.

Learn more about this great organization by visiting their website at

You may be over at a friend’s house when, out of nowhere, an otherwise friendly dog bites you. Over 4.5 million Americans receive dog bites each year, shares the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. While a decent amount are superficial wounds that do not require any medical attention, plenty of people need to go to the emergency room to address the wound. 

You are put between a rock and a hard place when a friend’s dog bites you. You want compensation for your injury, but you also do not want to damage the friendship. During this time, the most important thing is your health, and you should take the following steps after suffering a dog bite. 

Get medical attention

Some car accident victims suffer from evident pain immediately after a car accident, such as a broken bone or back injury. Others, however, may not experience the pain right away. Some people may think that their pain is not severe and will go away on its own.

There is no question that it would be in your best interest to see a doctor after a motor vehicle accident. You may not immediately experience pain, but that does not mean that you have not suffered an injury, or that you will face one down the road. Clients have frequently stated that immediately after an accident they were not in pain and that the pain came days, or even weeks, later.

Being a victim of a car accident can be a very scary and confusing time. Many people are unsure of the steps they need to take to ensure they receive benefits they are entitled to. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a car accident, call SMDA Law today to schedule your free consultation. It is important to know and understand your rights.

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