What You Don't Know About No-Fault Insurance Now Can Hurt You Later
Whether you are a pedestrian or bicyclist struck by a car, a passenger in someone else's car or driving yourself, your car insurance policy can be your savior. Minnesota law states that all licensed vehicles must carry insurance. Part of the required insurance coverage is called Personal Injury Protection, or no-fault coverage. This is coverage that pays medical bills, wage loss and replacement services for you if you are insured in any type of auto related accident.
Many people aren't aware that this coverage is available to assist them. Even though you are not driving your car, your own policy coverage will extend to you when you are injured. The coverage also extends to protect members of your household that may not even drive.
What is No-Fault Insurance?
No-fault refers to the 1974 statute regulating the insurance you must have to operate a motor vehicle in Minnesota. It allows those involved in an accident – regardless of who caused it – to quickly recover costs for medical bills, lost wages and other economic losses. Before no-fault, people waited months, even years, for payment of benefits. No fault insurance also is referred to as personal injury protection (PIP). Minnesota requires that a minimum PIP coverage of $20,000 for medical care and $20,000 for wage loss/replacement services be available to every person involved in an accident.
Sometimes insurance companies will dispute paying no-fault benefits. If this happens, you may need to pursue an arbitration against the insurance company (usually your own) to clarify the obligations of each party.
When can I pursue a claim against the at-fault driver?
Every insured driver is entitled to no-fault benefits in Minnesota when they are involved in an accident. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may also be eligible to pursue a liability personal injury claim against the insurance company of the person responsible or at fault for the accident. This happens when damages include one of the following:
- Permanent injury or disfigurement;
- More than $4,000 in medical expenses, services or products (not including diagnostics like x-rays or MRIs);
- Disability lasting for more than 60 days; and
If the at-fault person is uninsured, the lawsuit or claim may need to be filed against the uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy.
What does your auto policy cover?
In the event of an accident, a standard Minnesota policy will pay medical bills, some wage loss and other benefits as follows:
Liability Coverage - protects your assets if you are found at fault in an auto accident. Minnesota minimums: $30,000 per covered person, $60,000 per accident in liability coverage.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) - provides for immediate medical care and at least partial wage-loss reimbursement without waiting for the outcome of a lawsuit. Minnesota minimums: $20,000 for medical care, $20,000 wage loss per covered person.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist - provides compensation for your injuries when caused by another driver who has inadequate or no insurance. Minimums: $25,000 per covered person, $50,000 per accident.
No-fault will pay for ...
Medical expenses including:
Mileage To/From Treatment
Wage loss including:
- Eighty-five percent of an injured person's gross income up to a maximum of $500 per week
- Cost of a substitute employee to cover work of self-employed person
- Cost of covering household chores performed by an injured homemaker
*Note: a treating physician must verify that you can't work because of accident injuries.
7 steps to applying for no-fault benefits
- Report the accident to your insurance company immediately and get your assigned claim number.
- Ask for a No-Fault Benefits Application.
- For medical expenses: give all your accident-related health care providers your No-Fault insurance information.
- Ask your health care providers to send all bills directly to your insurance company.
- For wage loss benefits, your physician must verify how long it will be medically necessary for you to miss work. A disability slip or work release must be sent to your No-Fault claims adjuster.
- Submit request for reimbursements of mileage and prescriptions to your No- Fault claim adjuster. Keep a copy of everything, including receipts.
- Payments of No-Fault benefits generally must be made within 30 days from the date the insurance company receives proof of the loss or expense.
Reminder: A No-Fault claim is separate and apart from any liability claim you may have under Minnesota law against other drivers involved in your collision.
Contact Our Attorneys for Help
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car, truck, motorcycle, or drunk driver accident, you deserve expert legal representation. The lawyers of SiebenCarey are experienced attorneys. Contact our personal injury law firm today to speak with one of our knowledgeable lawyers about your case.