When you’ve been in a car accident, your immediate concerns typically center around your health, the safety of your loved ones, and any damage sustained to your vehicle. After the dust has settled, the questions about how the insurance process works generally arise. In Minnesota, drivers operate under a “no-fault” insurance system, which can make filing a claim, and the ultimate result, different than you might expect. Keep reading to learn what this policy means for your claim, and what insurance protection you need in Minnesota.
What Is A “No-Fault” System?
Most people believe that after a car accident, the at fault party and their insurance company is immediately responsible for the resulting damages, such as medical bills and wage loss. However, Minnesota is one of just a handful of states that operates under a “no-fault” system. Under Minnesota No-Fault law, if you are injured as a result of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle, you are entitled to no-fault benefits from your own insurance company. These benefits are payable regardless of who is at fault for causing the crash. Only in some circumstances will you also have a personal injury or bodily injury claim later on against the at fault driver and their insurance company.
What Protection Do I Need?
Every owner of a motor vehicle in Minnesota is required to purchase four specific types of insurance coverage. These are:
- Liability coverage;
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP), also known as no-fault coverage;
- Underinsured motorist coverage; and
- Uninsured motorist coverage.
A detailed description of Minnesota auto insurance coverage requirements from the Department of Commerce can be found here.
The no-fault or PIP portion of your insurance covers any lost wages (up to $20,000 total, paid out at 85% of lost wages, capped at $500/week), replacement services (up to $200 per week) and medical expenses (up to a maximum of $20,000) due to injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Because of the no-fault system, you will receive a payment regardless of whether the accident was your fault or not.
Bringing A Personal Injury Claim
Because all motorists in Minnesota are required to carry no-fault insurance to cover medical expenses, replacement services, and income loss, the Minnesota legislature has limited when and how injured accident victims can bring a personal injury claim against other drivers who were negligent in causing your injuries. In order to bring a personal injury claim, the injured victim must meet at least one of the following so called “threshold requirements” set forth in Minnesota Statute §65B.51:
- medical treatment expenses of $4,000 or more; or
- a permanent injury; or
- a disability of 60 days or more; or
- a permanent disfigurement (scar); or
- a death as a result of their injuries
If you have met one of the above thresholds, you can bring a personal injury claim against any negligent (at-fault) driver and their insurance company. In a personal injury claim, you may be entitled to recover the following damages:
- past medical bills and wage loss not covered by your no-fault claim;
- future medical expenses and income loss or loss of earning capacity; and
- past and future pain, suffering, and emotional distress
If the liability portion of the at-fault driver’s policy is not enough to compensate you for your damages, the underinsured motorist coverage portion of your policy will cover the remaining uncompensated damages.
If the at-fault driver is uninsured, the uninsured motorist portion of your policy comes in to play.
Knowing the differences between your different insurance coverages can be tricky, but it is crucial to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation. Different types of claims must be pursued at different times and deadlines for filing claims may apply. That is why it is important you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney so that your rights are protected.
Thankfully, Nelson Personal Injury is experienced with navigating these hurdles and can simplify your claims process.
Consult the Personal Injury Law Experts at Nelson Personal Injury
The personal injury lawyers at Nelson Personal Injury have been working with personal injury clients in the St. Cloud and Central Minnesota area for over 30 years. We know that personal injury claims can be difficult, and the insurance system can be confusing and time-consuming. That’s why we work hard to make sure you feel heard, and most importantly, that you get the compensation you deserve. Find out more about our qualified personal injury lawyers, and how we can help you with your claim, on our website: nelsonpersonalinjury.com.