What is No-Fault?
Every Minnesotan who owns and uses a motor vehicle (motorcycles and certain other vehicles excluded) is required by law to carry basic minimum insurance on that vehicle. Part of that required coverage includes No-Fault coverage (also referred to as “personal injury protection,” or “PIP” coverage). The Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Law is designed to provide all Minnesota motorists with basic No-Fault benefits if their injury “arose out of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle.” Arising “out of the maintenance or use” means that you may be entitled to coverage even if you were not in a “typical” motor vehicle accident. Examples of other types of injuries that may be covered include injuries that occur while getting in or out of the vehicle (such as slipping and falling); injuries occurring while fueling or maintaining the vehicle; certain injuries incurred while loading or unloading a vehicle, etc. If your injury was in any way connected with your motor vehicle, contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation.
What You Should Do If You Are Injured:
If your injury arose “out of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle,” you should take these steps to comply with the law and to safeguard your interests and rights:
Report the accident to the police, highway patrol or sheriff’s office immediately.
Report the accident as soon as possible to your insurance company. The law provides that insurers are entitled to prompt notice of accidents. If it takes longer than six (6) months to report your injuries, your insurance company may claim that they have been prejudiced by the delay and attempt to deny benefits.
Because of the inherent complexity of the No-Fault law, it is recommended that you consult an experienced lawyer to help assess your claim and determine the benefits to which you are entitled.
Take photographs of any property damage and injuries.
Do not admit fault, and do not give any written or recorded statement to any insurance company until you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.
Under Minnesota law, every policy on a motor vehicle is required to carry the following minimum No-Fault insurance coverage:
$20,000 for all medical expenses and mileage to and from medical treatment;
$20,000 for income loss, or self-employed, to hire replacement help. This benefit is limited to 85% of the loss with a maximum of $500/week;
$10,000 for hiring replacement services help around the home, with a maximum of $200/week. This benefit does not begin until seven (7) days after the accident; and
In the event of a death, survivor’s benefits coverage up to $20,000, as well as funeral benefits up to $5,000.
These are mandatory minimum coverages, and you are entitled to collect even if you were “at-fault” for causing the accident.
Who Pays Your No-Fault Benefits?
Generally you collect from your own automobile insurance company if you are in a private passenger automobile. This is true even if you are not in your own vehicle at the time of the accident. If you are in a commercial vehicle or truck, in most cases, you collect from the commercial vehicle owner’s policy. Again, when in doubt, consult an experienced personal injury attorney.
How to collect your No-Fault Benefits:
In addition to reporting the accident, you may be required to complete a written application for no-fault benefits. If your insurance company requests, you may be required to provide them with authorizations to obtain documents and records relevant to your medical treatment and expenses, income loss and replacement services claim. If your insurance company requests, you may find it necessary to authorize your employer to verify your loss of earnings. If you have any doubt about the appropriateness of the authorizations, you should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.
You may be required to undergo a physical examination by a doctor chosen by your insurance company at their expense.
The physical examination is required in your city, or as near as practical to your home. If the company demands your attendance for such an examination at a place other than where you live, you may wish to consult an attorney about your rights. The law also requires that you not have a lapse in treatment and disability of more than one (1) year to continue receiving benefits.
An experienced personal injury attorney is trained to evaluate all aspects of your claim. An injury victim’s rights are often prejudiced by delays in seeking representation while assuming the no-fault law will take care of everything. As soon after the accident as possible, witnesses should be interviewed and other appropriate evidence gathered. Photos of the vehicles involved and where the accident happened could be essential later, and if they are not taken in a timely manner such photos might not be usable. Experienced personal injury attorneys handle cases on a “contingency fee” basis, which means that they do not get paid unless they recover money for you. Thus, delay in seeking help or advice from an attorney cannot be justified on the basis of “I cannot afford a lawyer.”
If you have been injured, and a motor vehicle was involved, speak with an one of our experienced personal injury attorneys as soon as possible to make sure you receive fair and adequate compensation under no-fault and Minnesota personal injury law.