If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, you have rights under the Minnesota No Fault Insurance Law to collect benefits from your own insurance company under the No Fault coverage in your insurance policy. These benefits are called No Fault or PIP (Personal Injury Protection) benefits.
The purpose of this section is to provide you with information about your rights to collect No Fault benefits when you have been injured.
- Do I have No-Fault insurance coverage?
Yes. No Fault coverage is mandatory under Minnesota law. Therefore, if you have auto insurance, you have No Fault coverage and are entitled to receive No Fault benefits.
- Which insurance company pays No Fault benefits?
Generally, you collect No Fault benefits from your own insurance company. If you were injured in a commercial vehicle, you usually collect from the commercial vehicles’ insurance company.
Even if you did not have insurance coverage of your own, you may under some circumstances be entitled to collect under an insurance policy assigned to you by the State of Minnesota. Again, an attorney can help you to determine your rights to an assigned policy.
- What kind of No Fault benefits can I collect?
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, you are entitled, under Minnesota law, to receive the following benefits:
- Medical expenses
. These benefits may include the expenses of doctors, hospitals, chiropractors, special nurses, physical therapy and prescriptions. It may also include medical travel expenses and, where prescribed by a doctor or chiropractor, may also include braces, cervical collars, crutches, wheelchairs, special pillows and mattresses and the cost of a health/exercise club.
- Replacement services
. These benefits may include, where recommended by a doctor, the costs of cleaning help, snow removal, and the costs of other hired services which would have been performed by you if you were not injured.
- Wage/income losses
. These benefits also may include lost wages. You are entitled to collect 85% of your actual wage or salary up to a maximum of $250/week.
- Is it necessary that I was occupying a motor vehicle when I was injured in order to collect No Fault Benefits?
No. Under the law, you can collect No Fault benefits under any of the following circumstances:
- If you were injured while riding in or occupying a motor vehicle,
- If you were injured while entering or alighting from a motor vehicle,
- If you were injured while engaged in the repair or maintenance of a motor vehicle (under certain circumstances),
- If you were injured as the result of being struck by, or nearly struck by, a motor vehicle.
If any question arises as to whether you are entitled to collect No Fault benefits, an attorney can help you to determine your rights.
- How much can I collect?
Under Minnesota law, the minimum coverage is $20,000 for medical expenses and another $20,000 for replacement services and income/wage losses. It is possible that your insurance policy provides for higher limits. You should check with your insurance agent and your lawyer to se if you have coverage above the minimum.
You can collect No Fault benefits even if you have been totally at-fault in causing the collision in which you were injured!
6. How long can I continue to collect No Fault Benefits?
You are entitled to receive No Fault benefits for as long as you are medically required to incur these expenses or losses. Your rights to benefits may continue for the rest of your life or until the full amount of your coverage limits have been exhausted.
If there is a lapse in your disability, the coverage may be lost. For that reason, it is important that you continue to see your health care providers on a regular basis and according to their recommendations. You should see a doctor for your injuries at least once a year. If you skip treatments for more than a year, the insurance company may attempt to deny No Fault benefits for the rest of your life!
Of course your claim must be supported by your health care providers in order for you to collect.
- What should I do to get the insurance company to start paying No-Fault?
You should immediately contact your own insurance company and report the accident. You should ask your agent for No Fault Claim forms. Your attorney can help you to fill out those forms and to get payments started sooner.
- What if the insurance company doesn’t pay, or stops paying?
If you have a valid claim and the insurance company doesn’t pay, or stops paying, you have the right to take your claim to arbitration to force the insurance company to pay if the claim is under $10,000. If the claim is over $10,000 you must file suit in court to collect the benefits to which you are entitled. An attorney can help you to bring an arbitration claim.
- Do I need an attorney to collect No Fault benefits?
Not necessarily. You can collect No Fault benefits without the help of an attorney. However, the services of an attorney can help you to collect and to be satisfied that the benefits paid are correct. If you have an injury that is such that you may have a claim against the at-fault driver, the attorney handling that claim can assist you with your No Fault claim. An attorney can help you to determine whether your claim is one that permits you to bring a claim against the at-fault driver. In the event of an accident you should immediately contact your own insurance company and report the accident. You should ask your agent for No Fault claim forms. Your attorney can help you to fill out those forms and to get payments started sooner.
- Should you sign a release to collect No Fault benefits?
It is not necessary for you to sign a release in order to get No Fault benefits. In fact, you absolutely should not sign a release without consulting an attorney.
- If collect No Fault benefits, can I still make a claim against the other driver?
You can collect these valuable No Fault benefits from your own insurance company and still bring a claim against the at-fault driver and his insurance company for damages that you have sustained over and above those which you collect under your No Fault coverage. The damages include medical expenses and wage/salary losses not paid by No Fault. It also includes damages for your pain and suffering, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life. The spouse of the injured person may also collect damages for the loss of the services of the injured person.