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Navigating No-Fault Insurance in Minnesota: How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Navigating No-Fault Insurance in Minnesota_ How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic and overwhelming experience, leaving victims with physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial burdens. Minnesota is one of a handful of states that follow a “no-fault” insurance system for car accidents. The no-fault system aims to pay prompt medical bills and wage loss to those injured due to the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. 

While this system has advantages, it can also present complexities and challenges for those navigating it. Learn more about the no-fault system in Minnesota to understand your legal rights and options. If you have been involved in an accident and have questions about your legal rights, consult a Minnesota personal injury attorney to help with your case. 

Understanding No-Fault Insurance in Minnesota

Minnesota’s no-fault insurance system is designed to streamline payment of certain benefits after a car accident. These benefits typically include $20,000 in medical expenses, mileage to and from your appointments, and $20,000 in wage loss and replacement services.  These benefit amounts may increase if you stack your no-fault coverage on multiple vehicles you own.   

Medical expenses are paid for any treatment you receive that is reasonable, necessary, and related to the car accident.  Wage loss benefits are paid at 85% of your lost wages and capped at $500 per week.  Wage loss benefits are typically available if you miss time from work to attend medical appointments or if you are restricted from work by your doctor.  

Replacement services benefits are for activities that you normally would have been able to do but cannot because of your accident-related injuries and your doctor has restricted you from doing.  If you hire someone to take care of those benefits, your no-fault insurance company will need to reimburse you a maximum of $200 per week.  However, replacement service benefits are not available until the 8th day following the accident.   

No-fault benefits are available regardless of who caused the accident. The no-fault system is meant to be an efficient approach intended to reduce litigation and expedite the payment of benefits, helping injured individuals get the care they need without prolonged delays.

The Benefits of No-Fault Insurance

One of the main benefits of no-fault insurance is the timely payment of medical bills and wage loss benefits. Accident victims do not have to wait for the resolution of a lengthy legal process to receive compensation for their immediate needs. This aspect of no-fault insurance can be especially helpful for individuals who require urgent medical attention or cannot work due to their injuries.

The typical process after an accident to obtain no-fault benefits is to notify your insurance company that you were injured and involved in an accident.  They will send you a no-fault benefits application, which must be completed and returned.  They will also provide you with a no-fault claim number.  This claim number is provided to your medical providers, who will send their bills directly to your no-fault insurance company for payment.

If your doctor restricts you from work, you will need to get a note from the doctor laying out what restrictions you have due to your accident-related injuries to get wage loss benefits.  The no-fault insurance company will also request an employment verification from your employer to verify your employment, how many hours a week you work, and your pay rate.  Once this information has been received, the no-fault insurance company will issue payment for 85% of your lost wages, capped at $500 per week.    

Even though no-fault insurance will provide prompt payment, there are still limitations to the coverage provided by no-fault insurance, which is where the expertise of a personal injury attorney becomes invaluable.

Challenges with No-Fault Insurance Claims

While the no-fault insurance system offers quick and efficient compensation benefits, it may not fully cover all the losses an accident victim incurs.  The medical coverage only provides payment of the first $20,000 in medical benefits.  This medical benefit amount can be used up almost immediately for severe injuries.  If this happens, then the next priority of payment is the injured person’s health insurance policy.  Many health insurance policies have large deductibles, leaving the injured person financially bound.  Additionally, some people do not carry health insurance, leaving unpaid bills above and beyond the $20,000 medical limit.

The wage loss maximum payment of $500 per week can also leave large amounts of wage loss unpaid, leaving people in a very difficult financial situation.

Moreover, insurance companies are often profit-oriented businesses that aim to minimize payouts. They might employ tactics, such as “independent medical examinations,” to downplay a victim’s injuries or even deny their claim outright, which can be distressing and disheartening for the injured party.  If your no-fault benefits have been denied, you are left with trying to obtain your benefits through a lawsuit, or the no-fault arbitration process, which can be a lengthy process to go through.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Assist

An experienced personal injury lawyer can walk you through the no-fault process and advise you of your rights under the no-fault system. When you hire an experienced attorney, you can expect the following:

Setting Up Your No-Fault Claim

A personal injury attorney will review the facts of your case and determine where you should obtain no-fault insurance coverage.  Once the appropriate insurer has been identified, your lawyer will ensure that your no-fault claim is set up properly and all claims are submitted.

Obtaining Proper Documentation

Proper documentation must be submitted to the no-fault insurance company to obtain no-fault benefits.  This could include your application for benefits, correct submission of medical bills, doctor’s notes and employment verification, and documentation regarding replacement services.  A personal injury attorney will promptly ensure that the appropriate documentation is received and submitted to the no-fault insurance company.

Knowing What to Do If Benefits Are Denied

If the insurance company refuses to cooperate or disputes the claim unreasonably, a personal injury attorney can take the appropriate action to force the insurance company to pay for your benefits.  This could mean starting and going through the no-fault arbitration process or starting a lawsuit. Legal representation significantly improves the injured person’s chances of being treated fairly by the insurance company.

Pursuing Additional Compensation

If someone else is at fault for causing your accident, you may have another claim called a personal injury or bodily injury claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.  However, just because someone else is at fault for causing the accident doesn’t mean you automatically have the right to bring this second potential claim.  To get outside of the no-fault system to bring a personal injury claim, you must meet one of five so-called “thresholds.”  These thresholds include if there has been a death due to the accident; if you have 60 days disability; if you have a scar or disfigurement; if you have more than $4,000 in medical expenses; or if you have a permanent injury.  Pursuing a personal injury claim may involve identifying liable third parties, negotiating with their insurance company, and starting a lawsuit if you cannot settle the claim.

Seek Help to Receive the Maximum Compensation for Your Personal Injury Claim

Navigating the no-fault insurance system in Minnesota can be complex, especially when dealing with difficult insurance companies. A personal injury attorney can be an indispensable asset for accident victims, ensuring they receive proper compensation for their injuries and losses. By enlisting the help of a dedicated legal professional, individuals can focus on their recovery while leaving the intricacies of the claims process in capable hands.

Call the Minnesota car accident lawyers at Nelson Personal Injury today for a free consultation if you have been involved in a car accident.

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