1. What does ‘no-fault’ automobile insurance mean?
No-fault automobile insurance means that some out-of-pocket losses after a car accident are paid, regardless of who caused the automobile accident. If you are involved in a car accident and are injured, you are entitled to benefits. These losses can include medical and chiropractic bills to treat your injuries, lost wages due to your injuries, and other types of losses.
People in a car accident with serious injuries may also recover damages from a ‘negligent’ driver. These losses can include pain, suffering, and disability. ‘Negligence’ is defined as failing to use reasonable care when operating their vehicle.
2. Am I required to have no-fault insurance in Minnesota?
Yes. All Minnesota motor vehicle owners are required to have automobile insurance including mandatory coverage for bodily injury, personal injury protection, and to cover under-insured and uninsured motorists. It is illegal to drive without automobile insurance, so it is important to have proof of insurance coverage with you when driving your vehicle.
3. What should I do if I am injured in a car accident?
Report the accident to the police immediately. Any involved drivers must exchange identification and vehicle registration information.
Get immediate medical care for your injuries and/or for the injuries any passengers may have sustained.
If you suspect that an injury or property damage will be estimated at $1,000.00 or more, you must fill out an accident report. If law enforcement responds to the accident, they may fill out an accident report for you. You can obtain the report from the responding officers, so be sure to obtain their contact information before leaving the accident site.
Report the accident and your injuries to your insurance company immediately. If you choose to call your insurance company to report the accident, it is important that you follow up your phone call with the details of the accident in writing. Early notification will speedup payments for medical expenses, wage loss, and other benefits you are entitled to. If it takes longer than six months to report injuries, your insurance company may try to deny benefits.
TALK TO AN ATTORNEY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Do not give a written or tape-recorded statement to any insurance company without speaking with an attorney first.
4. Which insurance company pays for the benefits I am entitled to under the No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act?
Generally, you collect no-fault benefits from your own company. If the vehicle you are in is a commercial vehicle, you will likely collect no-fault insurance benefits from the commercial vehicle’s insurance. Even if you do not have insurance coverage of your own, you may apple to have coverage assigned to you. This can get complicated, so it is best to consult an attorney if you have any questions.
5. Who pays for the damage to my car?
If the other driver caused the accident, his or her insurance company must pay for your property damage promptly, without any deductible, even if you do not carry collision coverage.
If you were partially at fault, the other insurance company must pay a fair percentage equaling their driver’s fault.
If you have collision coverage, your company may pay the entire bill minus your deductible, and then recover their expense from the other driver or his insurer for repayment. If they do, they must pay you back a fair percentage of your deductible.
If you do not have collision coverage, and there is a disagreement about who caused the accident, you may go to court to force the other driver or his insurer to pay.
6. How long do I wait for medical and other expenses to be paid?
Generally, your insurance company has 30 days to pay expenses related to your car accident. Failing to do so may result in a 15% per year interest penalty on any overdue payments.
7. What if I feel like I am not being treated fairly by my insurance company?
You should contact an attorney.
8. When should I contact an attorney?
You should contact an attorney immediately. Because time is of the essence, an attorney may want to interview witnesses, take photos, and gather other important evidence immediately after the accident. The insurance companies will have professional investigators and attorneys working to protect them- you need to have a trained professional protecting you!
9. How do I pay for an attorney?
Most attorneys who handle automobile accident cases only charge a fee once they make a recovery. This is called a “contingency fee”.
Generally, you pay a prearranged percentage of the recovery, plus expenses. Some attorneys request prepayment for expenses, others do not. The attorney is required to make the agreement in writing and stick to it.
Watson Chiropractic can help with attorney referrals.
The Minnesota Association for Justice provides this information as a public service to the victims of auto accidents. It is intended only as a brief outline of the Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act. This is not legal advice. Speak to an attorney if you or a relative has been hurt in an accident.