Auto accident Questions:
- What should I do if I am injured in a car accident?
- What insurance benefits are available following an auto accident?
- Am I required to have no fault insurance in Minnesota?
- Do I need no fault insurance coverage for my motorcycle?
- What are the minimum auto insurance coverage types I am required to have?
- Which insurance company pays for the benefits I am entitled to under the No Fault Automobile Insurance Act?
- How do I collect the No Fault insurance benefits to which I am entitled?
- When would I make a personal injury claim against the other drivers’ insurance company?
- Who pays for the damage to my car?
- Do I have to give any insurer a statement?
- Am I required to sign a release to obtain no fault benefits?
- How long do I wait for my no fault insurer to pay medical and other expenses?
- What if I feel like I am not being treated fairly by my insurance company?
- When should I contact an attorney following a car accident?
What should I do if I am injured in a car accident?
- Call the police. Report the accident to law enforcement immediately.
- Exchange information. Drivers must exchange identification and vehicle registration information.
- Medical Care. Get immediate medical care for your injuries any injuries.
- Collision Report. If you suspect an injury or property damage will be estimated at $1,000 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. If you have chosen to not call law enforcement, but suspect that your injuries or property damage is $1,000 or greater, you may obtain an accident form online from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety by going to: www.dps.state.mn.us/DVS/PDFForms/Forms/CitReport.pdf. Alternatively, you can request a form by calling DPS at Telephone: (651) 296-6911; Once you complete the form return it to:
Department of Public Safety
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 181
St. Paul, MN 55101-5181
- Notify Insurance Company. 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 speed up 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. If you’ve suffered an injury, it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer to determine whether you have a case worth pursuing.
- Recorded Statements. Do not give a written or tape recorded statement to any insurance company with talking to an attorney first.
What insurance benefits are available following an auto accident?
“No-fault”/PIP automobile insurance
In Minnesota No-fault automobile insurance means that some (not all) 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. These losses are typically covered by your own auto insurer.
Where a person is seriously injured as a result of the negligence of another driver, the injured person may pursue a claim for money damages to be paid by the other driver’s insurance company. ‘Negligence’ is defined as failing to use reasonable care when operating their vehicle. The recoverable losses can include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost income, past and future pain, suffering and disability.
UM/UIM insurance is something you automatically purchase when you buy auto insurance in Minnesota. When you purchase UM/UIM insurance, the insurer is agreeing to cover you in the event of an accident in which the at-fault driver is either uninsured, or under-insured.
For example, if a jury determines a person’s injury is worth $1,500,000.00, but the at-fault driver only carried $500,000.00 of liability coverage, the injured person could make a claim against his own UIM policy for damages in excess of the $500,000.00 of available liability coverage. The extent to which an injured person may collect against a UIM policy will depend on the amount of UIM coverage purchased.
Some drivers carry what’s called umbrella insurance. This provides the at-fault driver with additional protection above and beyond their liability policy.
For example, if a jury determines a person’s injury is worth $1,500,000.00, but the at-fault driver only carried $500,000.00 of liability coverage, the injured person could collect the $1,000,000.00 shortfall from the at-fault driver’s umbrella policy.
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 (this will be covered in more detail later on).
It is illegal to drive without automobile insurance, so it is important to have proof of insurance coverage with you when driving your vehicle. Driving without insurance is a misdemeanor criminal offense.
Do I need no fault insurance coverage for my motorcycle?
No. Motorcycle owners are not required to carry no fault insurance. Motorcycle owners must obtain liability insurance coverage only. If you are interested in additional insurance coverage for your motorcycle you should contact your insurance provider.
What are the minimum auto insurance coverage types I am required to have?
Minnesota requires drivers to carry minimum levels of insurance. When obtaining insurance for your vehicle you are required, at a minimum, the following insurance coverage:
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage (BI):
This insurance coverage covers you if you cause an accident or injure someone. At a minimum you are required to carry $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident.
Property Damage Liability (PD):
This insurance coverage pays for damages to another car or other property if you cause the accident. At a minimum you are required to carry $10,000 per accident.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM):
This insurance coverage is for you and your family if you are injured in an auto accident caused by someone who is either uninsured or who does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries. You are required to carry a minimum coverage limit of $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident.
No Fault/Personal Injury Protection (PIP):
This insurance coverage is sometimes referred to as ‘no fault’ coverage. It covers a variety of losses that you may face when injured in an automobile accident regardless of who caused the accident. At a minimum Minnesota motor vehicle owners are required to obtain PIP coverage for –
Medical Expense Benefits:
This will cover expenses related to medical care you receive because of injuries in an automobile accident. Medical services include emergency room, doctor and dental care, as well as chiropractic and physical therapy. You can choose your own doctors and the insurer must pay for your transportation cost or mileage to and from your medical treatment visits. At a minimum you must carry $20,000 in coverage.
Work/Wage Loss & Replacement Services:
A minimum of $20,000 per person is required which covers:
You are entitled to 85% of your lost gross income due to injury up to $250.00 per week.
You may claim up to $200 per week (starting one week after the accident) to pay for household help such as house cleaning, snow shoveling and yard work.
In the event of death, your family may be reimbursed up to $2,000 for funeral costs.
All of the insurance coverage amounts listed here are minimum coverage limits for you and your family. If you own more than one vehicle and would like additional coverage, you can request additional insurance coverage by combining auto policies through “stacking”.
In addition to the minimum insurance coverage we have already outlined, there are additional optional insurance coverages you may want to consider:
This insurance coverage pays for damage to your car from an accident no matter who is at fault.
This insurance coverage pays for damage to your automobile cause by fire, theft, vandalism and other types of damage to your automobile.
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 benefits from the commercial vehicle’s insurance. Even if you do not have insurance coverage of your own, you may apply to have coverage assigned to you. This can get complicated, so it is best to consult an attorney if you have any questions.
How do I collect the No Fault insurance benefits to which I am entitled?
- Report the accident to your insurer immediately. You may be asked to fill out an “application for benefits” or other form. It is important to read all of these forms carefully before you sign and return any of them. Although the law may require you to sign these forms, you should always check with an attorney before completing any forms related to your accident.
- When reporting your injuries and/or losses from the accident, do so in writing and save your correspondence. Document the dates each correspondence was provided and whether it was provided via US mail or email. If you send documentation of medical bills, proof of lost wages, receipts or check stubs for prescriptions and replacement services only send copies and retain the original documents.
- Your insurer may ask that you be examined by a doctor of their choice. If this request has been made, consult an attorney immediately. You have specific rights regarding this examination. It is important to have legal advice before attending this examination. For more information, read the “Your Adverse Medical Examination” brochure.
- It is important to have your injuries treated as soon as possible by your own physician. The longer you wait to be treated the easier it may be for your insurer to deny your claims.
- Scheduling periodic follow up appointments with your physician is a good way to make sure you are making a good recovery from your injuries.
When would I make a personal injury claim against the other drivers’ insurance company?
If you’re injury is more significant, you may be entitled to additional compensation for your losses. These losses include medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, disability, disfigurement, emotional distress and other losses. You may also have a claim from losses resulting from the injury or death of your spouse, your child, or certain loved ones.
In order to recover for these types of losses you may need to show:
- Permanent injury; or
- Over $4,000 in medical bills; or
- Disability for more than 60 days; or
- Permanent disfigurement; or
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. If you go to court for your property damage, you may give up any right to make a claim for injuries in the future, so it is important to consult an attorney.
Do I have to give any insurer a statement?
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, multiple insurance companies may request that you sign a statement or give a tape-recorded statement regarding the facts of the accident. You are not required to give a statement to the insurance company representing the other driver involved in the accident. If you have received a request from the other insurer, contact an attorney for advice.
Once your initial claim has been made, your insurer will assign your case to an adjuster. That person will contact you for more details about the car accident. Generally, it is unnecessary for you to provide any additional statements. However, in certain situations, insurers may have a right to a statement. Even though the request is coming from your insurer, it is wise to talk to an attorney before providing any statements.
Am I required to sign a release to obtain no fault benefits?
No. There is no reason to sign a release to obtain the no-fault benefits you are entitled to, or to have your expenses paid.
How long do I wait for my no fault insurer to pay medical and other expenses?
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.
What if I feel like I am not being treated fairly by my insurance company?
You should contact an attorney.
When should I contact an attorney following a car accident?
The best advice is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances an attorney may want to collect evidence that may or may not be available later. Further, an attorney may want to advise you on the best ways to proceed following an injury.
The information provided on this website does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. Speak to an attorney if you or a loved one wants legal advice in regard to an injury.