Insurance can be confusing, there’s no doubt about that.
A few years back I worked for a widely-known car insurance company in the claims department, and boy did I see and hear it all from people livid about decisions made in regards to payouts to claims that were 100% fraudulent.
One thing that was consistent though is that there was always confusion surrounding Minnesota’s laws when it came to different types of accidents. Here, I shed a little light on the subject so that if you, or anyone you know, are in such an unfortunate situation, you know exactly what to do.
Minnesota No Fault Coverage
This is by far the most common thing people were just downright confused about in every auto accident claims call I received.
Many seem to have the notion when they hear “no fault” that, if they didn’t cause the accident, they and their insurance company are automatically not responsible for anything.
This unfortunately has nothing to do with what that law means.
In Minnesota, No-Fault Insurance is required for all owners and drivers of cars and trucks (motorcycles are different). On any car insurance plan in Minnesota, you’ll notice coverage called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is required upon purchasing. This is the coverage that pays what’s called “No-Fault” medical expenses.
In Minnesota any medical expenses due to injuries in a car accident, regardless of fault or not, are paid by your own insurance company.
Yes, that means if someone runs a red light and smashed into the side of your car causing injuries to you while driving, your own insurance company still pays for your medical expenses through your personal injury protection coverage.
And no need to worry, if you are found not at fault, this will have no bearing on your insurance premiums going up.
What No Fault Does Not Cover
Minnesota No-Fault laws only apply to medical expenses. This has nothing to do with liability in the accident. And it does not include property damage to vehicles or pain and suffering type claims.
Claims can be made beyond your Minnesota No-Fault benefits against another owner’s insurance if the following happens:
- Majority of the fault in the accident is proven to be caused by the other driver
- You meet Minnesota’s No Fault Thresholds which are either medical treatment expenses in excess of $4,000, inability to work for 60 days or more, permanent injury/disfigurement, or death.
In example, if you have some slight neck pain from an accident covered by another driver and you go see a doctor once for a few hundred dollars, and then the pain goes away, you do not have the ability under Minnesota Law to sue for an injury claim against the other driver.
There are many scenarios where things can take turns such as uninsured motorists etc, but save that for your insurance company to deal with.
Who’s At Fault in an Accident?
There are many types of accidents where the fault in an accident is very clear cut. For example, say someone rear ends your vehicle while you’re stopped at a light.
In this case, 99% of the time the person behind you is going to be 100% at fault for the accident and therefore liable for any damages to your car.
However, what many do not know is that Minnesota is a state that has adapted modified comparative negligence where both drivers can be liable for a certain percentage of the accident.
Under Minnesota law, if the plaintiff’s fault is greater than the defendants, then the plaintiff is not allowed to collect damages. However if the defendant’s fault is equal or greater than the plaintiffs, the plaintiff is allowed to collect damages.
In example, one driver could be found 75% at fault for an accident and the other driver may be found 25% at fault. This is called “contributory negligence”.
In this case, the first driver could only collect back 75% of the damages caused from the 2nd driver’s insurance company.
So just remember this when you’re trying to burn through that yellow light to make it through the intersection before it turns red. If you speed up to make it through the light in time and someone else attempts a left hand turn because they thing you’re going to stop for the red light and you collide, it’s possible you may still have some fault in the accident. (such as the 25%).
This is why it’s so important to obey all the laws and operate a vehicle under what is called “duty of care”. Although you may yell at the other driver for taking a left hand turn in front of you at the light, you also need to acknowledge that you probably shouldn’t have tried to make it through that light.
Car insurance laws in Minnesota can be very confusing, but hopefully this sheds a bit of light on two major sources of arguments after accidents occur.
Please feel free to send any questions or comments my way.
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