How am I Compensated if I am Injured in a Car Accident?
By Melissa Heinlein, Esq.
One of the first questions I am asked by clients as a Minneapolis car accident lawyer is how will thier injuries be covered? If you were hurt in a car accident that was not your fault, you likely will have two separate initial claims: No Fault and bodily injury liability.
NO FAULT or "PIP" COVERAGE
No fault, also known as Personal Injury Protection or "PIP" coverage, is your claim to your own automobile insurance company for initial coverage of some of your damages. This coverage is available to you regardless of who is at fault in the crash. It is required that automobile insurance companies provide this protection to you in Minnesota as part of your policy as outlined in the No Fault Act found in Ch. 65B Minn. Statututes. This coverage includes cost of medical treatment, wage loss (usually covered at a maximum of $500 per week), and coverage for essential or replacement services in the instance you need assistance in your home such as cleaning or self care assistance. It is important that you notify your insurance company as soon as possible following an accident and complete an application for benefits. It is always a good idea to have an attorney assist you with this process right away. Additionally, be sure to communicate with your providers that your injuries were the result of a car accident so that they know to send you bills to your automobile insurance for coverage under your PIP. Wage loss and replacement services benefits should be paid out to you as you accrue the damages in the days and weeks following the crash and should be processed and paid no later than 30 days following your report of the loss.
BODILY INJURY LIABILITY COVERAGE
Bodily injury liability coverage refers to the insurance coverage that is held by the driver who caused the car accident (the "at fault" driver). Unlike No Fault coverage, bodily injury liability coverage does not get paid out as your damages accrue. This insurance claim will be paid out in one lump sum either as a settlement or, if you must take your case to court, as a jury verdict award. As a general matter, insurance companies work diligently to settle bodily injury claims for a little as possible, as soon as possible. If you have been in an accident and have not consulted with an attorney regarding your rights, you are particularly vulnerable and insurance adjusters know this. I am always concerned if my client has spoken to the at fault driver's insurance prior to contacting me. You should always consult with a lawyer before giving any statements to insurance companies, even your own. Be aware of early offers to settle by the other driver's insurance company. You should never settle a case if you are still treating or have not fully realized the extent of your injuries or other damages since you will only have the one shot to settle your bodily injury liability claim. Once you settle, you cannot go back and get more.
Most personal injury attorneys provide a free consultation and work on a contingency fee, meaning they don't get paid unless they win. You never need to write them a check or pay a retainer fee out of pocket. If you are in a car accident you should call a Minneapolis personal injury attorney for a free consultation to be sure that you are protecting your rights and doing everything you can to protect yourself and the value of your claim.
If you have any questions about your automobile insurance coverage or if you have been in a car accident, please do not hesitate to contact me at 612-333-5673 for a free consultation. At Lord + Heinlein, we are your powerful legal voice.