What Does My No-Fault Car Insurance Cover? | No-Fault Series, Part 2: Wage Loss BenefitsJun. 1, 2022
What Does My No-Fault Car Insurance Cover?
No-Fault Series, Part 2: Wage Loss Benefits
By Melissa Heinlein, Esq.
Welcome to part two of our four part series about no-fault automobile benefits. Today we are answering the commonly asked question: who covers my wage loss if I miss work because of a car accident?
When you've been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, life's biggest stressors collide. Suddenly, all your attention is going to medical care, recovery, fixing your vehicle, and managing sky-high expenses, and often being unable to work due to injuries. It can feel impossible to look beyond the present moment and consider when it will be possible to go back to work full-time. When that moment comes, and you ask yourself if you're ready to go back, you need to be well-acquainted with the benefits you are entitled to under Minnesota's no-fault insurance statute.
The most important thing to know is that it is possible to take time away from work without jeopardizing your finances.
• Minnesota No Fault Act: Pursuant to the Minnesota No Fault Act, automobile insurance policies must provide a minimum of $20,000 of wage loss coverage if you are unable to work due to injuries sustained in a car accident. This is a separate pool of funds from the $20,000 no-fault has available for medical treatment, and you are entitled to both under any auto insurance policy in our state. Partial benefits are available to you if you can only return to work on a part-time basis. However, it is important to note that no-fault wage loss benefits only pay 85% of your gross income. The maximum weekly payment they will issue is $500, even if 85% of your gross income is higher than $500.
• Proof of wage loss: If you're worried about a shortfall in your income based on the limits of what no-fault can pay, your personal injury attorney can help you make up that difference. With proof of wage loss from your employer and documentation from your doctor stating that the leave is necessary, the shortfall in your income can be addressed in your bodily injury claim against the at-fault driver. It will be factored into the total damages your attorney presents to the liability insurer. Your personal injury attorney will go to bat for you to get every dollar you are owed when it's time to negotiate a settlement or go to trial.
• Pursue recommended treatment: All this being said, it is crucial that you give yourself the time and care needed to heal from your injuries. In order for your attorney to make a persuasive case for the severity of your injuries, you need to pursue all the treatment your primary care team recommends and take leave from work as they deem necessary. This is the best way to illustrate the extent of your injuries to the insurance companies. Of course, that's a daunting prospect—treatment takes time and energy that many of us don't have to spare. For instance, a recommended course of physical therapy may be 2 sessions per week for 10 weeks and might only be available during normal business hours. It's important to know that you may be entitled to wage loss compensation for the time you take from work to go to appointments for accident-related care. Your attorney can help you document the time and mileage to request reimbursement.
There are a few other less-common situations that may apply to you as well. If you're an injured small business owner and you must hire substitute employees to step in, that is also an expense you may reimbursed for—up to $500 a week. If you were receiving unemployment benefits at the time of the accident and lose eligibility because of losing the ability to work, you are eligible to receive no-fault wage loss benefits matching your previous unemployment rate. This would also max out at $500 a week.
The prospect of losing income can make it seem impossible to heal from your accident AND stay afloat financially, but Minnesota state law requires automobile insurers to provide certain benefits to anyone injured in an automobile accident, regardless of fault. The processes are not always straightforward, but your personal injury attorney is here to help you navigate them so you can focus on your recovery and healing.
If you have been injured in a car accident and have questions about what benefits you are entitled to through your no-fault benefits, please call for a free consultation. I would be happy to discuss your concerns. At Lord + Heinlein, we are your powerful legal voice.