Who will help me after I have been injured in a car accident? | No-Fault Series, Part 4: Replacement ServicesAug. 24, 2022
Who will help me after I have been injured in a car accident?
No-Fault Series, Part 4: Replacement Services
By Melissa Heinlein, Esq.
After you have been injured in a car accident, who will take care of all your household chores that you are unable to do? Will family, friends, or hired help step in to ease the burden of childcare, cleaning, snow removal, and other essential tasks? If so, who will compensate them for their work?
Most of my clients find that they need to ask for (and pay for) help when they are injured in a car accident. Healing takes time, but household chores must continue to be taken care of, especially if you have small children at home. When you require household assistance after sustaining severe injuries in a car accident, the Minnesota No Fault Act requires your car insurance to provide monetary coverage for others to step in and help you.
Most people are familiar with the medical expense and wage loss benefits available to them through their auto insurance's Personal Injury Protection benefits (also known as No Fault benefits). This lesser-known line of coverage, replacement services (also known as essential services), exists to compensate those who assist you with your household tasks if you become unable to do so because of car accident-related injuries. Eligibility does not depend on whether you are a full-time homemaker or employed outside the home. In addition to the examples above, our clients have obtained compensation for pet care, transportation needs to obtain groceries or other essential items for their household, yard labor, laundry, and more—basically, any task which would normally be completed by you to keep your household running smoothly.
You must have a doctor's note or order indicating the period of time and which types of tasks you are unable to perform in order to ensure that you do not have difficulty processing your claim for replacement or essential services. Remember, when you are injured in a car accident, it is important to have all of your injuries and care thoroughly documented by a medical doctor. This includes any difficulties or limitations you experience as a result of your injuries.
The person replacing you in your role around the house can be a professional/licensed provider of the service, but it does not have to be. It may very well be your spouse, adult child, friend, or another person close to you. If you are paying an individual or business for their services, be sure to keep all receipts to submit with your claim. If the person is a family member or friend who is volunteering their time for you, you should closely track and document their hours and what services they assisted with.
As a car accident attorney, I assist our clients in documenting and submitting replacement services claims frequently. We consider fair market rates for similar services and work with you to assign a reasonable value to the time spent in order to request appropriate compensation from your insurer. Our best results have come when clients start keeping a journal or spreadsheet tracking their replacement services as soon as possible following the accident. Think about how hard it would be to recall specific dates and times a year after someone mowed your lawn or went to the grocery store for you?
It is important to be aware of the limitations of this line of coverage. The maximum benefit available is generally just $200 per week, and it does not take effect until seven days following the car accident. However, if your injuries are severe, and it takes a long time for you to heal, this benefit adds up quickly. It is not something you want to just leave sitting on the table. If your No-Fault benefits are cut off after an independent medical examination (see Part 3 in this blog series), compensation for replacement services will also be discontinued.
If you have questions about whether you are entitled to replacement services benefits, please call for a free consultation. At Lord + Heinlein, we are your powerful legal voice!