Navigating insurance claims and determining whether you can pursue compensation from other drivers after an accident can be confusing. Laws on fault vary from state to state. Minnesota is a no-fault state, meaning you must seek coverage for your injuries from your own insurer. But if that coverage doesn’t cover your losses, you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. If you need help pursuing compensation when your no-fault insurance policy caps out, talk to our experienced car accident lawyers at Sieben Polk Law Firm.
Each state uses a specific fault or negligence system for handling automobile accident claims. Many states use fault-based systems, using fault as a defining factor in determining who is responsible for covering damages associated with an accident. However, some states follow a no-fault system, in which drivers must purchase insurance policies to cover their damages, regardless of fault.
Is Minnesota a no-fault state? Yes, Minnesota uses a no-fault system, which is starkly different from at-fault systems. Fault plays little role in coverage up to policy limits but is pivotal in pursuing damages beyond those caps.
Is Minnesota a No-Fault State?
While many states use a fault system to determine whether incidents fall under the insurance coverage umbrella, a handful of states use no-fault laws for insurance. Minnesota is one of those that employs a no-fault system for motor vehicle accidents.
What Does No-Fault Mean?
Fault plays a crucial role in many states, as it determines how the victims and the insurance companies handle the incident. However, no-fault states don’t use fault as a determining factor in the aftermath of an accident when damages fall within coverage limits.
These states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage on top of other types of insurance coverage.
This coverage type does not depend on who is at fault for causing the accident. Under an at-fault system, the injured victim would pursue compensation from the individual responsible for causing the accident. However, in a no-fault system, the injured individual must seek compensation through a claim they file with their own insurance company.
The insurance company covers specific losses associated with the accident, regardless of who was at fault.
How Is Fault Determined in Minnesota?
While Minnesota is a no-fault state, some damages may exceed the amount your no-fault insurance policy covers. When this happens, fault comes into play.
Minnesota uses a comparative fault system and modified comparative negligence, meaning drivers cannot collect any damages from other parties if they are 51 percent or more at fault for the incident. You can recover damages if your fault does not exceed the other driver’s. However, the compensation recoverable is reduced in proportion to your share of the fault. Determining the percentage of fault each driver carries depends on the circumstances of the accident.
For example, suppose a speeding car rear-ends Susie’s car. At first glance, the other driver is clearly responsible for the accident and carries most—if not all—of the blame. However, seconds before the accident, Susie abruptly changed lanes without signaling properly.
Susie is partially at fault for the accident. The insurer may determine that the other driver is 60 percent responsible, while Susie was 40 percent responsible. In this example, Susie could pursue damages from the other driver if her injuries exceed her no-fault insurance coverage limits.
However, Minnesota’s modified comparative negligence rule can minimize the damages you can recover from the other driver. If a jury determines Susie’s fault to be 40 percent, the amount she can recover will drop by that amount. For example, if Susie suffered $10,000 in damages but is 40 percent at fault, she may only recover $6,000 from the other party.
A similar story can apply to other situations, such as an instance involving tailgating and brake checks between a truck and a motorcycle. Assigning fault and determining damages amounts comes down to the circumstances of the incident.
Who Is Covered Under Minnesota’s No-Fault Car Insurance?
Unlike some no-fault states, Minnesota drivers must carry no-fault car insurance. This policy covers the expenses associated with injuries to you and your passengers up to a certain threshold, which varies based on your policy.
What Losses Are Covered in a Minnesota No-Fault/PIP Claim?
No-fault insurance and PIP coverage are one and the same, and the terms are often used interchangeably. These policies cover various losses associated with a covered accident, including the following:
- Medical expenses
- Wage loss
- Replacement services, such as housekeeping
- Up to $2,000 in funeral expenses in wrongful death cases.
Losses unassociated with personal injuries and the subsequent consequences fall under different types of coverage. No-fault insurance doesn’t offer sweeping coverage.
For example, if your car is totaled or needs extensive repairs to restore it to road-safe conditions, your no-fault insurance policy won’t cover these expenses. Instead, you would need a different insurance policy to cover this, such as a comprehensive car or collision insurance policy.
Who Pays for Damages in a No-Fault Claim?
In a no-fault claim, the insurance company supplying your personal injury protection insurance is responsible for covering damages up to a set limit.
The deductible in your insurance policy is the primary out-of-pocket expense you’re responsible for paying in a no-fault claim. Once you pay this amount, your no-fault insurance coverage kicks in and covers associated costs up to your policy limit.
Minnesota’s minimum no-fault insurance coverage amount is $40,000, which is available to each person injured in the accident. Half is dedicated to medical expenses, while the remaining $20,000 goes toward non-medical bills. Higher coverage amounts are available at a higher cost, but every driver must carry the minimum amount.
Suppose expenses stemming from your accident exceed your policy limit. In that case, the door to pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver opens, provided you don’t share 51 percent or more of the responsibility for the accident.
If you are less than 51 percent at fault for the accident, making a claim against the other driver’s liability coverage might be viable. In Susie’s rear-end car accident case, she could pursue damages from the other driver’s liability coverage if they exceed her own no-fault coverage since she carries a smaller percentage of the blame.
She could pursue compensation for pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and similar non quantifiable damages. These damages are noneconomic and aren’t part of a no-fault insurance policy’s coverage, but they might be recoverable in a lawsuit.
How Long Do I Have To File My Car Accident Claim?
Like many states, Minnesota outlines specific timelines wherein drivers must file a claim. To pursue compensation from your insurance provider in a no-fault claim, you must file within six months of the accident.
According to the Minnesota statute of limitations, you must file your car accident claim against the other driver within six years of the incident. This applies when the expenses associated with your injuries from the accident exceed your coverage limits.
If you fail to file a claim within the specified time frame, you may forfeit your ability to pursue compensation from the at-fault party. Due to the time constraints surrounding these claims, contacting a lawyer immediately is crucial.
Our Car Accident Lawyers Are Here To Help
Navigating the ins and outs of Minnesota’s no-fault insurance policies can be complicated, especially when your associated expenses exceed your policy limits. This is where a skilled car accident lawyer comes in. While you focus on healing, your lawyer can pursue legal action to help you seek the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact the experienced Eagan car crash lawyers. Call Sieben Polk Law Firm at 651-437-3148 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation.