What is “No-Fault” Insurance?

Over the years people have told me that they expect their insurance company to pay for damage to their car if they are in an accident. If you have the proper coverage this is true. But did you know that your insurance company will pay for your medical bills and some of your lost wages if you are injured? This insurance is called “personal injury protection (PIP) or so-called “no-fault” insurance.

What does that mean?

Under both North Dakota and Minnesota law you are mandated to carry no-fault or PIP insurance on your car for your protection. Your insurance agent will include it in your insurance quote without being asked since it is a requirement.

What is the coverage?

It is insurance coverage to cover you for medical bills that arise as a result of an car (or in some circumstances a pedestrian) accident. The coverage is available regardless of “fault” in causing the accident.

In North Dakota, the mandated coverage is $30,000 (although you can pay for more). This amount can be used to pay medical bills or lost wages as a result of your injury. Lost wages are limited to $150 per week with some exceptions in North Dakota. Minnesota also mandates that you have coverage for lost wages in the maximum amount of $20,000. The amount is limited to 85% of your present and future gross income from your inability to work subject to a maximum of $500 per week.

How do I get payment?

First, make sure you get the medical care you need. But as soon as you can, contact your insurance company. Tell it that you were in a crash and describe the circumstances. Ask it to open a “claim” for you. If it requires a “no-fault” application obtain it, fill it out and send it back to your insurance company. Each time you get medical treatment tell your provider that your injury is related to a car accident and give them the name of your insurance company and the claim number. Make sure all of your bills are submitted timely to your insurance company so that there is no delay in payment.

What happens if your bills continue to mount?

In certain circumstances your car insurance carrier will team up with your health insurer to pay the bills. This usually happens after the bills total a certain amount. You will get notice of this from the insurance companies. If you continue to treat for a long time your car insurance carrier may ask you to see another doctor to determine the scope and permanency of your injuries.

Trouble securing coverage

If you have trouble securing coverage, or if your company discontinues benefits, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney. Sometimes it is necessary for legal professionals to get involved to ensure that you are getting the benefits that you are entitled to. This may not mean suing the company. Starting a lawsuit is usually the last resort. Your legal professional may be able to secure coverage in other ways short of litigation. However, if a lawsuit is required you can often secure your attorney’s fees if you win.

Personal Injury Protection or no-fault insurance is a benefit that you pay for when you insure a car in North Dakota or Minnesota. Make sure you use it correctly if you are injured. Seek the advice of a legal professional if you are not being treated fairly by the insurance company

Joseph Wetch is a Fargo, ND attorney. He regularly represents injured people in car accidents. Contact him at 701-232-8957 or jwetch@serklandlaw.com