When asking the question, “Who pays my bills after a bike crash?” the answer is often, “It depends.” In Minnesota, the rules of no-fault insurance apply to any crash with a motor vehicle. This means you must first look to your own auto insurance company.
For example, if a biker is injured in an automobile accident and has injuries that are treated in the emergency room, the emergency room treatment bill should be paid by the injured person’s automobile insurer. In other words, the injured person’s insurer is required to pay the treatment bill without regard for who is at fault for the accident.
However, certain exceptions apply, especially in the case of a biker who doesn’t have an auto insurance policy.
Step 1: Your Own Auto Insurance Provider
Under Minnesota law, a person involved in a motor vehicle accident typically receives coverage for medical and wage loss expenses from his or her own no-fault insurance. This is true whether you were involved as a driver, cyclist or pedestrian. Your standard no-fault insurance policy (also known as personal injury protection or PIP) provides the following coverage:
- Medical expenses: The no-fault insurer will pay reasonable and necessary medical expenses, up to $20,000. These include hospital, physicians, chiropractors, massage, physical therapy, prescription medication and prosthetic devices. Other forms of medical care and healing are also covered.
- Wage loss: The no-fault insurer will pay up to $20,000 in wage loss if your doctor indicates you cannot work because of your injury. The no-fault insurer will pay 85% of your average weekly wage, up to $500.00 per week. Every case is different and you will need documented disability slips from your doctor to obtain wage loss benefits.
- Mileage to and from covered medical treatment: The no-fault insurer will pay approximately $0.32 per mile for travel to and from your doctor appointments.
- Replacement services: The no-fault insurer will pay for the reasonable value of having someone else perform your regular household duties if your doctor indicates you cannot perform them because of your injury. The no-fault insurer will pay up to $200.00 per week, depending on the policy language and the facts of your case.
- Primary homemaker benefits: If you feel that you cannot do your normal household duties, and you doctor agrees, you may be entitled to an additional $200.00 per week, depending on the policy language and the facts of your case. This applies even if you do not hire anyone to help.
- Other miscellaneous benefits: There may be other benefits available to you depending on the facts of your case, but the above serves to give you a general idea of the no-fault benefit system.
What most people do not understand is that your own no-fault insurance kicks in regardless of who caused the accident. If the driver caused the accident, you may pursue a claim for compensation against the at-fault driver, but this claim is independent of any no-fault benefits that are available after you are injured.
PIP coverage does not include compensation for property damage. If you have a property damage claim, and it can be established that you are not at fault for the crash, your property damage claim is submitted to the at-fault driver’s insurer.
What If I Don’t Have Auto Insurance?
If you do not own or have your own auto insurance, you then look to a relative/family member with whom you live who owns a car with a policy of insurance. If you live alone or your relative/family member does not have insurance, you may then pursue a claim for no-fault coverage against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Step 2: The Driver’s Insurance Company
After your PIP or no-fault coverage runs out, you may seek compensation from the at-fault driver by making a liability claim against their policy of insurance. Liability coverage in Minnesota generally includes the following coverage:
- Bodily injury: The driver’s liability insurance is required to compensate you for your injuries and other harms and losses.
- Property damage: You can seek reimbursement for damage done to your bike, gear and other property.
The limits can vary greatly, as policyholders elect to purchase as much coverage as they deem appropriate. As of July 2017, the minimum limits of liability coverage in Minnesota are $30,000 per person/$60,000 in the aggregate.
What if the Driver Doesn’t Have Enough (or Any) Insurance?
You may face a situation where the at-fault driver does not have enough liability insurance to cover your expenses. A biker who has automobile insurance may be able to collect from his/her own insurance company, even though he/she wasn’t driving a car when the accident happened. In situations such as this, it is best to contact a lawyer knowledgeable in bike crashes to help you assess your options.
Get Help Navigating the Insurance Maze
It is possible to have multiple insurance claims for a single bike crash. If you get hurt after an accident and your bike is damaged, make sure to speak with an experienced injury attorney about your options for compensation. Your initial consultation with any injury lawyer is free, and your lawyer’s fees come straight out of any damages you receive due to your claim. So, call a lawyer or two, learn what you need to know, and take the necessary steps to take care of yourself.
About the Author
Attorney Daniel J. Brazil of The Law Offices of Daniel J. Brazil is an experienced personal injury attorney with offices located in Uptown. He has a passion for the outdoors, especially cycling and climbing. Learn more about Dan and his practice by following him on Twitter (@LawDanielBrazil and #MplsBikeAttorney).