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Terminology in a Car Accident Case - Part I

There is a lot of terminology that is thrown around in a car accident case. Some is intuitive, but some is not. This blog serves as guide to define some of the terminology you will encounter.

"Bodily Injury (BI) Claim" or "At-Fault Claim": If you are injured in a car accident and someone else caused the accident, you will have a bodily injury claim against the at-fault person. This claim is commonly referred to as a "bodily injury (BI)" or "at-fault" claim. In Minnesota, every automobile insurance policy is required to provide not less than $30,000 in insurance coverage for bodily injures to one person in any one accident and not less than $60,000 in insurance coverage for bodily injuries to two or more persons injured in any one accident. These minimum limits are commonly referred to as "30/60" limits for bodily injuries.

"No-Fault Claim" and "No-Fault Insurance": In Minnesota, every automobile insurance policy is required to carry certain coverage that is provided to you if you are injured in a car accident regardless of whether you were at fault in causing the accident. Every automobile insurance policy is required to carry $20,000 in no-fault medical coverage and $20,000 in no-fault wage loss/replacement service coverage. If your no-fault carrier denies no-fault benefits, you have a right to file a no-fault arbitration claim to challenge that determination.

"Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage" and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage": Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage applies in situations where you are injured in a car accident and someone else is at fault for the accident, but the at-fault person either does not have bodily injury coverage OR does not have enough bodily injury coverage to adequately compensate you for your injuries. UM/UIM coverage is provided through your automobile policy. It does not hurt to contact your insurance agent to review your UM/UIM limits, as accidents are frequently caused by individuals who do not have bodily injury coverage or do not have enough bodily injury coverage to adequately compensate individuals injured.

"Subrogation" and "Collateral Source Offsets": If you are injured in a car accident, you may have benefits paid on your behalf. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and seek medical attention, the treatment provider will likely send the bill to your no-fault insurance provider. However, sometimes, for a variety of reasons, your private health insurance company will cover medical expenses.

If no-fault pays medical bills, this will lead to a "collateral offset" at trial. This means that, as part of a jury verdict, a jury will award you money for medical bills incurred on your behalf stemming from the accident. But, because you are not "out-of-pocket" for those bills, the judge will reduce the jury verdict by the amount that no-fault rightfully paid.

If a private health insurance company pays medical bills on your behalf, that company will have a "subrogated interest" in litigation against an at-fault party. This means that if you recover money from an at-fault party, the health insurance company may be entitled to be repaid some or all of the benefits that were provided you. Subrogation is a complicated area of law and should only be addressed by experienced personal injury attorneys.

More Information: As indicated above, this blog is Part I in a series of blogs defining terminology that applies to car accident cases. Check out our blog as we continue to post additional terms. Also, we have blogged extensively about personal injury issues. Click here to review those other blog posts.

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