No-Fault Laws and Personal Injury Claims

More than half of Americans cannot afford an unexpected $400 expense without resorting to borrowing money from friends or family. While appliance repairs and emergency travel are common causes of unexpected expenses, medical bills are among the most unavoidable. Beyond a certain point, you cannot put off medical care when you need it. You especially cannot put it off when you are injured in an accident. In fact, if you contact a car wreck attorney after your accident, one of the first things he or she will ask about is your medical expenses.  A car crash attorney can help you navigate North Dakota’s laws in order to arrange for proper payment and/or reimbursement for medical expenses incurred as a result of your accident-related injuries.

No-Fault Laws in North Dakota 

Many people have a misconception of who should cover their accident-related medical expenses following a car wreck. Contrary to common belief, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not the first place you should look to for payment of your medical bills. No matter who may be at fault for an accident, North Dakota’s no-fault laws provide that an injured party’s own motor-vehicle insurance company is generally the first place to look for coverage of medical expenses. North Dakota law states that your insurance company can provide you with up to $30,000 for coverage of medical expenses and lost wages, incurred as a result of a car crash.

While this no-fault coverage can help resolve some of the immediate issues you would otherwise have as a result of unexpected medical bills, it often times is not sufficient to fully compensate an injured party. Recovering enough money to cover your medical expenses is arguably the most important purpose of hiring a personal injury attorney. Even people who have proper insurance in place can still end up with bigger medical bills than they cannot afford after an accident.

What is Included Under the Definition of Medical Expenses?

A personal injury attorney can help you recover many different kinds of medical expenses.  For example, the following types of expenses are all considered in a personal injury case:

  • Hospital bills for emergency room visits or hospitalizations
  • Physician services rendered during a hospital stay
  • Outpatient physician visits to primary care doctors or specialists
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Medical devices
  • Medical testing, including blood tests, X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs
  • Home health aide services
  • Surgeries performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis
  • Prescription drugs

 No-fault Coverage is Not Your Only Recourse

If the coverage provided by your own no-fault insurance policy is insufficient to cover all of your accident-related damages, a personal injury attorney can help you seek other avenues in order to obtain additional reimbursement. Often times, that means filing a liability claim against the other driver in the crash.  The purpose of filing a liability claim is to recover a one-time, lump-sum payment from the at-fault driver, or their insurance company, for the accident-related damages incurred by an injured party, which a no-fault policy might not cover. According to North Dakota law, liability claims are only valid for injuries that resulted in at least $2,500 in medical expenses or required you to miss work for more than 60 days. On occasion, liability claims can be settled without the need for a formal lawsuit, but sometimes, a lawsuit becomes necessary. Either way, it is best to consult with an attorney before settling a liability claim.

Future Medical Expenses

Some accidents result in the need for ongoing medical care; people injured in accidents can face years of treatment, physical therapy, and reliance on medical devices, medications, and home health aide services. If you still need more treatment after the time you file the lawsuit, the court can require the defendant to pay for future medical expenses, in addition to the expenses you have already incurred. The court calculates future medical expenses based on how much more treatment your doctors estimate you will need, as well as how much it is likely to cost.

Who is Responsible for the Injured Party’s Medical Expenses?

If a settlement cannot be reached with regard to a liability claim/lawsuit, the claim will be resolved through a trial. A court will find in the plaintiff’s favor if the plaintiff can show by a preponderance of the evidence (meaning that it is more likely than not) that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident, or failed to prevent it. Defendants can include drivers at fault for car wrecks, and owners of the vehicle operated by the at fault driver.  If the court finds in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant can be held responsible for medical expenses, as well as other damages incurred by the injured plaintiff as a result of the collision.

Contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss About Car Accident Injury Cases

The best thing to do if you have suffered an injury in a car crash is to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. It is important to contact a personal injury attorney whenever you are injured in an accident, in order to make sure that you are exploring every avenue to obtain a full and fair reimbursement for all of the damages you sustain. Attorneys Tatum O’Brien, Tim O’Keeffe, and Sara Monson may be able to help you recover damages beyond what the insurance companies offer you. Contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss in Fargo, North Dakota or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 for a consultation.

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