No-Fault Economic Loss Benefits for Auto Accident Clarified

The Court of Appeals issued an opinion clarifying what no-fault economic loss benefits individuals are entitled to following an automobile accident.

The question was whether an individual is entitled to $500 per week, as specified by the January 1, 2015 amendment, or the previous statutory maximum of $250 per week, if the insurance policy was in force before the amendment's effective date.

The Court of Appeals held that the Claimant was entitled to $500 for any wage loss incurred after the January 1, 2015 statutory amendment, according to the unpublished case of Platz v. Progressive Direct Insurance decided on April 17, 2017.

Here's the background:

On December 24, 2014, the plaintiff, Sue Platz, was injured in an automobile accident, and, subsequently, received economic loss benefits under her no-fault auto insurance policy in the amount of $250 per week for 5 months.

After an amendment to the Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act raised the statutory maximum to $500 per week on January 1, 2015, the plaintiff petitioned for a no-fault arbitration, arguing she was entitled to the new statutory maximum.

The arbitrator disagreed, finding that Platz's insurance policy with defendant, Progressive Direct Insurance, was governed by the law in effect when the policy was issued and the amendment to the no-fault act does not apply to claims arising from accidents that occurred before January 1, 2015. Platz brought an action in district court seeking to partially vacate or modify the arbitrator's award, arguing the arbitrator "erroneously interpreted the no-fault act." The district court denied the motion and Platz appealed.

The Court of Appeals of Minnesota reversed the district court's ruling, citing Hoben v. City of Minneapolis in its decision. In Hoben, the court held that "basic economic loss benefits are payable monthly as loss accrues. Loss accrues not when injury occurs, but as income loss...is incurred."

Applying the Hoben court's analysis, the Court of Appeals concluded the district court erred by denying Platz's motion to partially vacate or modify the arbitrator's award; it further stated Platz was entitled to economic loss benefits of as much as $500 per week as of January 1, 2015, and thereafter.

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