MN Supreme Court: Household Services Recoverable Under PIP Coverage Even if not Actually Replaced

In Schroeder v. Western National Mut. Ins. Co., No. A13-2289, (Minn. June 17, 2015), the Minnesota Supreme Court said that an injured motorist who lived alone and was unable to perform her normal housekeeping duties was eligible to recover the value of replacement services under her PIP (no-fault) coverage, despite the fact that such services were not actually replaced/performed. Accoridng to the court, the no-fault statute, Minn. Stat. § 65B.44 subd. 5, allows such recovery so long as the injured claimant is the one primarily responsible for the upkeep of the home.

This decision extends the holding of Rindahl v. National Farmers Union Ins. Co., 373 N.W.2d 294 (MInn. 1985), in which the Minnesota Supreme Court allowed the primary caretaker to recover the value of replacement services under PIP coverage where the services were not paid for, but were instead performed by the rest of her family.

The holding in the recent Schroeder case means that in all cases in which an insured PIP claimant can prove to be the primary caretaker of the home, the potential defenses will be limited. There will no longer be a defense based on the question of whether the replacement services were actually performed. In such a case, the only defenses now appear to be based on the questions of (1) whether the claimant's injuries caused an inability to perform such services, and, if so, (2) the value of the services which the claimant was unable to perform.