A car accident can happen to any person without warning. The sprawling expanse of Minnesota requires many residents to make long commutes and be on the road for hours at a time.
Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety recorded over 79,000 vehicle crashes in 2018, and more than 172,000 people were involved in accidents. On an average day in 2018, 217 vehicle crashes occurred, one person died, and more than 75 people suffered injuries on the road.
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you can protect yourself in the immediate aftermath of a collision or crash. An experienced car accident lawyer in Minnesota can help protect you and your rights as you go through the process of filing a claim and dealing with an at-fault driver.
Contributing Factors In Minnesota Car Crashes
A car crash can occur at any time and for a number of reasons. In 2018, the most common contributing factor for car accidents in Minnesota was road surface conditions. Minneosta winters are long and harsh, and blizzard-like conditions can disrupt your commute and cause an accident.
Other contributing factors in Minnesota car accidents include:
- reckless driving
- speeding or swerving
- improper lane usage, turns, or merging
- distracted driving
- neglecting road/traffic signs
- visibility issues
- over-congestion or traffic
- running stop signs or red lights
- defective brakes or mechanical systems
- other human errors
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Common Car Crash Injuries In Minnesota
In 2018 alone, over 25,000 people suffered some kind of injury in a traffic crash in Minnesota. Over 1,660 people were seriously injured, and more than 16,700 people experienced minor injuries.
Examples of common car accident injuries include:
- scrapes and cuts
- head injuries
- broken ribs
- broken bones
- internal bleeding
- knee trauma
- herniated disc
- psychological injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
What You Should Do After A Car Accident In Minnesota
The scene of an accident can be dangerous, so make sure you stay safe in the immediate aftermath of a crash. To build a legal claim after a car accident, be sure to take certain steps following the accident. The first step is to attend to your safety and injuries and call 9-1-1 for help.
Call For Help
Call emergency services straightaway. Once on the phone with a dispatcher, give them your location by noting the nearest intersection, mile marker, or identifying landmark. Report any injuries for every person involved in the crash. Stand by and wait for first responders to show up.
After calling for help and dealing with injuries, you may be asked to show your driver’s license if anyone requests it. This is required by Minnesota law.
At the scene of the crash, you should also exchange information like:
- birth date
- name and address
- insurance information (agent, company name, address)
- vehicle registration
Notify Emergency Personnel Of Your Injuries
If you were injured in a car accident, do not refuse any medical attention or treatment. Be clear about your symptoms or injuries, which could be obvious (like a broken bone). Other injuries may not be so obvious and may not occur until much later (head trauma, PTSD, etc.).
It’s important to not refuse any medical treatment offered at the scene, as this can hurt your insurance claim later on.
Gather Evidence From The Scene
You may want to be compensated for a car accident if you were injured or your vehicle was damaged. Insurance companies will need evidence that proves you were injured during the crash. Gather all the evidence you can at the scene of the accident.
Because accident scenes can be cleaned up rather quickly, you may only have a short time to collect evidence by:
- gathering contact information from witnesses or others involved in the crash
- taking pictures or videos
- documenting anything that may have contributed to what happened (road construction, distractions, reckless driving etc.)
- noting the time, date, and weather
- writing down vehicle information, including the make, model, year, license plate number, and VIN (vehicle identification number)
- drawing a diagram of the accident and noting road conditions, visibility, or other factors
Fill Out An Accident Report (If Applicable)
If a driver in an accident caused injury, death, or any property damage that could amount to at least $1,000 or more, then they’re required to file a Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Report within 10 days of the accident. You can contact the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety for more information.
Report The Car Accident To Your Insurance Company
If you have car insurance, you already likely agreed to report an accident to your insurance company if one should occur. When you set up your policy, you also likely agreed to allow your insurance company to investigate the crash. Even if no one was hurt in the accident, you must report the incident to your insurance company.
If either driver takes legal action following the crash, your insurance company will likely be contacted. If you neglect to contact your insurance company, there may be consequences.
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Minnesota’s No-Fault Insurance Law
Like many states in the U.S., Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state. No-fault insurance means that each driver uses their own insurance to cover expenses related to the crash, regardless of who caused the accident.
Under personal injury protection (PIP), no-fault insurance may cover:
- medical bills
- lost wages
- other out-of-pocket expenses associated with the crash
No-fault insurance in Minnesota does not cover pain and suffering. If there are serious injuries or car damage that resulted from the accident, it’s possible you can seek compensation from the driver who was at fault. It’s important to consult with a lawyer to consider your best option.
When You Can File A Lawsuit Against An At-Fault Driver
Because of no-fault insurance laws in Minnesota, filing a lawsuit against an at-fault driver can be tricky. You must meet certain requirements from the crash.
To try to collect damages from the at-fault driver for pain and suffering, you must have:
- had injuries that exceeded $4,000 in medical expenses
- been disabled for at least 60 days or suffered permanent disfigurement or injury from the accident
However, even if you meet these requirements, you can only hold the at-fault driver liable for the cost that wasn’t covered by your PIP requirements. Under the no-fault law, PIP covers injuries for anyone included in your auto policy.
With a personal injury lawsuit, however, you can seek compensation from the at-fault driver for pain and suffering, as well as other non-economic damages.
The Rule Of Comparative Negligence In Minnesota
Comparative negligence, or the 51 percent rule, is used to determine fault in personal injury claims. This rule means you may be eligible to collect compensation from the at-fault party, as long as your fault or blame in the accident is less than the fault of the other party.
This means that if you’re partially to blame for the accident, you may still have the option to collect damages. However, the amount of damages you receive could be adjusted because you contributed to the cause of the accident.
Minnesota’s Small Claims Court
Although Minnesota has a small claims court called “Conciliation Courts” where you can represent yourself, it’s still likely best to consult with a lawyer before you do so. To receive up to the $15,000 in damages you can collect in Conciliation Court, you must understand the laws that apply to your case.
Filing in small claims court could make sense for you if:
- the at-fault driver was uninsured
- the at-fault driver denies your claim or offers a low settlement
- the injuries you suffered were not severe, but your medical bills exceeded the no-fault limit
A lawyer at Florin|Roebig can assess your claim and see if moving forward in a small claims court is in your best interest. However, be advised. Once you file a claim in this court, you cannot file an additional claim that asks for more damages from the same incident.
Statute Of Limitations In Minnesota
For car accident claims, Minnesota uses a two-year statute of limitations. This means you must file a lawsuit or settle your insurance claim within two years of the car accident. This two-year statute of limitations applies to all personal injury and property damage claims.
Once you miss the deadline, you can no longer file a claim regarding your accident. As such, it’s important to file an insurance claim as soon as you can. If you’re not sure about details surrounding your car accident claim, it’s crucial to hire a personal injury lawyer.
How A Minnesota Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Although some property damage and minor injury car accident claims may not require a lawyer, other claims can greatly benefit from enlisting the help of a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help you collect a fair settlement from your insurance company.
For example, if your injury claim is valued to be more than your PIP coverage, then you likely need to hire a lawyer to help you negotiate a settlement with the insurance company representing the other driver.
Even if your insurance company values your claim within your PIP, you should protect yourself by contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer.
A lawyer will be invaluable to your claim by helping you:
- gather evidence
- get witness testimony
- document medical expenses
- handle insurance companies
- negotiate a fair settlement
- asses your legal options in Minnesota
When it comes to legal issues and insurance policies, you’ll want a lawyer to help represent your interest. There’s a good chance you’ll still be suffering from injuries, especially in severe cases. An experienced lawyer can help fight an insurance company’s initial offer to help you collect the most damages for your case.
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Contact The Offices Of Florin|Roebig
Florin|Roebig operates a legal office in Bloomington, Minnesota. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers can represent anyone involved in a car accident in the state of Minnesota to make sure you can collect damages for any pain and suffering you experienced.
We offer free case evaluation to help you determine your legal options. Once you start your case evaluation, one of our Minnesota lawyers will reach out to discuss the merits of your case.
To learn more about your rights following a car accident in Minnesota, or to start your free case evaluation, contact the offices of Florin|Roebig today.