Car accidents are a common occurrence in Minnesota. In fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in 2021 alone – a year when many people were still staying home due to COVID – there were 63,751 traffic crashes. Of those accidents, 24,083 people were injured and 488 people died. It is important for those involved in a passenger car accident to understand their rights and what claims they may have if they have been injured due to another driver’s negligence.
Determining Liability in a Car Accident
In order to recover your damages (such as medical expenses, wage loss, and pain and suffering) against the other driver involved in the crash, you must prove that the other driver was 50% or more at fault for causing the crash. In order to prove fault, you must generally show that the other driver was negligent in the operation of their vehicle. Negligence is when one party fails to exercise reasonable care or act responsibly, resulting in harm or injury to another person.
It is important to note, however, that some states, such as Minnesota, have adopted no-fault systems which can operate to limit an individual’s ability to bring a claim against or sue another driver after an accident. Generally, after an accident, regardless of fault, you will be able bring a no-fault claim against your own insurance company, who will provide benefits such as medical expenses, wage loss, and replacement services. If certain statutory threshold requirements are met (death, permanent injury, a scar or disfigurement, 60 days disability, or greater than $4,000 in medical expenses), you may also be able to bring a personal injury or bodily injury claim against the at fault driver and their insurance company to recover your damages.
Who to Sue in a Car Accident in Minnesota
When it comes to car accidents in Minnesota, there are generally two parties that may be responsible for your damages after an accident:
- The At-Fault Driver – If another driver caused your injuries due to negligence or recklessness behind the wheel (such as speeding, running a red light, or failure to keep a proper look out or their vehicle under control), then you may have grounds to sue them directly for any additional damages not covered by your own insurance company through your no-fault claim. To do this successfully, you must prove that the other driver was negligent and caused your injury through their actions on the road.
- The Vehicle Owner – Even if someone else was driving the vehicle during an accident, you may still be able to hold its owner liable under certain circumstances, such as if they permitted the person to use their vehicle. Additionally, businesses and corporations that deploy taxis, delivery trucks, and other commercial vehicles can also be held liable when their employees cause an accident.
The Role of Insurance in a Car Accident in Minnesota
The role of insurance companies should also not be overlooked when considering who might be held accountable after a passenger car accident in Minnesota. It is important to understand how much coverage each party has before filing a lawsuit against them since this will determine how much compensation you can receive from them if successful with your claim.
In Minnesota, all drivers must carry minimum insurance coverages on their vehicle, including liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage. This type of insurance pays for damages caused by the driver who is at fault for the accident.
The following are additional types of insurance coverage that may apply and come into play after a car accident:
- No-Fault or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance provides compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and replacement services incurred as a result of an auto-related injury, regardless of who was at fault.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage helps pay for damages when the at fault driver either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to compensate your for your damages that you have sustained as a result of the accident Uninsured motorist coverage also protects against hit-and-run drivers as well.
It is important to note that some policies may include additional provisions such as rental car reimbursement and roadside assistance, which can be helpful should you find yourself stranded after being involved in a motor vehicle collision.
It is always best practice to review and understand your own insurance policies so that you are aware of the kind of protection you have available should something happen.
Considerations When Filing a Lawsuit for a Car Accident in Minnesota
When filing a lawsuit for a car accident in Minnesota, there are several important considerations to keep in mind.
The first is the statute of limitations. In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for claims based on negligence is six years from the date of the accident. What this means is that you must start a lawsuit or settle your claim within six years of the date of the accident, or your claim will be forever barred. Be mindful of this timeline so that you don’t miss your opportunity to recover your damages.
The second consideration is gathering and preserving evidence related to your case. This includes taking photos from the scene of the accident, obtaining police reports, collecting the names and statements of any witnesses, and seeking appropriate medical care to create medical records related to any injuries sustained from the crash. Having strong evidence can help strengthen your case with the insurance company and be crucial if it goes before a jury or judge at a later date.
Finally, it’s important to hire an experienced who understands Minnesota law and has experience with cases similar to yours. An attorney can provide invaluable advice throughout each step of your case while helping you navigate through complicated legal proceedings such as settlement negotiations or court hearings should they become necessary down the road.
The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, and it is important to understand Minnesota’s laws regarding liability and insurance coverage prior to filing a lawsuit. If you have been injured in a passenger car accident in Minnesota, it’s wise to seek legal counsel from an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact Nelson Personal Injury LLC. We specialize in personal injury cases and can provide experienced legal representation for those who have sustained an injury from car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace injuries, slip & falls and more. Our team is dedicated to fighting for your rights and helping you get the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to discuss the details surrounding your accident – and case.