The following are questions that we most frequently hear from potential clients who call our office to discuss their potential personal injury claim. For other questions, call one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.
1. Who will pay for my medical bills after an accident?
Everyone who owns a vehicle in Minnesota is required to carry no-fault insurance. No-fault insurance is required to provide a minimum of $20,000 in medical coverage for your car accident related medical treatment. Sometimes, your no-fault insurance company will deny paying for your medical bills for any number of reasons. In that instance, your personal injury lawyer will have to try to force the no-fault insurance company to pay your bills through a no-fault arbitration. Once your no-fault medical benefits have been exhausted, the next priority to pay for your medical bills is your health insurance. Your health insurance will have to pay for any car accident related bills, but will then seek reimbursement from any settlement you receive from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
2. I can’t work because I was injured in an accident, who will pay my wage loss?
In addition to a minimum of $20,000 in medical coverage, your no-fault insurance coverage needs to also provide a minimum of $20,000 in income loss incurred as a result of a car accident. Wage loss is paid by your no-fault insurance company at a rate of 85% of your lost wages, capped at $500 per week. Any wage loss that is not reimbursed by your no-fault insurance company can then be claimed against the at-fault driver and their insurance company through your personal injury claim.
3. I’ve been in an accident, now what should I do?
See our Important Information page for what steps you should take after being involved in a car accident. You should also consult with an experienced, trusted personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure you understand the process, so that your rights are protected, and an appropriate investigation can be undertaken as soon as possible.
4. I can’t afford a lawyer, should I still contact one?
Yes, Nelson Personal Injury offers free consultations for all potential personal injury and accident claims. You will not be charged anything to have your case reviewed by one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. If you hire Nelson Personal Injury, you also do not pay by the hour or have to pay an upfront retainer. Nelson Personal Injury works on a contingency fee, and if there is no recovery on your behalf, there are no attorney’s fees.
5. What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is a fee paid to a lawyer only if a recovery is obtained on behalf of the client. If you are represented by one of the attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury, you will never have to pay a fee unless a recovery or settlement is obtained on your behalf. Insurance companies have highly paid attorneys on their side at all times. Hiring a lawyer on a contingency fee allows you to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your case, without having to pay anything up front, or receiving monthly bills. This levels the playing field against the insurance company and their army of lawyers.
6. Do you represent clients all over the state of Minnesota?
Even though our offices are located in the St. Cloud area, the attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury represent accident and injury victims across the entire state of Minnesota. Our attorneys are available to meet in person at our office, via videoconference, telephone conference, or in the convenience of your home. We are available for evening and weekend meetings by appointment.
7. I have been in an accident, will I get a rental car?
Always check with your own insurance company to see whether or not you have rental car coverage. If you do, your insurance company may pay a certain amount for a rental car for a certain period of time. If you do not carry rental car coverage, you may seek reimbursement for your rental car from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, subject to the limits of their coverage, and certain time and cost restrictions.
8. Who will pay for my vehicle after an accident?
If your vehicle has been damaged or destroyed in an accident, you may seek reimbursement through your own insurance company if you carry collision coverage. Any reimbursement through your own insurance company may be subject to a deductible. However, if another party was at fault for causing the accident, your insurance company may seek to collect your deductible from the at fault driver’s insurance company, and if successful, you will be reimbursed for your deductible. If you did not carry collision coverage, you will have to go through the at fault driver’s insurance company to seek reimbursement for the damage to your car, or the fair market value of the vehicle, if totaled.
9. Do I have to talk to the insurance company after an accident?
Typically, you may be required to talk to your own insurance company after an accident and cooperate with them and assist in their investigation. However, you have no such obligation to talk to the other party’s insurance company after a car accident. In fact, doing so may negatively affect your potential injury claim in the future, as insurance companies will go to great lengths to try to get you to admit things that may be against your interest. Before talking to any insurance company, it may be in your best interest to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
10. The Insurance company is offering me money to settle my injury claim after an accident, should I accept it?
You should not accept any settlement offers from any insurance company until you have consulted with an experienced personal injury attorney. Often times, people do not understand what potential claims are available to them and do not fully understand what rights they are giving up by settling. In many cases, people do not even realize that they are settling their claim when they accept money from an insurance company. Insurance companies are incentivized to settle claims as quickly, and as cheaply, as possible. Insurance adjusters are trained to try to get individuals to settle their claims as soon as possible because it is in the best interests of the insurance company. However, settling with an insurance company shortly after an accident can be a mistake if you do not know the full nature and extent of your injuries. If you have been in an accident and an insurance company is offering you money to settle, you should not sign or agree to anything and immediately contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation.
11. How much is my case worth?
One of the most common questions we receive is how much is my case worth? Any lawyer who tells you what your case is worth is usually not being honest. An experienced and honest personal injury lawyer will tell you that how much your case is worth depends on a number of factors that typically are not known at that time. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following: who was at fault for the accident, the nature and extent of the accident, the type and severity of injuries sustained in the accident, how much you have incurred in medical expenses, how much wage loss you have, whether your doctor is willing to state that your injuries are permanent, whether you are going to need future medical care, whether your injuries will affect your ability to work in the future, the amount of liability and/or uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage available. Only once these factors are known can a personal injury attorney give you an accurate assessment of the range of value of your case.
12. Do I have to bring my claim within a certain time period?
Yes, Minnesota has many statutes of limitations which operate to forever bar your claim if it is not commenced within the prescribed time period. In other words, if you do not settle your claim or start a lawsuit before the statute of limitations period expires, you will not be able to bring a claim or start a lawsuit any longer. Exactly which statute of limitations time period will apply to your case will depend on the nature of the type of claim you bring. For example, if your claim is based on negligence, your injury claim must be settled or a lawsuit started within six (6) years from the date of the incident; if your claim is for the wrongful death of a family member, the claim must be settled or a lawsuit started within three (3) years of the date of the incident. Because of this, it is important that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that they can perform an analysis of what statute of limitations may apply to your claim.
13. Do you only handle car accident claims?
No, Nelson Personal Injury handles a wide variety of injury claims other than car accidents. We have substantial experience handling dog bite claims, slip and fall claims, trip and fall claims, general negligence claims, wrongful death claims, motorcycle accident claims, truck accident claims, and many others.
14. How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take?
There are no hard and fast rules on how long it will take for your car accident case to be resolved. An experienced Minnesota Car Accident lawyer will not advise you to settle or resolve your case until it is known what the full nature and extent of your injuries are, and whether such injuries are permanent. For some injuries, such as orthopedic injuries, your doctor may want to wait upwards of one year before they will be able to give an opinion about whether or not your injuries are permanent. Other injuries, like brain injuries, may require a longer period of time before a doctor can give an opinion about the nature, extent, and permanency of an injury. Because of this, each case is analyzed given the specific facts of the case, and your lawyer will be in a better position to advise you when more facts become known.
In addition, how long a case takes will depend on whether the case is able to be settled without having to start a lawsuit. If a lawsuit needs to be started against an at fault driver, or an insurance company, it can take a year or more for the case to work its way through the court system.
15. Why Choose Nelson Personal Injury For Your Car Accident Case?
Whether your Minnesota car accident claim is large or small, at Nelson Personal Injury, we treat every client, like they are our only client. When you choose to work with us, you can be confident that your case is being handled by a competent, experienced and compassionate lawyer. Unlike some lawyers, we devote our entire practice to representing individuals who have been injured.
For more than a combined 50 years, our lawyers have been fighting for the rights of our clients. We have taken on the large insurance companies and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for those who have been injured in car accidents in Minnesota. Beyond that, we strive to provide car accident victims with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they have an experienced lawyer on their side.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, our lawyers are here to help. We know that you will have many questions about your rights and the claim process, and we always take the time to explain the process and your rights to you. Complete the form below, or call us today to see how we can help you. All consultations with our experienced attorneys are free and there is no obligation.
16. What Claims Do I Have After A Car Accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident in Minnesota, you may have two, and sometimes three potential insurance claims. These include no-fault claims, personal injury claims and “underinsured” or “uninsured” motorist claims, depending on the circumstances.
Your first claim is called a no-fault claim, which is typically made against your own insurance company. No-fault insurance is also known as “personal injury protection” coverage or “PIP”. No-fault insurance coverage is required to be carried on all cars in Minnesota by Minn. Stat. § 65B.06.
As part of your no-fault claim against your own insurance company, you will have access to $20,000 in medical expenses for treatment that is reasonable, necessary, and related to the car accident, as well as reimbursement for your mileage to and from your appointment. You will also have access to $20,000 in wage loss and replacement services that have resulted from your car accident related injuries.
For a detailed discussion of Minnesota no-fault coverage, see our no-fault web page.
Personal Injury Claims
Your second potential claim is called a personal injury or bodily injury claim. This claim is made against any at fault driver and their insurance company. Because all motorists in Minnesota are required to carry no-fault insurance to cover medical expenses, income loss and replacement services, the Minnesota legislature has limited when and how injured accident victims can bring a personal injury claim against other drivers who were negligent in causing the crash and your injuries.
In order to bring a personal injury claim, the injured victim must meet at least one of the following “so called” threshold requirements set forth in Minnesota Statute §65B.51:
- Medical treatment expenses of $4,000 or more; or
- A permanent injury; or
- Disability of 60 days or more; or
- A permanent disfigurement (scar); or
- A death as a result of their injuries.
If you have met one of the above thresholds, you can bring a personal injury claim against any negligent (at-fault) driver and their insurance company. In a personal injury claim, you may be entitled to recover the following damages:
- Past medical bills and wage loss not covered by your no-fault claim;
- Future medical expenses and income loss or loss of earning capacity; and
- Past and future pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
Underinsured Motorist Claims
Minnesota requires that all drivers carry at least $30,000 in liability insurance coverage on their vehicle. Unfortunately for those who are seriously injured in a car accident, if the at fault driver only carries $30,000 in liability coverage, it may not even cover your medical expenses. If the at fault driver does not carry enough insurance to cover all of your damages, you may have a third potential claim, called an underinsured motorist claim.
An underinsured motorist claim is claim brought against your own insurance company through the underinsured motorist portion of your policy. Underinsured motorist coverage provides an extra layer of coverage to compensate you for your damages. The amount of coverage available will depend on how much underinsured motorist coverage you purchased. In some situations, such as if you are riding in someone else’s vehicle at the time of crash, you will go to the underinsured motorist coverage on the occupied vehicle before going to your own policy.
What If The Driver Who Caused The Accident Does Not Have Insurance?
An estimated 9.9% of drivers in Minnesota fail to carry the required insurance on their vehicle. Fortunately, Minnesota law requires you to carry “uninsured motorist” coverage. This is commonly referred to as “UM” coverage. If you, or anyone in your vehicle, are injured by the negligence of an uninsured driver, you are entitled to collect from your insurance company (under your “UM” coverage), those damages which were caused by the uninsured driver, but for which they do not have insurance to pay.
One problem, however, is that in Minnesota the minimum amount of “UM” coverage required by law is $25,000. Again, the amount of coverage available will depend on how much uninsured motorist coverage you purchased.