It is estimated that one or more people are killed on Minnesota roadways each day due to distracted driving, intoxication, or speeding.
If you or someone in your family has been injured or killed in a car accident, you may wonder if you are entitled to compensation. After all, the impact of a car accident can be far-reaching for individuals and families.
Understanding the laws related to car accidents in Minnesota and your rights can help you know what to expect if you’ve been involved in a car accident. You can also contact our car accident attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, to find out more about your right to compensation.
Understanding Minnesota’s No-Fault Insurance Law
Minnesota is a no-fault state regarding car insurance. Many people do not know what this means. What this means is that your insurance company will typically be responsible for covering the first $20,000 you incur in medical expenses and the first $20,000 you sustain in wage loss after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. The basic idea is to speed up the claims process, ensuring that victims receive timely medical treatment and wage loss payments without waiting for a determination of fault. These benefits are provided under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP), also known as no-fault coverage, portion of your insurance policy.
When Can You Sue?
Although the no-fault law generally restricts the ability to sue the other driver, there are exceptions. You can step outside the no-fault system and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver if you meet one of five threshold requirements, such as if you have incurred more than $4,000 in medical expenses, have suffered a permanent injury, a permanent disfigurement, 60-days of disability, or have sustained a death.
Understanding Minnesota’s no-fault insurance law can be confusing, but it is an important and crucial coverage for anyone driving. If you have been involved in an accident, and don’t understand your rights or your potential claims, consult an experienced Minnesota car accident attorney for tailored advice.
One of the most immediate concerns following a car accident is medical treatment. The cost of hospital stays, surgeries, medication, and even future medical treatments can add up quickly.
As noted above, Minnesota is a no-fault state, which means your own auto insurance should cover your first $20,000 in medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, what if the medical expenses exceed the no-fault coverage? Then typically, your health insurance will need to pay for any bills moving forward. However, if you later get a recovery from the at fault driver, your health insurance company may have the right to get paid back from that recovery. This right to get paid back is known as subrogation. Subrogation can be a confusing and complex area of the law, and what rights your health insurance company may have to get paid back will depend on the type of plan and the governing law. Because of its complexity, it is always best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights.
Loss of Earnings and Earning Capacity
If you’re seriously injured, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to work for a certain period. In such instances, you can claim lost wages as compensation. Again, as noted above, typically, the first $20,000 is paid by your own no-fault insurance. However, your no-fault policy will likely only pay out a maximum of 85% of your lost wages, capped at $500 per week. For wage loss amounts that are not covered by your no-fault policy, you will need to pursue the at fault driver and their insurance company through a personal injury claim. Additionally, if the injuries result in permanent disability, you may be eligible for compensation for loss of future earning capacity. In either scenario, calculating the accurate amount can be complicated, and the expertise of a Minnesota car accident attorney can be invaluable.
Pain and Suffering
Although harder to quantify than medical bills or lost wages, pain and suffering are genuine concerns that can be addressed in your claim against any at-fault driver and their insurance company. Emotional distress, inconvenience, and the overall negative impact on your quality of life are considered under this category. The amount is usually calculated based on the injuries’ severity and long-term implications. Pain and suffering is not recoverable through your no-fault claim.
The aftermath of an auto collision in Minnesota often involves more than just physical injuries; there’s a good chance your vehicle has also sustained damage. Compensation for property damage aims to cover the costs of repairing your vehicle or the fair market value of your vehicle if it was totaled.
Minnesota law does permit punitive damages in personal injury cases, but these are rare and are generally only awarded in cases where the defendant showed deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others; or deliberately proceeds to act with indifference to the high probability of injury to the rights or safety of others. Unlike compensatory damages, which aim to make the victim whole, punitive damages are intended to punish the offender and deter similar behavior in the future.
Why You Need a Minnesota Car Accident Attorney
Expertise in Local Laws: Personal injury laws can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. A Minnesota car accident attorney will be well-versed in state-specific laws and procedures, which can significantly affect the outcome of your case.
- Negotiation Skills: Insurance companies are notorious for offering lower settlements than victims deserve. A seasoned attorney can effectively negotiate to ensure you receive fair compensation.
- Complexity of Cases: Sometimes auto collisions in Minnesota involve multiple parties or other complexities, such as uninsured or underinsured motorists. An experienced attorney can navigate these intricate situations to protect your interests.
- Peace of Mind: Perhaps most importantly, having professional assistance allows you to focus on your recovery rather than the complexity of confusing legal proceedings.
Understanding Your Right to Compensation After a Car Accident
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto collision in Minnesota, it’s crucial to consult a Minnesota car accident attorney to explore your options for compensation. From medical expenses to pain and suffering, various forms of compensation can help you recover and move forward with your life.
The law entitles you to fair compensation for your losses. However, successfully claiming this compensation often involves a maze of legal procedures and negotiations that you should not navigate alone. Engaging the services of a skilled attorney is a significant first step towards recovering what you rightfully deserve.