Minneapolis Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney
Injured in a Car Accident?
Being severely injured in a car accident is devastating. Knowing where to turn when you are in pain and worried about the future can be overwhelming. Although our cars are becoming structurally safer, things like distracted driving are still playing an unfortunate role in Minnesota car crash injuries and deaths.
First Five Steps You Should Take if You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident
- Call the police, and make sure you gather the at-fault driver's information, including name, contact information, and insurance policy information
- Seek emergency medical attention
- Photograph your injuries both immediately and throughout the healing process
- Contact an experienced auto accident attorney
- Keep a journal to record your pain as you heal, so you can recall this later
You Need a Powerful Legal Voice
No one can turn back the hands of time and undo what you have been through. What you can do is have an invested team of attorneys fighting to get you the compensation you deserve.
How We Can Help You
We are trusted personal injury attorneys and have 40+ years of combined legal experience and a proven track record of representing car accident victims in Minnesota. We also help people like you with a level of personal investment that most firms cannot match. Here are 5 reasons to speak to us if you've been injured in a car crash in Minnesota:
- We listen – Our personal attention uncovers key details others miss
- We are tough – We doggedly pursue the best result and aren't afraid to take on big insurance companies
- We are experienced and trusted – We have 40+ years of combined legal expertise and a proven track record of success
- We use a team approach – We collaborate to strategize a winning solution
- We are accessible – Your attorney is always easy to reach
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the first things I should I do if I am in a car, truck or other motor vehicle accident?
If you are able, do the following immediately:
1. Get out of your vehicle to solicit help and information from the other driver.
2. Call the police immediately and ensure a report will be made regardless of the extent of damage to the automobile or the injuries to the drivers and passengers.
3. Obtain the name of the other driver(s), passengers and witnesses.
4. Obtain the information of the other driver's insurance information, home address, and phone number(s).
5. Seek medical treatment immediately.
6. Call your insurance company to inform them of your accident. They will provide you with an adjuster assigned to your case and a claim number which can be used for billing of medical expenses. If you are injured in an auto/truck crash, you should have your medical treatment billed to your no-fault automobile insurance rather than your health insurance. If your bills exceed $20,000, then have your medical treatment billed to your health insurance.
7. Contact an attorney to ensure your right to recovery is protected.
What are the possible insurance claims a victim has following an automobile or truck accident?
There are five insurance claims involved in an automobile or truck accident:
1. No-fault medical and wage loss claims.
2. Bodily injury claim.
3. Vehicle repair or replacement claims.
4. Uninsured motorist claims.
5. Underinsured motorist claims.
What is a no-fault claim?
Prior to 1974, people injured in automobile accidents were paid for their medical bills and their wage loss only when their case was resolved, which often took several years. Since many of the automobile crash injury victims were unable to work due to their injuries, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Minnesota No-Fault Act in 1974 in order to provide more timely benefits. [Minnesota Statutes 65B.41-65B.71]
The Act provides that persons suffering injuries "arising out of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle," regardless of their fault or innocence, could quickly and easily recover "economic loss" benefits from their own insurance company. No-fault insurance provides for payment of up to $20,000 in reasonable and necessary medical expenses and up to $20,000 in wage loss and replacement services. No-fault medical/wage loss benefits coverage is used for passengers, pedestrians, and drivers who are or are not at fault in an accident.
Click the links below for more information regarding specific no-fault claims.
1. No-Fault Medical Expense Benefit.
2. No-Fault Wage Loss Benefits.
3. No-Fault Replacement Services Benefits.
4. No-Fault Survivor's Benefits.
5. No-Fault Termination of Benefits.
Who will cover my medical expenses after my car accident?
How much money is available from my no fault insurance to cover my medical expenses?
The amount of coverage you have for medical expenses in the event of an automobile crash depends on the amount of coverage you carry through your insurance policy. Minnesota Statues 65B.44 allows up to $20,000 to be paid to you for your no fault medical expenses from you own auto insurance policy as a result of a car accident.
Where can I obtain treatment?
Once you have called in your claim to your own automobile insurance company you will be assigned a no-fault adjuster, and you will be given a claim number that you may use for your treatment at any medical office or hospital. You are not required to use a specific provider or clinic. You will not be using your personal health insurance unless you have no automobile insurance coverage or your No-fault Expenses have been used up or cut off.
What does it mean that No-Fault covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses?
Minnesota law requires that no-fault automobile insurance pay for medical expenses that are reasonable and necessary such as: medical, surgical, x-ray, optical, dental, chiropractic and rehabilitative services, prosthetic devices, prescription drugs, necessary ambulance and all other reasonable transportation expenses incurred in traveling to receive covered medical benefits, hospital, extended care and nursing services. Also included are physical rehabilitation treatment and occupational training. All of the above care and treatment must be for injuries resulting from the motor vehicle accident. [Minnesota Statutes 65B.44]
Can I also be compensated for mileage and parking expenses incurred when I go to my medical treatment?
Minnesota law requires that mileage to and from treatments and parking costs must be reimbursed as "reasonable transportation costs." These are actual costs to claimant and most often are paid at the IRS rate of 53.5 cents per mile (2017), unless you can document higher costs that are reasonable. You are also entitled to reimbursement for the work hours you miss when you have to attend medical, physical therapy or other medically related appointments. The medical treatment must relate to your accident.
What if I need occupational therapy and/or rehabilitation?
You must provide notice to the insurance carrier within sixty days of incurring $1,000 or more of rehabilitation expenses, or the available benefits may be limited to $1,000. In addition, an insurance company may pay for a vocational program only in order to save wage loss payments. If you can no longer work at a heaving lifting job, an insurance company may pay for vocational training or occupational training in order to get the person back working at a different job. It is important for you to see a medical doctor of your choosing as soon after the accident as possible. Although treatment with a Chiropractor is useful and can assist you greatly with healing, especially with soft-tissue back and neck injuries, we have found that insurance companies are more likely to pay fair compensation for a claim if the injured person has also treated with a medical doctor.
Who should be in charge of my medical care?
Always let your medical doctor direct your care. Follow your doctor's orders and ask your doctor's opinion about the need for chiropractic treatment or physical therapy. Return to your doctor periodically during healing so that your doctor is informed about your injuries and will be able to write a letter for you later as to the extent of your injuries. Chiropractic treatment should be balanced with medical treatment. And both forms of treatment should be covered under your no fault insurance.
Will No Fault Insurance cover my lost wages?
NO FAULT INSURANCE WILL COVER LOST WAGES:
You are entitled to up to $20,000 in lost income replacement through your no-fault insurance. [Minnesota Statutes 65B.44] However, no-fault will pay only 85% of your gross income up to a maximum of $500 per week. You may be able to make up any shortfall later on through your bodily injury claim against the at-fault driver.
For example: If you make $200 per week you will receive only 85% of $200 which is $170. This is the maximum your no-fault insurance will pay based on $200 per week. Therefore, you will lose $30 per week. Later on you may be able to sue the at fault driver for this $30 per week shortfall. However, if you make a $1,000 per week, the maximum you will receive is $500 per week.
What do I have to do in order to receive wage loss benefits through no-fault?
1. You must present a doctor's disability slip to your no-fault adjuster (permission to miss work for medical reasons), AND
2. Proof of wage loss must be provided by your employer (your no-fault adjuster will ask you to sign authorizations and will obtain that information directly from your employer). Be sure to pay close attention to your wage rate and if you have qualified for a pay raise since your injury. Since your wage loss will be calculated based on what you were making for a period of time prior to the crash, you will want to pay close attention to the wage rate that your no-fault insurer is using and confirm that it is accurate. If you can document that a new, higher wage rate has gone into effect for you, or that you had a history of accepting all overtime work and overtime work is now available, it could affect the calculation.
Am I able to receive wage loss benefits if I am only able to return to work part-time?
If you are only able to return to your full-time job on a part-time basis, you may be entitled to continue to receive partial benefits if your disability prohibits full-time return to work. If you receive short-term or long-term disability coverage you may still be able to qualify for additional compensation for your wage loss shortfall through no-fault. Depending on the language in your automobile insurance policy, you may be entitled to additional wage loss compensation through your no-fault insurance. Consult your no-fault adjuster or your attorney to determine if you qualify.
If I was receiving unemployment benefits at the time of the accident, but because of the accident I am no longer eligible to receive those benefits, can I receive compensation through no-fault?
You are eligible to receive no-fault wage loss at 100% of your previous unemployment rate, with a maximum benefit of $500 per week.
If I own a small business and have had to hire substitute employees, will I be compensated for this expense?
Costs incurred for substitute employees to perform tasks which are necessary to maintain the income of the injured person and which are normally performed by the injured person, but cannot be performed because of the injury, may be reimbursed up to $500 per week.
Will I get paid for the time I had to miss work because I had to go to a doctor or other accident-related treatment?
You may also be entitled to reimbursement for reasonable travel time and expenses involved in getting to and from the medical treatment. Ask your attorney or your no-fault adjuster. Keep a travel journal in order to track your time and mileage related to your medical treatment.
What kind of financial help can I get if my loved one was killed in a car crash?
If your loved one has died as a result of a crash that was the fault of another driver, you have an immediate right to sue to the at-fault driver and are entitled to no-fault survivor benefits to begin compensating you and your family for your loss.
No-fault coverage provides coverage for funeral expenses:
The Minnesota No-Fault Act provides for up to $5,000 for funeral expense coverage to include such items as casket, burial, flowers and an organist.
No-fault provides wage loss benefits:
No-fault wage loss benefits may provide compensation to your family for the loss of an individual who was an economic provider for your household. If your deceased loved one was an economic provider for your family, your family may receive up to $500 per week for a maximum of $20,000 in survivor's no-fault wage loss benefits. Other contributions of money or economic value (not including services) the surviving dependents would have received from the decedent are also reimbursable to the surviving family members through no-fault benefits. Also included in the category of economic value are the following tangible items: insurance benefits, disability coverage, pension and Keogh plan, proceeds of household business such as crafts or day care, routine household services, and expenses for wages to compensate a replacement worker for running a business.
Can No-fault insurance stop paying me?
YOUR NO FAULT INSURANCE CAN TERMINATE YOUR NO-FAULT BENEFITS:
The following are a number of reasons why your no-fault benefits may be terminated:
1. You have experienced similar complaints and injuries prior to the accident.
2. Your early symptoms are inconsistent with later treatment.
3. The medical records document that your symptoms have greatly improved.
4. You fail to follow medical recommendations for follow-up visits, self-care, exercise, etc.
5. You have long periods where you have not treated with a medical doctor or physical therapist or chiropractor.
6. You have a lack of objective findings. In other words, you have no way to prove the extent of your injuries through your medical records and are relying solely on your own testimony.
7. You go to a doctor for health care unrelated to your accident and the medical records from that visit document that the "affected areas" (those injuries caused by the accident) are normal.
8. You failed to report your injuries immediately after your crash or received no treatment for several weeks or months after the accident.
9. After 9 months to a year, you have experienced no improvement with medical care. If this is the case, the insurer will likely terminate the benefits because they will argue that the treatments are not beneficial or that you have reached "maximum medical improvement."
10. You have had unusual treatment techniques, or unusually expensive or extensive treatment techniques.
11. Your medical professional over-treats you, such as recommending treatments 3-5 times per week.
12. You have not treated for over one year.
Your no-fault insurer can usually cut you off from benefits if you there is a one-year lapse in treatment or disability.
WHEN IS TERMINATION ALLOWED BY LAW?
Termination is allowed when the insurer can show that the policy contains a one-year lapse provision and there was a one-year lapse in the treatment or disability. The no-fault insurer must notify you in writing sixty (60) days before the one-year lapse. It is important to have a yearly checkup to monitor your condition.
WHAT IS AN IME?
After providing no-fault benefits for a period of time, the insurer can demand that the injured person attend an IME. This "independent" medical examination is always paid for by the no-fault insurer with the goal of cutting off the injured person's no-fault benefits. By law you are required to attend an IME, if requested.
ARBITRATION IS THE ONLY METHOD FOR CONTESTING A TERMINATION OF NO-FAULT BENEFITS:
If your benefits are terminated, you may have the right to file a claim for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association.
At the time the arbitration is filed, the unpaid benefits must total less than $10,000. Your attorney will assist you with arbitration. If the unpaid amount is over $10,000, your attorney can file a lawsuit against your no-fault insurance company. If your no-fault benefits are cut off, you must use your private health insurance for the payment of your medical bills related to the crash. It remains important that you continue treating your injuries if you are still suffering symptoms in order to prove up your claim for bodily injury against the at-fault driver.
What is no-fault stacking coverage and should I make sure I have it?
If you have more than one automobile we strongly recommend that you purchase "stacking" insurance coverage. You can purchase stacking coverage for a nominal fee, and doing so will double the amount of no-fault coverage you can collect from your insurance in the event of an accident. This is especially beneficial for drivers who do not have medical insurance, because it provides affordable extra protection in the event of severe injury from a major crash. Stacking only applies to your no-fault coverage and does not apply to your liability, uninsured, or underinsured coverage.
What types of crashes are not covered under the no-fault act?
The no-fault act does NOT cover the following: [Minnesota Statutes 65B.59, 60]
1. Injuries suffered while riding, mounting or alighting from a motorcycle. (Motorcycle owners have to buy specific motorcycle no-fault insurance coverage.) If you own a motorcycle we strongly recommend that you purchase no-fault coverage to ensure that you are protected if you are injured.
2. Intentional injuries (unless the injuries are not intended by the victim).
3. Injuries suffered in the course of an official racing contest.
Vehicle owners who are not insured.
There is no requirement that insurance companies provide no-fault coverage on motorcycle policies. You need to talk with your insurance agent about adding no-fault coverage to your motorcycle policy if you wish to be covered.
What is a bodily injury claim?
This is insurance that requires "fault" to be found. If you are in an accident and it is not your fault, or a loved one has been injured or killed by someone else's careless driving, you have a right to make a claim against that driver's liability insurance. Before you are allowed to make that claim, you must meet one of five thresholds. A bodily injury claim is filed against the insurance company of the driver found to be at fault, or negligent, in the accident or against the at fault driver individually. These claims cover any injured party, including the at-fault driver's passengers, pedestrians, or occupants of another vehicle involved in the crash.
In Minnesota, all drivers must buy liability insurance of at least $30,000 for injuries to one person and $60,000 for injuries to two or more people and $10,000 for property damage. Injured parties can be reimbursed for the expenses incurred from the liability insurance and or the at-fault driver's assets including past and future medical bills and lost wages; permanent injury; and past/future pain and suffering.
Often, bodily injury claims are settled out of court, but other times they are brought before a jury. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Lord + Heinlein have helped thousands of clients get settlements they deserve, and to get their lives back on track.
What are “tort thresholds” and why must my claim reach them before I can sue the at-fault driver?
The Minnesota Legislature created "tort thresholds" when it created the laws for automobile accident claims. To ensure that only serious injuries access the legal system, Minn. Stat. 65B.51 requires that before a victim (or their survivors) can sue the at-fault driver, they must meet one of the following requirements:
1. Over $4,000 in medical expenses; OR
2. Suffered a permanent injury. A permanent injury is one that will continue throughout the victim's life, but it might improve or worsen; OR
3. Suffered from a permanent disfigurement, which injures the victim's appearance to a significant degree; OR
4. Suffered from a disability for more than 60 days. A doctor has to confirm that the victim's injuries have significantly impacted the victim's work, home, or social activities; OR
5. Died as a result of the accident.
What is the value of my bodily injury (“liability”) claim?
How is my personal injury claim valued?
Establishing the value of a personal injury claim is similar to establishing the value of a home for sale. In the real estate business, agents keep track of similar sales in various areas. Lawyers and insurance companies also keep track of similar trial verdicts and settlements that are accessed and compared to the injuries of each client. The value cannot be established on the day of the injury, but rather once the injured person has finished treating and reached "maximum medical improvement."
There are many issues to be considered once the claimant heals such as the total past and future loss of wages, cost of medical expenses, pain and suffering. Most importantly, since the medical record is relied on as proof on injuries and damages, it is important that you treat any injuries that you sustained in the accident immediately, and follow the treatment directives of your medical provider
There are a number of factors that go into determining the value of your case. First, it is important to understand the risks of going to trial vs. settling your claim out of court.
Should I settle or go to trial?
Once your case is ready for settlement or litigation, you can proceed to resolve your case through a settlement or, if settlement is unsuccessful, through trial. The attorney may choose to send a letter to the defendant and/or the insurance adjuster making a demand for a payment of a particular amount of money to resolve the claim. If negotiations for settlement prove unsuccessful, the attorney and the client will discuss the client's options and will make a decision to either accept the final offer or put the case into suit and go to trial.
How does my attorney start my lawsuit?
Litigation begins when the attorney serves a summons and complaint on the defendant. Then, the defendant will answer. Once the discovery phase of the case is completed, your case will likely proceed to mediation and at that time have another opportunity to settle the case before trial begins. If mediation is not successful, we proceed to trial.
What are the factors that should be evaluated to help decide whether or not to take my case to trial?
1) How would a jury decide?
The insurance companies win the majority of personal injury trials in Minnesota. Juries tend to find for the defendant between 55-60% of the time. So, in deciding whether to go to trial, it is important to be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of your case not only from a legal perspective, but from the perspective of the average juror as well.
2) How much insurance coverage is available?
In almost all cases, you can recover only up to the amount of the liability coverage carried by the person who caused your injury. If you go to trial and the jury awards you, for example, $50,000 but the defendant has only $30,000 in liability coverage, you can only recover the $30,000 that is available on that policy. An injured party can successfully sue for the defendant's assets only if the defendant has assets other than a home (primary residence). And, even if you are able to obtain a judgment against the at-fault defendant's personal assets, collecting on that judgment also poses its own set of difficulties since the court will not do that for you.
In the above example, you may also make a claim for underinsured benefits on your own policy to cover the $20,000 shortfall.
3) How strong are your legal arguments for liability/negligence:
Your attorney will be able to educate you on the strength of the legal arguments for your case. One of the way to determine the strength of your case is to answer the questions that a jury my answer at the end of the trial. After the trial is completed the jury is brought into the jury room where they are given the following series of questions to answer:
• Was the defendant negligent (at fault for the accident)?
Being a member of society requires that we all act, drive, and maintain our vehicle in a responsible way. The jury must consider whether the defendant (at fault driver) breached his/her duty of acting responsibly to his/her fellow citizens. Driving through a red light is clearly a breach of that duty, hence negligence. A questionable case is when a driver rear-ends the car in front of him/her because the driver in front of them made a very sudden stop. It would appear that that driver had no choice.
• Was the plaintiff (you) in any way at fault or partially responsible for the accident?
This concept is known as comparative fault. In Minnesota, a jury is asked to determine percentages of fault. For example, if they determine that the plaintiff has some degree of fault such as 15% and Defendant has 85%, the Judge is then required to deduct the 15% of Plaintiff's fault from the total award. However, if the jury attributes the plaintiff with 51% or more of the fault, the plaintiff loses the entire case and must pay the defendant's costs and expenses of having to go to trial.
• Was the defendant's negligence what caused harm to plaintiff (you)?
The jury must then decide whether the defendant's negligence (driving through a red light and hitting your vehicle) was the cause of plaintiff's injuries such as a broken arm.
• What is the severity of the damage sustained by the plaintiff (you)?:
1. Past and future medical treatment costs; the jury must consider past medical treatment expenses and if a doctor can document that you will need future medical treatment and can prove the cost of that treatment, those costs will be considered as part of your damages.
2. Past and future pain and suffering; pain and suffering is a subjective consideration of the injured person's claim that a jury will address.
3. Past and future lost wages; if you have missed a lot of time from work as a direct result of the injury, the loss of wages, both in the past and in the future will be considered in the value of your claim.
4) Trial is a very lengthy process and can be very stressful for some plaintiffs and their families.. If you take your case to trial you will need to go through the long and arduous process of litigation. You will need to have your deposition testimony taken before trial, and, at trial, you will need to testify on the witness stand. The defendant will do everything they can to discredit you and your testimony, which can be very difficult and stressful.
Are there laws in Minnesota that discourage plaintiffs from going to trial?
There can be a number of adverse consequences for plaintiffs that choose not to settle their case and take it to trial instead, even if they "win" at trial. The Minnesota legislature has devised several ways to prevent a plaintiff from bringing a frivolous lawsuit. These series of laws are known as tort reform laws. Plaintiffs in Minnesota have some of the most severe consequences of any state if they lose at trial and these tort reform laws act as effective deterrents to bringing unworthy claims.
The following are rules that must be considered before deciding to go to trial:
• Collateral Source Rule:
Minnesota law requires the Judge to deduct from the jury verdict award all of the collateral source payments (all other sources of benefits that have been contributed to your care as a result of this accident). Collateral source payments consist of the following:
1. All no-fault benefits received;
2. All contributions made by your health or dental insurance to pay for your medical care;
3. Worker's compensation payments your received for your injuries if the incident occurred at work;
4. Disability payments not directly purchased by you. 5..Your health insurance has a right of subrogation (to be reimbursed for the money they paid for your care).:
If your health insurer has covered any of your medical expenses as a result of this accident, the law allows them to be reimbursed in full unless they fall into an exception. The exception is found in Minn. Stat. 62A.095, Subd. 2(1), which provides that a subrogated medical provider cannot receive reimbursement until the covered person has received "full recovery." If you have received 'full recovery' by law, such reimbursement must be paid out of your share of the recovery.
• Rule 68 Offer of Judgment:
Sometimes the plaintiff can lose at trial even if he/she wins at trial. By law, before trial begins, the defendants can make a formal written Offer of Judgment (final settlement offer) to the plaintiff, pursuant to Civil Procedure Rule 68 in order to settle the case. The plaintiff can refuse to accept the Offer Of Judgment and choose to go to trial. However, in order to win her/his case, the plaintiff must net a total award (after comparative fault and collateral source deductions mentioned above) greater than that Offer of Judgment to win their case.
For example, if the plaintiff wins at trial but the jury award, after the deductions for comparative fault and the other collateral sources, results in an amount less than the Offer of Judgment made to the plaintiff, the plaintiff will collect nothing and, in fact, be forced to pay to the defendant all of his/her costs and expenses to try the case.
Would you please give me an example of winning at trial but losing because of a Rule 68 Offer Of Judgment?
1. $10,000 Offer of Judgment (Made by Defendant Prior To Trial)Would you please give me an example of an Offer of Judgment?:
$9,500 Jury Award. The jury award is $500 less than Offer of Judgment. As a consequence, according to the rule, the plaintiff has lost the trial and will have to pay defendant's costs and expenses.
What do I owe if I lose at trial?
When plaintiffs lose at trial they must pay all the defendant's costs and expenses (case expenses). When plaintiffs lose a personal injury case against an insured defendant, the insurance companies routinely obtain such a judgment against the plaintiff for the insurance company's costs and expenses of the case regardless of the plaintiff's financial situation. In addition, if the plaintiff loses at trial, he/she, depending on the agreement with their attorney, may also have to pay their own case costs/expenses incurred during the litigation. Case expenses and costs go up drastically once the decision is made to go trial. For instance, you will need to retain an expert to testify on your behalf, which often costs as much as $3,000 or more.
How can I decide whether to settle or go to trial?
Below are some sample calculations to illustrate a plaintiff's take home award with settlement vs. trial:
Needless to say, going to trial with these severe consequences for losing should make all plaintiffs carefully consider the advantages of settlement. The following sample calculations have been put together to show the difference between what a plaintiff can expect to get at trial versus what he/she may take home in the case of settlement.
Assume the following facts:
1. Liability insurance limit (defendant's total insurance coverage) is $30,000.
2. Liability insurance adjuster has offered $15,000 to settle your case.
3. Plaintiff (you) will be found 5% of fault by a jury.
4. Plaintiff (you) has been paid some collateral sources, as follows:. Collateral Sources have been paid such as the following:.
1. Health insurance paid – $1,200
2. Work Comp/Disability payments paid – $ 1,000
3. No-fault benefits paid – $ 5,000
4. Total Collateral Sources paid- $ 7,200
5. Consider the amount of the case expenses that are owing
1. Case expenses before trial starts – $ 800 and after trial they are $5,000
6. Imagine that if you go to trial you will obtain a jury verdict o $30,000.
7. What are the deductions that will be taken from my jury verdict award?
1. 5% Comparative Fault – $1,500
2. All Collateral Sources Deducted – $7,200
3. Attorney's Fees of 1/3 of the $30,000 verdict -$10,000
4. Case Expenses -$5,000
5. Total Deductions – $23,700
6. THE NET AWARD TO PLAINTIFF (YOU) IS $6,300
8. What are the deductions that will be taken if I accept a settlement offer of $15,000?
1. Attorney's Fees of 1/3 of the settlement of $15,000 – $5,000
2. Health Insurance To Be Paid Back (Subrogation) – $1,200
3. Worker's Comp Payments – $1,000
4. Case Expenses -$800
5. Total Deductions – $8,000
6. THE NET TO PLAINTIFF (YOU) IS: $7,000
In the case of settlement, plaintiff does not have to deduct any collateral sources or percentage of fault from the settlement. However, health insurance payments and worker's comp payments must still be reimbursed so they are deducted anyway. Plaintiff receives a net award almost as much as he/she would at trial without the risks and without the 5% deduction of comparative fault or the deduction for no-fault benefits of $5,000.
While there are circumstances where trial is appropriate, it is important to fully understand the reality of the risks associated with trial in order to best weigh whether or not it is the best course of action for you, your family and the outcome of your claim. Your attorney will explain these risks in greater detail as they relate to your specific case.
Will I be able to be compensated if the at-fault driver has no or a very low amount of auto insurance?
If an uninsured driver injures you, your own insurance provides coverage for your bodily injury damages (such as pain and suffering and permanent injury) through the uninsured motorist coverage portion of your own automobile insurance policy. Similarly, if the at-fault driver's insurance policy does not provide adequate coverage to compensate you adequately for your injuries, you can be compensated through your own underinsured motorist coverage to make up the shortfall.
The required minimum amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage you must have under Minnesota law is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per crash, but we strongly recommend you buy at least $100,000 to $300,000, if not more, in uninsured motorist insurance. Increasing this coverage is relatively inexpensive and it ensures that you and your family are protected if an uninsured motorist injures you.
After an accident, who pays for repairs to my vehicle?
Who pays for your automobile damage depends on the type of coverage you have and who was at fault in the crash.
1. If you have collision coverage in your automobile insurance policy, your insurance company may pay the entire bill minus your deductible. If the crash was not your fault, your insurer will seek repayment from the at-fault driver's insurer. The at-fault driver's insurer should also reimburse you for payment of your deductible.
2. If the other driver is at fault, his or her insurance company must pay for your vehicle damage promptly, including any deductible, even if you don't carry collision insurance.
3. If you have collision coverage and you were partially at fault, each insurance company must pay a fair percentage equaling each driver's fault.
If my automobile is repairable what obligation does the insurance company have to make repairs?
According to Minnesota Statute 72A.201 subdivision 6, if the insured (you) is NOT an automobile dealer, the insurer must assume the following:
1. Pay all costs for the satisfactory repair of the motor vehicle;
2. Satisfactory repair includes repair of both obvious and hidden damage as caused by the crash;
3. Include reasonable towing costs; and
Offer a cash settlement sufficient to pay for satisfactory repair of the vehicle.
How is the value of my car determined?
Contrary to popular belief, your car is not valued at the "Blue Book" rate. Blue Book rates are used mainly for auto dealers and banks to determine "retail value" and "loan value" which are inflated for purposes of profit. Insurance companies evaluate your vehicle based on the "market value" rate, which means "what the average consumer would pay for the same vehicle." Your vehicle is rated based on the following:
4. Condition (excellent, good, fair, or poor)
What if my vehicle is a total loss?
If your vehicle is "totaled" this means one of two things:
1. The cost of repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle; or
2. The vehicle is demolished beyond repair and the only option is to replace it.
Under these circumstances the insurance company will make you an offer for your vehicle. Once you have accepted their offer, you will need to do the following:
1. Sign the title over to the insurance company and deliver it to them.
2. If there is a bank loan, the bank will inform you of the final payoff and you will need to pay it.
Turn in the rental vehicle. (You can usually get a couple of days to get your affairs in order, but you cannot procrastinate, or you will be responsible for any additional charges on a rental vehicle.)
What happens if my car is totaled and I owe more on my car loan than the insurance company will pay me?
Unfortunately, vehicles depreciate very quickly and you may not always get what you believe your vehicle is worth. It is sometimes difficult to negotiate with the insurer for a higher settlement for your vehicle. Occasionally, you end up "upside down" concerning your vehicle, which means your loan exceeds what the vehicle is worth.
You then owe the bank the difference, despite the fact that your vehicle is totaled. In that situation most banks are usually willing to work with you on the remaining balance. You can protect yourself from this by carrying GAP insurance on your vehicle.
What steps must the insurance company take in covering the cost of my totaled vehicle?
According to Minnesota Statute 72A.201 subdivision 6, if the automobile insurance policy provides for the adjustment and settlement of an automobile "total loss" on the basis of actual cash value or replacement with "like kind" and quality, then the insurance company must offer a comparable and available replacement automobile or a cash settlement based upon the actual cost of purchase of a comparable automobile.
If a comparable automobile is not available in the local market area, the insurance company must obtain one or two or more quotations obtained from two or more qualified sources located within the local market area. The insured (you) should be provided the information contained in all price quotes prior to settlement.
If I put a lot of money into repairing the vehicle before the accident, will I get reimbursement?
You will not be reimbursed for "normal" maintenance. For example, if you had recently replaced the brakes, that would probably just be considered "normal" maintenance. However, if you paid for a repair or modification that significantly improved the value of the automobile, it may be reimbursable to you. You must provide documentation for any modification you have made. For example, if you had recently replaced the engine or transmission or tires, you must provide the insurer with the receipts for the parts and labor. Without that documentation, there is no way to substantiate that your vehicle was repaired at a cost to you.
Will the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay my deductible for property damage to my vehicle?
If your own insurance company pays for the repair of your vehicle, you will be responsible for paying your deductible up front. The negligent party's insurance company should eventually reimburse you for your out-of-pocket deductible.
If my automobile is considered a total loss, will I be reimbursed for any of the fees I have paid the state for the ownership of my car?
Yes. According to Minnesota Statute 72A.201 subdivision 6, the insurance company that pays for the loss must also pay the following:
1. All applicable taxes;
2. Licenses fees, at least pro-rata, for the unexpired term of the replaced automobile's license;
Other fees paid incident to the transfer or evidence of ownership of the automobile, at no cost to the insured other than the deductible amount as provided in the policy.
What if some of my personal property was damaged in the crash?
Unless you or the at fault driver have personal property protection in your insurance policy, you will not be reimbursed for personal objects damaged inside your car as a result of the crash.
Will I get a rental car while mine is being repaired?
If you carry rental coverage on your own insurance policy, your rental expenses will be covered. If you do not carry rental coverage, you are entitled to a rental car from the other driver's automobile insurance, assuming they have insurance and were at fault in the accident. Most insurance companies deal directly with the rental agency so you need not worry about paying "up front" fees for your car rental after an accident.
Under some circumstances, you will have to pay for the rental vehicle and then seek reimbursement from the other person's liability carrier. Again, this is determined by who is at fault. Once your vehicle is repaired, the rental vehicle must be turned back into the rental agency immediately or you will be responsible for any additional charges.
If my car is considered a total loss, will I be reimbursed for any of the fees I have paid the state for the ownership of my car?
Yes. According to Minnesota Statute 72A.201 subdivision 6 the insurance company that pays for the loss must also pay the following:
1. All applicable taxes.
2. Licenses fees-at least pro-rata for the unexpired term of the replaced automobile's license.
3. Other fees paid incident to the transfer or evidence of ownership of the automobile, at no cost to the insured other than the deductible amount as provided in the policy.
What if the insurance company refuses to pay me for the damage to my automobile?
The State of Minnesota has established several rules for insurance companies to follow when it comes to dealing with automobile and truck insurance payments.
If you feel that an insurance company is dealing you with unfairly, you should contact an attorney.
What if my car is damaged, but no one was harmed?
Minnesota law does not require comprehensive insurance and collision insurance coverage. If you have comprehensive insurance, you may be covered for auto damage that results from incidents other than typical accidents. For example, you may be able to recover from your insurance company in the event your car is stolen, vandalized, damaged in a flood or fire, or by animals. Coverage is limited by the terms of your insurance contract with the insurance company. Your lender/financing company often requires this type of insurance if you have a loan or a lease on your motor vehicle.
If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident and noone was injured, you may be able to have the damage covered by the at-fault driver's insurance policy. Often you do not need an attorney to assist you with a property damage claim where there is no personal injury present.