ST. PAUL CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
Car accidents can have devastating consequences for those involved.Dealing with recovering from serious injuries while trying to figure outmedical bills, wage loss, and a buying a new car can be overwhelming for individuals and families. It is important to know what rights you have as someone injured in a car crash. Hiring an experienced St. Paul car accident attorney will help you focus on healing and getting back to work and not on dealing with insurance calls and paperwork.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A MINNESOTA CAR ACCIDENT?
If you are not at fault for the car crash, it is important to collect as much information as possible. Here are some things you or your attorney can do to help right away:
- Call the police: start by calling the police and making sure a report is filed. Sometimes the police will not do a report if no one is going to the hospital, but it is important to request that they come out and document what is said. Unfortunately, some people who cause motor vehicle accidents will admit fault at the scene but later will deny fault to their insurance company. Even if eventually gets worked out, this can cause significant delays and frustration in getting paid for damage to your car.
- Take photos: make sure to document the damage at the scene. That includes not just your car, but also the damage to the car of the person who caused the car accident. These pictures can help in two ways. First, they can help prove how a crash happened. Second, they can help with fighting insurance companies that are arguing a person could not have been injured. Getting photos of every car will give appropriate context and can help a lot more than just having photos of one car.
- Get witness information: witnesses can make or break whether you are able to prove whose fault the crash is. Do not rely on the police to obtain a witness’s contact information. If you know someone saw what happened, make sure to get that person’s information before they leave the scene.
- Look for traffic videos or business videos: many intersections now have cameras. Videos from these cameras have helped prove claims for a number of clients. Even when there is no camera at the intersection, local businesses may have a camera that points toward the car accident scene. These videos are written over quickly, so getting them quickly is important. A good personal injury attorney should be able to figure out whether a video exists, but it is important to give the attorney time to get the video before it is deleted.
- Seek medical treatment: if you are feeling any symptoms after a motor vehicle accident, it is important to seek medical treatment. Getting a diagnosis and appropriate recommendations is essential to getting better.
DO I HAVE A CASE?
Whether you have a case depends on two things: fault and injuries. The first question is whether you are at fault for the crash. Sometimes that is an easy question. For example, someone who has been rear-ended is almost never going to have any fault. Same with a passenger in car accident. In more complicated cases, the law looks at whether each driver is negligent, meaning they did not act as a reasonable person would have.
Minnesota is a comparative fault state, meaning that we compare the fault of one person to another to determine if you have a case. If you are 50% or less at fault for a car accident, you will have a claim against the other driver or their insurance. Your damages will be reduced by the percentage you are at fault. For example, if your case is worth $100,000 but you are 25% at fault for the car accident, you will recover $75,000. Someone who is more than 50% does have a claim against the other person involved in the car crash.
Analyzing fault can be complicated and stressful and is something an experienced St. Paul car accident attorney can help with.
The second issue is damages. Damages are something that a person lost as the result of their injuries. This can be:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future wage loss
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- And many other types of losses
If you are not at fault and have medical bills and wage loss following a car accident, you will always be entitled to those. To have a case for pain and suffering or other “noneconomic damages,” you must first meet a “threshold” as defined by Minnesota law. The statute can be found here. The thresholds that can be met are:
- Medical bills in excess of $4,000, not including diagnostic X-rays;
- Permanent disfigurement;
- Permanent injury;
- Death; or
- A 60-day disability.
You must only meet one of these thresholds to have a claim for pain and suffering. Once you meet a threshold, you are entitled to be compensated for the way your life has been affected. That can be anything from the pain you have to missing out on your favorite activities to being worried about your future.
Even if you have not yet met a threshold, you should seek out an experienced St. Paul car accident attorney to give you guidance.
CAN MY RATES GO UP IF I AM INJURED IN A MINNESOTA CAR ACCIDENT?
Whether your rates can increase is determined by who is determined to be at fault for the crash. If you are injured and your insurance paid medical bills or wage loss, your rates cannot go up if you are 50% or less at fault for the car crash.
WHO PAYS MY MEDICAL BILLS AND WAGE LOSS AFTER A CAR CRASH?
After a Minnesota car accident, many people wonder how they will get their medical bills and wage loss paid. Worries over medical bills often prevent people from taking an ambulance or seeking emergency medical care after a car accident. If at the time of the motor vehicle accident, you have your own car insurance, live with a relative who has car insurance, are in a vehicle that has car insurance, or are a pedestrian that was hit by a car with insurance, you will have immediate access to payments for medical bills and wage loss.
Minnesota is a no-fault state, meaning that regardless of who is at fault for the motor vehicle crash, the injured person’s initial medical bills and wage loss are paid by their own car insurance. This is a benefit we all pay for when we buy car insurance called no-fault insurance or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. The Minnesota minimum for these benefits are $20,000 for medical bills and a separate $20,000 in wage loss. Wage loss benefits are payable at 85% of gross wages at a maximum of $500 per week.
Unfortunately, some people, especially those who have suffered serious injuries, incur more than $20,000 in bills or wage loss. If this happens, any additional bills or wage loss must be sought against the at-fault driver’s insurance at the end of the case. While it is always a good idea to get a car accident attorney when you are injured in a car accident, it will be extremely important to hire someone if you exceed this $20,000.
WHO PAYS FOR MY VEHICLE DAMAGE?
This depends on whether you have collision coverage and if you are at fault. Collision coverage provides immediate payment for vehicle damage up to the limit of your coverage and subject to your deductible regardless if you are at fault. Even if you are not at fault, it may sometimes make sense to go through your own insurance company because it can be faster. While you may have to pay the deductible up front, you will receive it back from the at-fault driver’s insurance company assuming they accept fault.
If you do not have collision coverage, you must go through the at-fault driver’s insurance. This can be frustrating if that insurance company is prolonging the investigation or their insured is not cooperating. This can leave people without a car for weeks or even months. Typically, an investigation must be completed within 30 business days as required by the Minnesota Fair Claims Practices Act.
WHAT FACTORS ARE USED TO VALUE A MINNESOTA CAR ACCIDENT CASE?
In addition to medical bills and wage loss after a car crash, Minnesota personal injury law also allows compensation for “noneconomic damages,” or what some people think of as pain and suffering. This includes compensation for pain, embarrassment, disability, emotional distress, and other factors.
Despite what many lawyers and insurance companies will tell you, it will likely be impossible to determine the value of your case immediately following the car accident. It is important to see how you recover from your injuries to determine the value. Sometimes people with terrible initial injuries recover well and do not need much care in the future. Sometimes a person who thinks they only have a muscle strain ends up with a herniated disc and needing surgery and has significant future medical bills and pain.
Even though it may be difficult to value a case initially, that should not stop you from speaking with an experienced St. Paul car accident attorney. An experienced attorney can help you maximize the value at every stage.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A SETTLEMENT AFTER A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
After a motor vehicle crash, a person injured through no fault of their own may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance. Often people wonder how long this process takes. Each case is different and depends on two things: how long it takes to recover from the crash and whether the insurance company makes a fair offer.
An experienced personal injury attorney would always advise against trying to settle a case too soon. Settling too soon could lead to letting the at-fault driver’s insurer off the hook for medical bills and additional pain and suffering compensation that may result from additional diagnoses and treatment that occur after the settlement.
A settlement should occur at one of two points: either when you are 100% recovered from your injuries from the car crash, or when a doctor says that those injuries are permanent and can give a good opinion as to what medical care might be needed in the future.
DO I STILL HAVE A CLAIM EVEN IF I DO NOT HAVE CAR INSURANCE?
Yes, if you are not at fault and the at-fault driver has insurance, you can make a claim against that person’s insurance. You will not have PIP benefits, meaning no car insurance will pay medical or wage loss benefits during the case, but you will be able to seek medical bills, wage loss, and pain and suffering from the at-fault driver’s insurance as part of a lump sum settlement at the end of the case. You may not have car insurance because you don’t own a car and are a passenger or pedestrian, or because your forgot to pay your premiums. The reason does not matter. If you are involved in a car crash in Minnesota that is not your fault, you have a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance.
DO I HAVE A CLAIM IF THE PERSON WHO CAUSED THE CAR CRASH DOES NOT HAVE INSURANCE?
Yes, if you have your own car insurance, live with a relative who has car insurance, or are in a vehicle that has car insurance. Every car insurance policy is required by Minnesota law to have uninsured motorist benefits. This is in addition to the PIP benefits you will have as outlined above. The Minnesota minimum for uninsured motorist coverage is $25,000. This will provide additional coverage for medical bills and wage loss and also provides coverage for pain and suffering.
Multiple uninsured motorist policies may apply if you are not the owner of the vehicle you are in at the time of the crash. It is important to hire an experienced Minnesota personal injury attorney to investigate all coverage to make sure you are getting the benefit of all available policies.
WHAT IF THE PERSON WHO CAUSED THE CAR ACCIDENT DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH INSURANCE?
Much like uninsured motorist coverage, Minnesota law requires that anyone who has car insurance must have $25,000 in underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage is just what it sounds like. If someone is injured in Minnesota in a car accident, and the person who caused the car accident does not have enough insurance to cover the damage they caused, your underinsured motorist coverage will give you additional benefits up to your coverage limit.
Minnesota car accident laws are favorable for victims of car crashes who need to use their underinsured motorist coverage. Unlike many other states, Minnesota’s underinsured motorist coverage is add-on coverage, meaning it is additional coverage to the at-fault driver’s insurance. In addition, Minnesota law does not require a person to exhaust the at-fault driver’s coverage before pursuing an underinsured motorist claim. These two laws make it both easier to settle and provide more total coverage.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY AFTER A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
Right after a car accident can be the most stressful time for someone who is injured. You may be wondering whether you can work, how you will pay medical bills, how you will afford a new car, and what you are supposed to do for medical treatment. Not to mention you will be flooded with calls from the insurance company and requests to fill out paperwork. At Tyroler Injury Law we handle all of your paperwork and take all of the insurance company phone calls so you can focus on getting better.
Even if you do not hire an attorney to handle the work at the beginning of the case, insurance companies do not offer settlements because they want to be fair. An insurance company who is not worried about you starting a lawsuit will never put their top dollar on the table for you. Having an experienced Minnesota car accident attorney will help appropriately value the case and maximize the settlement from the insurance company or take the case to trial, if necessary.
HOW DO ATTORNEY FEES WORK?
At Tyroler Injury Law, we work entirely on contingency fees, meaning you will not pay any fees unless we are able to recover money for you. Consultations are entirely free, and we are happy to give advice to help you in any way we can.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO START A LAWSUIT AFTER A ST. PAUL CAR ACCIDENT?
You have six years to start a lawsuit after a Minnesota car accident.
Injured? Contact a St. Paul Personal Injury Attorney
If you have questions about a St. Paul car accident, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 651-259-1113. You deserve to have compassionate, experienced representation. Please see here why we are the right choice for you.