The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
5 Common Misconceptions About Minnesota Personal Injury Law
April 21, 2018
Every year, serious car crashes injure or kill millions of people. Medical bills, monthly living expenses, and other costs quickly pile up, and there is often no money coming in to pay them. At the same time, an insurance company representative calls almost constantly with a can’t-miss settlement offer. Making matters worse, the pain from the accident makes it very difficult to get through daily activities.
A Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer offers relief from all these problems. Most of our clients at Carlson & Jones get ongoing medical treatment without paying any money upfront. Furthermore, a lawyer gives your case an accurate settlement value. So, you don’t sell your case short and don’t hold out for money that may be unavailable.
Despite all these advantages, and more, some people are reluctant to partner with an attorney. Here are some of the excuses we hear the most frequently.
Partial Fault Precludes Legal Claims in Minnesota
Some victims think if they were partially at fault for the accident that they cannot obtain damages. Contributory negligence is extremely common in Minnesota car crash cases, which is why the law makes specific provisions in this area. Joint fault does not change the fact that you were hurt in an accident. So, although your damages may be reduced, there is still plenty of money available.
Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Assume Vinnie Victim and Terry Tortfeasor collide in an intersection. The evidence indicates that Vinnie was travelling 45mph in a 40mph zone, and Terry made an illegal turn. If the jury divides fault 50-50, Vinnie would indeed get nothing. Terry was not at least 51 percent at fault. But if the jury divided fault 60 percent to Terry and 40 percent to Vinnie, Vinnie receives a proportional share of damages.
In these cases, a personal injury attorney must maximize the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) role in the accident and minimize the victim’s role. So, Vinnie’s attorney could point out that he was only travelling five mph over the speed limit. That’s not fast enough to significantly affect stopping distance or driving ability, in most cases. However, Terry pulled into the intersection without looking. That’s a classic violation of the rules of the road and one that the jury can clearly see.
Even if both drivers got tickets at the scene, you may still be eligible for significant compensation. The only way to know for sure is to speak with an experienced attorney.
Fault Doesn’t Matter in a Minnesota Car Crash
In this context, no-fault doesn’t always mean no-fault. Minnesota does have a no-fault insurance law, but it only applies in non-serious injury collisions. Victims may file liability claims if they meet the 4000/60 requirement.
First, medical bills must be more than $4,000. If you went to the hospital, your medical bills usually exceed this threshold even if you did not stay overnight. In the alternative, victims can file liability claims if their injuries precluded their normal activities for at least 60 days. The sixty days do not need to be consecutive.
In these cases, the amount of damages is almost directly related to fault in the accident. The worse the tortfeasor’s conduct or misconduct, the higher the damages, as a rule of thumb.
I Don’t Need a Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer
In the Midwest, many people have a very strong can-do spirit. Usually, that’s a good thing. But seriously injured car crash victims really need to partner with Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers.
A lawyer runs interference. If the insurance company keeps calling, you can refer all these calls to your attorney. If a bill collector calls and demands money, you can refer those calls to your attorney as well.
A lawyer is an advocate. Mostly because of issues like the aforementioned contributory negligence rule, most Minnesota car crashes are incredibly complex. An experienced attorney who is well-educated and deals with these questions every day is in an excellent position to handle your case.
A lawyer gives solid advice. If you have questions about your case, an attorney is a reliable source of information. Solid answers mean a lot in times like these.
If you try to handle the case yourself, the insurance company’s lawyers will bully you and take advantage of you. At Carlson & Jones, we’ve seen it happen time and time again. Your family deserves better.
Minnesota Lawsuits Are Expensive and Messy
This one is partially true. But in most cases, it doesn’t matter. About97 percentof civil cases settle out of court. Many times, the case settles before a lawsuit is even filed. Typically, Minnesota judges order all these cases to go to mediation before trial. During mediation, a third party facilitates settlement negotiations between the two sides. To avoid the risks of a trial, both sides are usually motivated to resolve the case. So, mediation is almost always successful, especially if it is voluntary.
The Other Driver Was Uninsured or Underinsured
This problem is quite frequent in Minnesota. This state has a lot of uninsured and underinsured drivers. Most victims, however, have UM/UIM coverage. If your insurance company refuses to pay, an attorney will fight for compensation. If the case does not settle, it usually goes to arbitration instead of trial.
Minnesota also has a number of strong vicarious liability laws. For example, if the tortfeasor was an employee working within the scope of employment at the time of the crash, the employer may be responsible for damages. Minnesota also has a dram shop law which holds some alcohol providers liable for damages if their intoxicated patrons cause crashes.
CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A MINNESOTA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES
To get maximum compensation for your valuable claim, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. for a free consultation. Our Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers routinely handle cases in Hennepin County and nearby jurisdictions.