The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
What Is Personal Injury Protection?
July 1, 2018
PIP auto insurance coverage is mandatory in Minnesota and twelve other states. All these jurisdictions have some kind of “no-fault law.” The law applies to non-serious car accidents. Every state defines serious injury in a different way, and we’ll look at Minnesota’s definition below.
No matter who was at fault for the car crash, PIP pays the policyholder’s medical bills. Some policies also replace lost wages. PIP may also pay for lawn care and other such items.
Some Problems with PIP Insurance
As is the case in other states, Minnesota lawmakers hope that PIP reduces the number of car crash lawsuits. There is little evidence to support this point. Overall, car wreck lawsuits are among the few kinds of negligence actions which have increased instead of decreased in recent years. But, the rate of increase has been slight, in many jurisdictions. So that’s basically a toss-up.
What is certain is that PIP fraud is a significant problem. In Florida, which is another no-fault state, authorities recently uncovered a$23 million fraud scheme. Between 2010 and 2017, according to prosecutors, a Boca Raton lawyer presided over an intricate scheme involving fake medical invoices, kickbacks, unnecessary medial treatments, and other insurance fraud-type stuff.
The “swoop and squat” fraud is also quite common in no-fault states. First, an unscrupulous motorist pulls out in front of another driver. Then, that motorist suddenly applies his/her brakes to induce a rear-end collision.
Given these problems, and others like them, it is fairly easy to see why only a handful of states have no-fault laws.
Serious Injuries in Minnesota
PIP fraud is not quite as bad in Minnesota as it is in some other states. Florida defines a “serious injury” only in subjective terms, so it is pretty easy for these cases to go under the radar. But in Minnesota, there are not as many PIP claims. The Gopher State’s law defines a “serious injury” as any wound that leads to more than $4,000 in medical bills. In practical terms, if you go to the hospital in Minnesota, you were in a serious accident under the law.
Minnesota statutes also contain a subjective definition. A “serious injury” could also be one that causes disability of at least 60 days. Those days do not need to be consecutive. Motorcycle crashes are a good example of this rule in action. These victims often sustain road burns. These large abrasions are not very serious. But they take a long time to heal and seriously impair mobility until they get better.
What Causes Serious Car Crashes in Minnesota?
Non-serious wrecks usually involve momentary lapses. For example, a driver might turn his head to speak with a passenger and not see a turning car. Most Brainerd jurors would not consider that to be negligence. But if that driver had been talking on a cell phone for several blocks or reviewing a text message, that’s probably negligence.
Vehicle wrecks kill or seriously injure millions of Americans every year. Most of these wrecks are not “accidents.” Typically, they are not unavoidable instances that the drivers had no power to avoid. Instead, most Minnesota car wrecks involve driver negligence. Some of the most common forms of negligence include:
Speed: Excessive velocity increases the risk of a collision. Fast-moving vehicles are more difficult to control than slow-moving ones. As a result, speeding drivers often lose control of their vehicles when they try to pass or negotiate curves. Speed also increases the force in a collision between two objects. So, a low-speed fender bender is a high-speed serious injury wreck.
Alcohol: Largely because impairment starts with the first drink, alcohol is a factor in about a third of the fatal collisions in Crow Wing County. Drunk drivers are among the most dangerous tortfeasors (negligent drivers). These individuals make a conscious decision to put other people at risk.
Fatigue: Drowsy driving is especially a problem in large vehicle collisions. Many shipping companies pay their truck drivers by the load and not by the mile, so they often drive long distances with little rest. Somewhat similarly, tour bus drivers are usually behind the wheel early in the morning and/or late at night. Most people are naturally drowsy at these times.
If the speed, fatigue, or other negligence was so bad that the driver’s behavior fell below the standard of care, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages. In some cases, the negligence per se shortcut may be available. If the tortfeasor broke a safety law, such as the DWI law or speeding law, liability is a little easier to establish.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Car Crash Case?
Because of the no-fault law, you may not need an attorney for a fender bender. Limited damages are available. So, hiring a lawyer may not be a cost-effective move. That being said an attorney could take care of all the details, so you can focus on life. Sometimes, that’s a big advantage.
However, if your wreck falls under one of the above categories and is a serious injury, you definitely need a Minnesota Lawyer. Substantial additional compensation is available, for things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life. If you do not have an experienced attorney, you have no idea what your case is worth and little chance to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Call Today To Speak With A Minnesota Personal Injury Attorney From Carlson & Jones
You can sometimes count on PIP insurance for fair compensation after a wreck, and you can always count on the experienced Minnesota Personal Injury Attorneys at Carlson & Jones, P.A. for that kind of compensation. You can also count on us for first-class service from one of our many area offices.