Frequently Asked Questions for a Minnesota Injury Law Firm

In the stressful and emotional time following an accident, it is important to know how to protect your legal rights and options. Here, we provide answers to some frequently asked questions about being involved in an accident and bringing a personal injury claim in Minnesota.

  • What should I do if I'm involved in a car crash?
  • Do I need to hire a personal injury attorney if I've been involved in an accident?
  • When should I hire a personal injury attorney?
  • What will it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?
  • Who pays for my medical bills and potential wage loss?
  • Will my insurance rates go up?
  • Will I have to sue anyone?
  • If I do have to file suit, whom will I be suing?
  • How long will the process take?

What should I do if I'm involved in a car crash?

If you are involved in a car accident, do these 10 things for your safety, and to protect your legal rights:

  1. Report the accident to the police.
  2. Exchange contact and insurance information with all drivers involved in the collision.
  3. Get names and contact information of all witnesses.
  4. Take photographs of the scene, vehicles and damage.
  5. Wait for the police to arrive at the scene to make a report.
  6. Get treatment if injured and tell your treating provider of the crash.
  7. Report the crash to your insurance company.
  8. Do not give a written or recorded statement to any insurance company without consulting with an attorney first.
  9. Contact an attorney who represents injured people for a free consultation.
  10. Follow your doctor's advice for treatment.

Do I need to hire a personal injury attorney if I've been involved in an accident?

If you are injured as a result of someone else's negligence, and you will be making a personal injury claim against an insurance company, the answer is typically yes. The insurance company generally does not treat you like it says it will in commercials. You may be forced to fight for benefits for which you have already paid a hefty premium. Additionally, the insurance company is looking to keep its money, not pay out. Studies have shown that settlements with clients who are represented are almost three times that of settlements with clients who are not represented.

When should I hire a personal injury attorney?

You should consult a personal injury attorney immediately. Oftentimes, the insurance company will call you the day of or the day after the accident to request a statement from you. Usually, it will request that the statement be recorded. This statement may be used against you at a later date. Further, the insurance company will request that you sign authorizations so that they may obtain information about you.

An attorney can determine what the insurance company is and is not entitled to obtain and review. Also, the sooner you hire a personal injury attorney, the sooner witnesses' statements can be obtained and their testimony preserved. The more time that passes between the accident and contacting the witnesses, the more likely it is that the witnesses may not recall specific facts that would be helpful to your case.

What will it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?

Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means attorney's fees are owed only if there is a recovery.

Who pays for my medical bills and potential wage loss?

Minnesota is a no-fault state. That means the state requires that every policy of insurance provide a minimum of $20,000 in medical benefits and up to $20,000 in wage loss benefits. Policies on motorcycles may or may not include no-fault benefits. No-fault means that it does not matter who caused the collision; your own policy of insurance should pay your medical bills and wage loss as long as the bills are reasonable, necessary and related to the injuries sustained in the collision.

The benefits are paid first by your own policy of insurance, but if you do not have your own policy, then possibly benefits will be paid from the policy on the vehicle you were in at the time of the collision, or from a family member's insurance policy. If you have stacking on your vehicles, you may be entitled to more than the $20,000 minimums.

Typically, your own insurance company will not pay the entire benefits available to you without a fight. Even though it is your own company, it is not working for you. In fact, oftentimes, your own insurance company will attempt to obtain a recorded statement from you following the collision that it may or may not use against you at a later date. Because of this, you should contact a personal injury attorney before providing a statement to any insurance company, even if it is your own.

Will my insurance rates go up?

Not unless you are found more than 50% at fault for the accident. If you are found less than 50% at fault, then the law says your insurance company cannot raise your rates if you make a claim for medical benefits and wage loss.

Will I have to sue anyone?

Typically, eight out of 10 cases result in settlement before involving the court systems. Of the other 20% that are filed with the court system and headed to a jury trial, 90% settle prior to reaching a jury verdict. The ultimate decision to settle is yours. Your attorney provides you with recommendations and advice based on the facts of your case.

If I do have to file suit, whom will I be suing?

If the insurance company for the at-fault party does not make an offer that you are willing to accept, then the next step is to sue the at-fault party. Although 99% of the time we are dealing directly with the insurance company for the at-fault party, the law requires that the at-fault party be named as the defendant in a claim against the party. In Minnesota, you cannot name the insurance company as the at-fault party.

How long will the process take?

It depends. Before discussing settlement with the insurance company, we need to know about all of your injuries and whether or not the doctors believe they are permanent in nature. Typically, doctors wait for approximately one year before they can determine if the injuries you have experienced will have lasting effects. If all of your injuries are not fully evaluated by the time settlement with the insurance company is reached, your claim may not be evaluated properly, and in most cases, you have only one chance to settle your claim with the insurance company.

How can I learn more?

If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident, please contact Bowden ♦ Cyr, PLLC in St. Paul, Minnesota. During a free initial consultation, we can discuss your options for receiving fair and reasonable compensation in your case.