Personal Injury FAQ
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 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 lawyer 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, who 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 crash, do these 10 things for your safety and to protect your legal rights:
- Report the accident to the police.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with all drivers involved in the collision.
- Get names and contact information of all witnesses.
- Take photographs of the scene, vehicles, and damage.
- Wait for the police to arrive at the scene to make a report.
- Get treatment if injured and tell your treating provider of the crash.
- Report the crash to your insurance company.
- Do not give a written or recorded statement to any insurance company without consulting with an attorney first.
- Contact an attorney who represents injured people for a free consultation.
- Follow your doctor’s advice for treatment.
Do I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer 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. Insurance companies generally do not treat you like they say they will in commercials. You may be forced to fight for benefits for which you have already paid a hefty premium. The insurance company is looking to keep its money, not pay out. Studies have shown that settlements for clients who are represented by a lawyer are almost three times that of settlements for clients who are not represented.
When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
You should consult an attorney immediately after you suffer an injury. Often, 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 it 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 witnesses may not recall specific facts that would be helpful to your case.
Evidence should be preserved before too much time has passed. Photographs of the scene, vehicles, and injuries should be taken as soon as possible after the accident because the evidence may disappear quickly. Taking photographs of these items is helpful to pursuing a case when the claim is ready.
What Will It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Our 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 auto insurance policy 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, as it is an elective benefit. No-fault means that it does not matter who caused the collision; your own policy should pay your medical bills and wage loss as long as the bills are reasonable, necessary, and related to the injuries suffered in the collision.
The benefits are paid first by your own policy, but if you do not have one, 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 policies on your vehicles, you may be entitled to more than the $20,000 minimum.
Typically, your own insurance company will not pay all the benefits available to you without a fight. Even though it is your company, it is not working for you. In fact, often 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 later. 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?
Your insurance rates will not go up unless you are found more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If you are found less than 50 percent 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 two out of 10 that are filed with the court system and headed to a jury trial, 90 percent settle prior to reaching a jury verdict. The ultimate decision to settle is yours. Your attorney will provide you with recommendations and advice based on the facts of your case.
If I Do Have to File Suit, Who Will I Be Suing?
If the insurance company for the at-fault party does not make an offer that you are willing to accept, the next step is to sue the at-fault party. Although 99 percent of the time we are dealing directly with the insurance company for the at-fault party, the law requires that the at-fault party (i.e., the driver whose car hit you) be named as the defendant in a claim against the party. In Minnesota, you cannot name the insurance company as the at-fault party. The insurance company can be named if the claim includes no-fault benefits or is a claim for underinsured benefits.
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 your doctors believe they are permanent. In some cases, doctors may wait for a 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.
Contact Our Firm to Learn More About Your Personal Injury Case
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident, call 612-254-6409 to schedule your free consultation. You can also contact the Woodbury lawyers of Bowden Cyr, PLLC, online. During a free initial consultation, we can discuss your options for receiving fair and reasonable compensation in your case.