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How Lawyers Handle an American Family Insurance Injury Claim in Minnesota

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How Lawyers Handle an American Family Insurance Injury Claim in Minnesota

Most vehicle accident claims end up settling between the plaintiff (the injured person) and the defendant (the insurance company). An American Family Insurance injury claim is the same. The only time a claim goes to court is when an insurance company refuses to pay a fair and reasonable settlement or if a defendant is underinsured.

For example, if the at-fault driver’s insurance only covers $500,000 in damages, but you suffered traumatic brain injuries or other catastrophic injuries that caused a permanent disability, you might have to sue the defendant directly to recover additional damages.

Filing a Claim

With American Family Insurance, as with many other insurance companies, you can file a claim through the insurance company's app, but retain a car accident attorney to file a personal injury claim for you.

The insurance company will need:

  • Your name and policy number. Minnesota is a no-fault state, so you will first claim damages against your insurance company. You can claim additional damages against the at-fault driver’s insurance if you do not have enough coverage. You can sue the at-fault driver if both insurance companies do not have enough coverage. You can give the insurance company this information.
  • A brief description of what happened. Never say anything about the accident, to the other driver’s insurance company, and in some cases you may want to talk with a car accident lawyer before even talking to your own insurance about the accident.
  • Photos of the damage to your vehicle or property. Again, giving this or any other information about the accident to the insurance company is not recommended.
  • The other drivers’ insurance and contact information. You can give the insurance company this information.

Never give more than the essential information to any insurance company, even your own, because:

  • Insurance companies are in business to make money. Any claim decreases their profits.
  • Insurance companies, even your own, will find any reason to deny your claim or offer you the least amount possible.
  • Insurance companies use tricks to place the blame on you.

Although Minnesota is a no-fault state and your insurance company must generally pay certain claims, it will try to pay zero at the worst and often even only a small amount at best.

Insurance companies will twist what you tell them to put all or partial blame on you, which means they can justify paying less. One of the other tricks they use is for the at-fault driver's insurance company to admit its client is at fault, but claim you are not really injured. The insurance company then tells you that it can only pay some low amount that might not even cover medical expenses, never mind other damages you may deserve.

A car accident attorney knows the insurance company’s tricks, so it is less likely to try them with an attorney. Additionally, the insurance company knows that when you get an attorney to represent your interests, you will not settle for some unfair, small offer and are more likely to take it to court.

It costs the insurance company to go to court, it not only has to pay its attorneys, but it may also have court expenses. 

american family insurance injury claim in minnesota

After Filing an Auto Insurance Claim

Once you file a claim, either yourself or through an attorney, the insurance company reviews the claim and starts the process of assigning a claims adjuster. The adjuster will contact you for more information, including copies of the police report, photos, and other information.

This is where you can jeopardize your claim, so always refer the claims adjuster to your car accident attorney if you have not already notified the insurance company of your attorney's contact information.

Steps Lawyers Take After a Vehicle Accident

Once you contact a personal injury attorney's office, they typically set up a free case evaluation. They listen to the facts of the case as you present them. They will review their contingency agreement with you if you decide to retain them.

You do not have to pay for the case evaluation, nor do you pay them attorney’s fees unless they win your case. The contingency agreement outlines their fees and how they handle costs, such as depositions, filing fees, and other hard costs. If you settle your case, the hard costs are significantly less.

All of this comes from what you win, including compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.

After You Retain a Car Accident Attorney

Once you retain a firm, they will work with you to obtain all of the information they can, including:

  • The police report.
  • Witness statements.
  • Your medical records.

They also work with experts to reconstruct the accident scene, review your medical records, and otherwise investigate the accident so that they can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Never hang your hat on what a police report says. The police can only write what you and the other driver say and try to deduce what happened by the position of the vehicles and the damage to you and the vehicle. It is not always correct, especially if the at-fault driver stretches the truth to make the accident look like it is your fault.

Settlement Negotiations

After your attorney gets all the needed evidence, they forward a demand letter to the insurance company. The demand letter includes the accident facts and your estimated damages.

The insurance company will respond in one of three ways:

  • It accepts the demand and cuts a check, which is very rare.
  • It denies your claim.
  • It accepts that its client was at fault for the accident but comes back with a counteroffer.

Once the insurance company forwards a counter offer, you can:

  • Accept the counteroffer.
  • Respond with another offer.
  • Decline the insurance company’s offer and move to litigation

Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may send the insurance company another offer unless the counteroffer is ridiculously low and it does not look like the insurance company will move off it.

Settlement negotiations can go back and forth several times, depending on what the insurance company offers and the severity of your injuries.

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Recovering Damages After a Vehicle Accident

After a car accident in Minnesota, you could recover compensatory and punitive damages. The court orders compensatory damages to make you whole again. Compensatory damages have two parts: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value. Almost everyone in a car accident recovers some form of economic damages.

Medical Expenses

The amount of medical expenses depends on the type of injuries you have.

You could recover for:

  • Doctors’ appointments.
  • Surgeries and follow-up appointments.
  • Cognitive therapy appointments.
  • Occupational therapy appointments.
  • Physical therapy appointments.
  • Psychological therapy appointments.
  • Hand controls for your vehicle.
  • Updates to your home, including wheelchair ramps, grab bars, handrails, and widened doorways.
  • Convalescent care.
  • Home health care.
  • Prescriptions and prescribed over-the-counter medications.
  • Ambulatory aids.

Wages

Often, car accident injuries prevent you from working for a few weeks. If you suffer severe injuries, it could take months before you can work again. And, if you suffer catastrophic injuries, you might never be able to work again.

In other cases, you might be able to work only part-time or at a job that does not pay what you made before the accident.

Regardless of your situation, you could recover lost wages for the time from the wreck through the time you settle or win a trial award. You could also recover a lump sum for loss of earning capacity from the time of the accident through the time you would typically retire.

Personal Property

Vehicle insurance policy covers the loss of some personal property also. Usually, you can recover compensation to repair or replace your vehicle and anything of value that was on your person or in the vehicle if the accident damaged or destroyed it. For example, you could recover compensation for computers, cell phones, and even dry cleaning destroyed or damaged in the wreck.

Death-Related Expenses

If you lost a loved one in a vehicle accident, you could recover compensation to pay for death-related expenses, including:

  • Burial costs.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Cremation costs.
  • Probate attorney fees and costs.
  • Certain probate expenses if you do not retain a probate attorney.

Non-Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a monetary value and include:

  • Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
  • Loss of quality of life.
  • Loss of companionship.
  • Loss of consortium.
  • Loss of use of a body part.
  • Loss of use of a bodily function.
  • Inconvenience.
  • Amputation of a digit or limb.
  • Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.

In most cases, you must show that your injuries are long-term or permanent or that you lost a loved one to collect non-economic damages.

While every insurance company has a different definition for long-term disabilities, the Social Security Administration considers long-term disabilities as those that last longer than 12 months or that result in your death.

Punitive Damages

The court only orders punitive damages if you recover compensatory damages and if the defendant’s actions or inactions were caused by a reckless disregard or were intentional. It takes extra time to obtain punitive damages because you must wait to see if you will recover compensatory damages, and you must also gather additional evidence to show that punitive damages are warranted due to the defendant’s actions.

The court orders the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional behavior. While it takes extra time to obtain punitive damages, it can be worth the wait, especially if your injuries are catastrophic or you lost a loved one in the accident.

What to Do After a Vehicle Accident

For example, if the police release everyone from the scene, the at-fault driver might get their vehicle repaired, thus wiping out some evidence.

The weather and traffic can also destroy evidence at the scene. In other cases, the defendant could purposely destroy evidence.

After the accident, take the following steps, if possible:

  • Call first responders and check on other drivers. If the other driver caused the accident because of road rage, stay away from them just call first responders. It is better to stay safe.
  • Take photos of the accident scene. Be sure to get pictures from all angles and of any damage to the road or nearby property.
  • Speak with witnesses, including passengers in other vehicles involved in the wreck. Obtain their names and contact information. You can also ask witnesses what they saw.
  • Allow first responders to check you over, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Some injuries do not manifest for hours or even days after the accident.
  • Give the police officer your version of what happened.
  • After the police release you from the scene, seek medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are minor.
  • Contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible.
  • Always keep all your medical appointments. Insurance companies will accuse you of embellishing your injuries if you do not keep appointments—and that gives them a reason to offer a lower amount or to deny your claim.

In addition to the actions you should take, you should not:

  • Post about the accident on social media. In fact, do not post any of your activities on social media. Insurance companies troll social media accounts. Even an innocent dinner with your significant other or parents can give the insurance company a reason to question the severity of your injuries.
  • Discuss the accident with anyone except your attorney.
  • Give any information to any insurance company, except for the date and location of the accident and your attorney’s contact information.

Contact a car accident lawyer today for a free case evaluation if you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a vehicle accident.

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Wisconsin Locations:

EAU CLAIRE:
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Suite 305
Eau Claire, WI 54701

Phone: (715) 835-5959
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Green Bay, WI 54301
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