If a car accident injures you, the Minnesota car accident lawyers from Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers can seek compensation for you. We can answer questions about your claim and tell you about the services we can provide to assist you with your claim.
We Bring Experience to Your Claim
People injured by a negligent driver are often reluctant to hire an attorney to help them seek compensation for their injuries. They fear that they cannot afford the attorney’s services or that pursuing compensation is something they can do on their own.
Unfortunately, the process can overwhelm you.
You need assistance from someone who understands the law and all aspects of making a claim successful.
Our contingent fee billing method ensures that you can afford our services because you will not pay us anything unless we successfully resolve your claim. We have obtained millions of dollars for our clients—we bring experience and a deep understanding of car accident laws that can help you obtain the compensation you need.
What Causes Car Accidents in Minnesota?
Minnesota sees more than 57,000 motor vehicle accidents yearly, resulting in more than 20,000 injuries and nearly 400 fatalities. While the state is one of the safest in the nation for drivers, accidents can and do happen. Most accidents result from a driver's careless or reckless behavior.
This human error—or negligence—causes most motor vehicle accidents in Minnesota. However, negligence comes in many forms. Here is a look at some of the state’s most common causes of car accidents.
Speed is the leading cause of car accidents in Minnesota, resulting in 122 deaths in a year and thousands of injuries.
- A greater risk of losing control of the vehicle.
- Less opportunity to detect a hazard on the road and respond to it by braking.
- An increased distance that the vehicle will travel after the driver has braked due to the additional work the brakes have to do to slow the weight of the vehicle until it comes to a complete stop.
- Difficulty experienced by other drivers when attempting to judge a safe gap in traffic in which to enter a roadway.
- A more severe collision results from the increased force created by excess speed.
Alcohol impairment is another of the significant causes of traffic accidents on roadways across the nation. In Minnesota, around 80 people die each year from accidents caused by drunk driving, and many more are injured.
Alcohol creates deficits in the skills that a driver needs to operate their vehicle safely, such as:
- The ability to track moving targets as needed for roadway surveillance.
- Difficulty performing more than one task at a time.
- Reduced coordination.
- Difficulty responding appropriately to emergency driving situations.
- Loss of concentration and short-term memory.
- Difficulty steering the vehicle, controlling speed, and maintaining a single lane of travel.
- Difficulty paying attention to the task of driving and making safe driving decisions.
Driver distractions cause more than 30 deaths a year in Minnesota, and a distracted driver causes around one of every nine crashes in the state. On a national level, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic-related fatalities.
There are three main types of driver distractions:
- Manual distractions, which cause the driver to take their hands from the proper position on the steering wheel.
- Visual distractions, which cause the driver to take their eyes from watching the road.
- Cognitive distractions, which draw the driver’s thoughts away from the task of safe driving.
While all distractions are dangerous when driving, one of the most concerning to lawmakers and traffic safety experts is texting and driving, as it is simultaneously a manual, visual, and cognitive distraction. In the time it takes a texting driver to read or reply to a message while traveling 55 miles an hour, their vehicle will have traveled the length of a football field without the driver looking at the road, properly holding the steering wheel, or thinking about driving safely.
Minnesota’s Hands-Free law prohibits drivers from reading or sending texts or emails or accessing the internet on a hand-held device while the vehicle is moving, part of traffic, or sitting at a red light or a stop sign.
Aggressive driving refers to a series of unsafe driver behaviors used to evade areas of congestion on the road.
In addition to speeding, these behaviors often include:
- Improper passing, such as passing in a turn lane or on the shoulder of the road.
- Improper lane changes, which include failing to use a turn signal to indicate a lane change or failing to ensure a travel lane is clear before moving into it.
- Tailgating, which involves one vehicle following another so closely that the driver has little time to stop if the car in front of them unexpectedly slows or stops.
- Brake checking, which refers to a driver slamming on their brakes to cause a tailgating vehicle to either rear-end them or the driver of the tailgating vehicle to back off.
- Red light running.
- Cutting off other drivers.
Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way
Drivers are responsible for yielding the right-of-way to other roadway users in many circumstances, including at stop signs, red lights, railway crossings, and crosswalks. Failure to yield is a prevalent cause of accidents involving vulnerable roadway users, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, and it also can lead to broadside (T-bone) accidents.
Driver fatigue refers to physical or mental exhaustion that impairs the driver’s performance on the roadway. While driver fatigue is more commonly associated with long-haul truck drivers and those who work night or swing shifts, any driver can experience fatigue due to significant life changes, such as a new job or a baby in the home. A recent survey found that 37 percent of U.S. roadways drivers regularly get fewer than seven hours of sleep at night.
Lack of sleep and attempting to drive when the body is instinctively wired to sleep are significant causes of driver fatigue. Other causes include performing monotonous tasks or experiencing long periods of inactivity and health conditions such as sleep apnea that affect the quality of sleep a person gets, leaving them feeling unrested even when they have had the recommended hours of sleep.
Many of the symptoms of driver fatigue mimic alcohol impairment, such as a slowed response in emergencies, short-term memory loss, difficulty maintaining lane position, and difficulty making good driving decisions.
Wrong-way driving refers to the act of driving in the opposing travel lane. While wrong-way driving is commonly a result of alcohol or drug impairment, it can also result from the driver’s unfamiliarity with the roadway or the area leading them to turn onto a one-way road or ramp.
Types of Car Accidents That Occur in Minnesota
Many things can cause many types of car accidents in Minnesota.
These types include:
- Rear-end accidents, which occur when the front of one vehicle makes contact with the rear of another. This is often considered a "fender-bender" or a minor event. However, these accidents result in around half a million injuries in the U.S. each year and approximately 1,700 deaths.
- Broadside (T-bone) collisions, which occur when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another. These are among the most common types of crashes occurring in an intersection, generally due to a driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way. Broadside accidents are hazardous for occupants sitting on the side of the vehicle that was struck due to the lack of protection built into the door panels of vehicles. A large discrepancy between the vehicles involved in the accident also increases the risk of severe injury or death.
- Head-on collisions, which happen when the front of one vehicle makes contact with the front of another. While relatively rare compared to other accident types, head-ons are overrepresented in accident fatality statistics due to the increased force of the collision resulting from the forward motion of both vehicles.
- Sideswipes, which occur when the side of one vehicle makes contact with the side of another. Sideswipes commonly occur due to an improper lane change in which a driver fails to check to see if a lane is clear—including checking blind spots—before entering it.
- Single vehicle accidents, which occur when one vehicle is involved in an accident. It is important to note that pedestrian accidents are often referred to as single-vehicle accidents as there was only one car involved.
- Rollover accidents, which can occur regardless of how many vehicles are involved. Rollovers often occur because the vehicle’s tires “trip” on something in the roadway, such as another vehicle, a median, or a light post. Taller vehicles, including commercial trucks and SUVs, feature a higher center of gravity and are prone to rolling over in these circumstances and when attempting to take a curve or sharp corner while driving too fast.
Seeking Compensation After a Minnesota Car Accident Injures You
Suppose you have been injured in a car accident in Minnesota due to someone else’s negligence. In that case, the personal injury claims process is the appropriate avenue to use when seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury.
Minnesota's no-fault insurance law requires you to first use your personal injury protection (PIP) policy to cover basic costs following an accident, regardless of who was at fault. Minnesota drivers are required to obtain a PIP policy of at least $40,000 to $20,000 of which is designated for medical expenses and the remainder for other types of covered expenses, such as wage loss and hiring someone to perform household duties that you are not able to manage due to your injury.
Once you have exhausted the coverage of your personal injury protection policy, you can seek additional compensation for impacts and expenses you incurred from the injury by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party’s auto liability insurance policy.
Upon receiving your claim, the insurance provider will assign a claims adjuster to evaluate it. The claims adjuster is an insurance company team member tasked with analyzing claims and determining whether it owes compensation to the claimant.
We cannot emphasize this enough: The claims adjuster works for the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Their goal is to reduce or eliminate payouts on claims, not to make obtaining compensation after an accident easy for the claimant.
If the insurance provider fails to pay the claim in full or make an offer to settle it out-of-court fairly, you have the option to file it as a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Minnesota car accident claimants generally have six years from the accident to file their lawsuit. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations, and allowing it to expire without a claim being filed will usually result in losing the ability to sue.
Unfortunately, if this happens, you cannot obtain a settlement, either, as insurance companies only offer settlements to avoid litigation’s expense and uncertainty. If you can no longer sue, they have no reason to settle.
Minnesota Car Accident Lawyer FAQ
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Minnesota Car Accident?
Minnesota law allows you two years from your car accident to bring a lawsuit against the party responsible for the crash and related injuries. If you are bringing a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one in a Minnesota car accident, a different statute of limitations applies.
Eligible family members have three years from the date of death, but no longer than six years from the date of the car accident, to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party. Regardless of which statute applies to your situation, you should consult with a Minnesota car accident attorney, like those at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, as soon as possible.
If you miss legal deadlines for filing a lawsuit, you risk losing your chance to recover losses related to the car accident and your injuries or the death of a loved one. Additionally, the longer you wait to take action, the more difficult it is to secure witness testimony and other evidence to support your claim. Some rare exceptions provide grounds for a court to toll or pause the statute of limitations time clock.
If you are worried you have gone beyond the time limit for your car accident claim, a car accident lawyer can review your claim and advise you on your next steps. Contact us at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers as soon as possible.
Do I Have to File a Police Report After a Minnesota Car Accident?
Minnesota law requires all drivers involved in a collision to report the accident to law enforcement when death, bodily harm, or property damage occurs. Drivers must provide their name, date of birth, address, e-mail, and license plate. They must also provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured if they are physically able. When a severe accident occurs, local or state police typically come to the scene of the accident and fill out a report. In the event of a minor crash or another situation where law enforcement does not come to the accident scene, drivers must immediately report the crash. Additionally, they have 72 hours to provide insurance information.
Do I Have to Seek Medical Treatment After a Minnesota Car Accident?
If you were in a major car accident, you were likely transported to the nearest hospital via ambulance for treatment in their emergency room. However, some drivers and occupants walk away seemingly unscathed after a car accident, so they refuse medical treatment at the scene of the accident. Car accidents sometimes result in hidden injuries, so you must seek medical attention as soon as possible to help ensure your health and well-being and preserve the value of your claim.
Some injuries do not immediately show symptoms. Victims might wait days before they realize they suffered an injury, potentially causing more damage. For example, concussions and other types of brain injuries sometimes have a long-term impact that is not immediately apparent. What seems like a bump on the head and some mild soreness can be a life-threatening brain injury that needs immediate treatment. The same is true of abdominal pain. A mild stomach ache can indicate internal bleeding and/or organ damage.
If you let a physician examine you soon after your car accident, you can avoid causing more damage and have the opportunity to learn about common hidden car accident injuries sooner than later. Additionally, seeking medical treatment after a Minnesota car accident can create a medical record that proves you suffered your injuries in the accident, not a previous event. This makes it difficult for another party to argue you have pre-existing injuries, and your doctor can testify to your injuries, treatment, and long-term prognosis.
How Does Minnesota’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Factor Into My Car Accident Claim?
Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state that requires those who register a motor vehicle with the state to carry minimum amounts of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that covers car accident injuries regardless of who caused them. Minnesota’s minimum PIP coverage is $40,000, including $20,000 for medical treatment costs and $20,000 for lost wages and replacement services.
Your PIP coverage benefits you, especially if you suffer minor or moderate injuries and are likely to make a full recovery. However, the most severe car accidents lead to costly injuries that quickly exceed PIP minimums. Once you have exceeded your PIP coverage limit, you must pay for your medical expenses and absorb lost wages until you return to work unless you file a claim against the party(s) responsible for the accident and your injuries.
A Minnesota car accident lawyer, like those at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, can deal with the insurance companies and help you recover additional compensation beyond your PIP coverage limits. Once you reach $4,000 in medical treatment costs, suffer a permanent injury, or face at least 60 days of disability, the law permits you to step outside the no-fault system and seek damages from the at-fault party. You deserve full compensation for your car accident injuries, especially when you did not cause them.
What Damages Can I Recover if I Bring a Car Accident Injury Lawsuit?
If you decide to bring a lawsuit against a person, business, or other entity that caused your car accident and injuries, you could receive compensation for a wide range of damages related to the accident and your injuries if you win your case. Each claim is different, so amounts and types of damages vary.
Some common damages car accident victims recover in car accident injury lawsuits include:
- Medical expenses not covered by PIP coverage, including hospitalization, X-rays, diagnostic tests, follow-up doctor visits, prescriptions, surgery, and transportation costs to and from the hospital/doctor
- Estimated future medical treatment costs when a car accident victim requires ongoing care and treatment because of a permanent disability
- Lost income from missing work that PIP did not cover
- Estimated future lost wages for car accident victims who can no longer work because of their injuries
- Rehabilitation costs, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other specialized therapy that helps car accident victims cope with the physical and emotional aspects of their injuries
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of consortium
What Do I Do If an Uninsured Driver Caused the Car Accident that Led to My Injuries?
The first step to recovering damages after any Minnesota car accident is to file a claim under your mandatory PIP policy. If your injuries are minor, the fact that the driver who caused the accident was uninsured will not matter. Minnesota requires all drivers who register a vehicle to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in addition to their PIP coverage. Once you have exhausted your PIP benefits, your uninsured motorist coverage (UM) will kick in to pay additional benefits up to your policy limit.
If you have not purchased UM coverage, you are not only in violation of state law, but you likely will have to absorb the costs for vehicle repairs, lost wages, and medical expenses not covered by your PIP benefits. You likely still have grounds for a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, if they had financial means, they would not be driving around uninsured. Even if you prevail in your accident injury lawsuit, you might find it difficult or impossible to collect money related to a judgment in your favor. Your Minnesota car accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your accident and advise you on the best way to recover compensation if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer from Another Driver’s Insurance Carrier?
You should never accept a settlement from any insurance carrier without running it by a lawyer if you want to ensure you are getting fair compensation. Insurance companies focus on their bottom line, so they do what they can to pay as little as possible on a claim if they cannot deny it. If a carrier investigates an accident and finds their policyholder is likely at fault for a car accident, they sometimes make an early settlement offer to victims.
These early offers are often predatory. They tempt car accident victims, many of whom suffer financially from their injuries, to take the money. Once a car accident victim accepts a settlement offer, they waive any future right to compensation for their injuries. This prevents insurance companies from making a larger settlement payout or court-awarded damages later on. Early offers are often far less than car accident victims deserve or could otherwise secure by going to trial.
You ultimately decide whether to accept an offer, but it is best to consult with a lawyer first. Consider an early offer as a jumping-off point for settlement negotiations. If you settle too soon, you risk having to pay for additional expenses related to your injuries. Instead, let a lawyer handle the details and allow some time for your doctors to know the full scope of your car accident injuries. You may be able to recover more damages than initially included in the first offer you receive from an insurance company.
How Can Your Minnesota Car Accident Lawyers Help Me?
A car accident lawyer advocates for their clients to get the justice they deserve for the economic and non-economic losses they have suffered because of their injuries. They also help clients hold others accountable for negligent behavior, preventing future drivers from falling victim to the same party’s actions.
Our Minnesota car accident lawyers can help by:
- Evaluating the facts of a car accident claim to determine eligibility for compensation and provide car accident victims with legal options to recover damages.
- Communicating with insurance carriers and their legal teams to protect clients from saying something that could devalue their claim.
- Investigating car accidents to uncover evidence to help support their clients’ claims.
- Consulting with experts to accurately value a car accident injury claim so clients have the best odds of receiving maximum compensation for their injuries.
- Negotiating with insurance carriers to secure the highest settlement possible for clients and taking advantage of the fact that most insurance companies take car accident victims with legal counsel more seriously.
- Fighting for clients during litigation when settlement is not an option because of liability disputes or unfair settlement offers.
- Advocating for clients in the courtroom when the other driver lies, disputes liability, or the insurance company does not want to offer fair compensation.
Can I Afford to Hire a Minnesota Car Accident Lawyer?
Yes you can afford ours.
While some people assume they cannot afford a lawyer and choose to go it alone, without a car accident injury lawyer advocating for them, they miss out on compensation because of insurance company tactics.
Our Minnesota car accident law firm provides free case evaluations for potential clients. During these initial consultations, you can share your stories, ask questions, and learn about your best course of action.
If you hire our Minnesota car accident lawyers, we will take your case on a contingent fee basis. This means you do not have to pay anything upfront. Instead, we will deduct fees and costs of representation from any settlement or jury award you receive. Contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers today for a free case evaluation to see how we can help you.
Call Our Minnesota Car Accident Attorneys Today
Let one of the experienced Minnesota car accident lawyers from Nicolet Law Accident and Injury Lawyers explore your legal options for obtaining compensation for your injury.
Contact us online for your free case evaluation or call Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers at (612) 688-4459 today.
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