Your Minneapolis Car Accident: The Basics
You were stuck in the boring 9 to 5 rut, so you and your roommate took the plunge and signed up for the "Everyday Improv" course at Brave New Workshop. Tonight is the first class and on the drive there your palms are a little sweaty. You take a deep breath to calm down as you approach the intersection of 26th Street and Hennepin, and next thing you know your car is rear-ended! Nobody's laughing now. What do you do? Here is some information to help you with your car accident in Minneapolis.
Immediately after any car accident in Minneapolis, you should stop at or as close to the site as possible without unnecessarily blocking traffic. Minnesota law requires you to pull over and provide information no matter if the accident involves property damage or personal injury. The law also requires that you provide "reasonable assistance" to anyone injured, so check if anyone needs help and call 911 if necessary.
In an accident involving vehicle damage, bodily injury, or death, you are required to provide to the other party:
- Your name;
- Your address;
- Your date of birth; and
- The registration plate number of the vehicle being driven.
If requested and available, you must show your driver's license. You must also, at the scene, or within 72 hours after, provide your insurance information if requested.
It is understandable that you may be rattled after an accident, but make sure to stop and provide the required information. Depending on the extent of the accident, failure to do so can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony, subject to imprisonment and fines.
Here is a First Steps Checklist you can use to help gather information at the accident scene.
If the accident results in injury or death you are required to report it "by the quickest means of communication" to the authorities appropriate to where the accident occurred (local police, state patrol, or county sheriff). So direct your communication right away to the Minneapolis Police Department, the Minnesota State Patrol, or the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce outlines automobile insurance information in this consumer information booklet.
As the booklet explains in more detail, generally speaking, if you are driving in Minnesota you are required to carry four types of insurance coverage: liability, personal injury protection ("PIP"), underinsured motorist and uninsured motorist.
Liability coverage pays for damage caused to the other car or driver/passenger. In Minnesota you are required to carry liability insurance of at least $30,000 for each injured individual, $60,000 for injuries to 2 or more, and $10,000 for property damage.
PIP is also known as "no fault" or "economic loss" coverage. This coverage pays you for medical expenses and lost wages you sustained in the accident, no matter whose fault it was. In Minnesota you are required to carry PIP insurance of at least $40,000 per person per accident ($20,000 for hospital/medical expenses and $20,000 for non-medical expenses).
Under-insured motorist coverage pays for your medical claims when the other driver is responsible for the accident but doesn't have sufficient liability insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your medical claims when the other driver is responsible for the accident but doesn't have any insurance. In Minnesota, the minimum limits for uninsured and under-insured coverage are the same: $25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 for injuries to 2 or more.
Filing a Claim or Suit
Because you are required to have "no-fault" or PIP coverage in Minnesota, after an accident you generally first make a claim on your own PIP for medical costs, wage loss and replacement services.
In certain circumstances, you may make a claim against the driver who caused the accident. Bear in mind that in Minneapolis and the rest of Minnesota, you generally have 6 years to bring a "negligence" action.
To prove that the other driver was negligent, you must show that he failed to exercise reasonable care and that their carelessness caused or contributed to your injury. If the negligence led to someone's death, a wrongful death action may be brought.
You may bring a negligence action in Minneapolis even if you were partially at fault, so long as your fault is not greater than the other party's. Your recovery will be reduced based on your fault. For example, if you were 40% at fault and the other driver was 60% at fault and you had $10,000 in damages, you would still be able to bring a claim for $6000 (60%) against the other driver.
Should You Get An Attorney?
Depending on the extent of the accident and your injuries, you may wish to retain an attorney. Check out FindLaw's section on Car Accident Legal Help for more information and assistance.