Whether you're driving on I-35 near downtown Minneapolis or on an open road in the countryside, car accidents can happen. And when they do, they're often painful, both physically and mentally. Many people are unclear about how the insurance laws work and how to settle a claim in their state. Here are some basic guidelines on the Minnesota car accident settlement process and timeline.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Minnesota?
Yes, if the accident resulted in injury or death. You are required to report the accident by the quickest means of communication to the local police, state patrol, or county sheriff. Additionally, you are required to file a report with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety within 10 days of the accident if the accident resulted in: (1) injury, (2) death, or (3) property damage of $1,000 or more.
Minnesota Car Insurance Laws
In Minnesota, you must purchase the following types of coverage in the minimum amounts required by law for every vehicle you operate: (1) personal injury protection (PIP), (2) liability coverage, (3) underinsured coverage, and (4) uninsured coverage.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
PIP provides compensation for basic economic damages. Minimum requirements for PIP are $20,000 for medical expenses and $20,000 for non-medical expenses. Altogether, the minimum amount of PIP coverage is $40,000 per person, per accident.
Liability coverage pays for damages to another person's vehicle when an accident is your fault. Therefore, if the other driver is at fault, you can make a claim against that person's liability coverage, but only after you exhaust on your PIP benefits. The minimum amounts of liability coverage are:
Underinsured coverage pays for medical claims when the other driver is held responsible for the accident and does not have enough liability coverage to cover your medical claims. The minimum requirements are: (1) $25,000 for injuries to one person and (2) $50,000 for injures to two or more people.
Uninsured coverage is used when you've exhausted your PIP benefits and when the other driver who is at fault is not covered by insurance. The minimum requirements are the same as the underinsured coverage: (1) $25,000 for injuries to one person and (2) $50,000 for injures to two or more people.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Minnesota?
Minnesota follows the "no-fault" system when it comes to car accidents and insurance claims. If you're injured in a car accident, you must first turn to your own insurance company for compensation. When you file a claim, your insurance company will conduct an investigation and calculate the damages. The company will either deny your claim or issue you a settlement check. If you disagree with the insurance company, you should first make an appeal to the claims supervisor. If you are unable to resolve a dispute with the company, you can file a complaint with the Department of Commerce. The Department will attempt to solve the issue by investigating your claim.
Under the no-fault system, you cannot directly file a liability claim or a lawsuit against the other driver unless you meet the threshold required by Minnesota law. To step outside of the no-fault system and sue the other driver, your claim must involve the following: (1) medical expenses exceeding $4,000, or (2) permanent injury, permanent scarring or disfigurement, or 60-day period of disability.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Minnesota?
When it comes to compensating an injured person, damages are divided into two categories: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages refer to specific economic costs, while noneconomic damages are less concrete consequences of the injury arising out of the accident, such as pain and suffering. Typical types of car accident damages are car repairs or replacement, medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain, and emotional distress.
Minnesota applies the modified comparative negligence rule when fault is shared among the parties. Under this rule, you can recover damages as long as you are 50 percent or less at fault. The amount of damages will be diminished in proportion to the amount of your fault. However, if you are more at fault than the other driver, you won't be able to recover any damages.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Minnesota?
You have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury and six years for property damage. Be aware that different types of claim have different deadline. Once the deadline passes, courts will deny to hear your case and you won't be able to recover any money damages.
Questions About the Car Accident Settlement Process in Minnesota? Ask a Lawyer
Most car accident cases are settled through an insurance company or during settlement negotiations with the other party. Even if it doesn't go to a court hearing, a car accident claim can easily become complicated. That's why it's a good idea to speak with a local car accident attorney about your situation. Contacting an experienced lawyer early on in your settlement process can help you to resolve the issue faster and smoother.
Contact a qualified attorney.