Most people assume they know what to do if they get into a car accident. The reality is that preparation often goes out the window.
If you are lucky enough to be uninjured, you will probably feel confused, disoriented, and anxious. Between finding a place to pull over, sharing insurance information, talking to the police, and going about your day, it can be overwhelming.
If you are hurt, it will be even worse. You may be transported to the hospital and spend the coming weeks recovering and in doctor’s appointments. With all this going on, you may forget that there is a deadline to file your car accident case.
The Purpose of a Statute of Limitations
The “statute of limitations” is the legal term for the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit, including a car accident claim.
The purpose of the statute of limitations is to protect a defendant’s rights. When you accuse someone of negligently causing a car crash, they have a right to defend themselves. If too much time passes between the accident and the lawsuit, it will make it more difficult or nearly impossible.
For example, the defendant may lose access to important evidence like:
- Video recording
- Physical evidence
Both sides deserve to have access to evidence and information to make the best legal case in their favor. Ultimately, the judge or jury will decide who prevails. The statute of limitations ensures that this process is fair for everyone.
Differences Between a Car Accident Lawsuit and an Insurance Claim
It is important to remember that there is a difference between a car accident lawsuit and an insurance claim. When you get into a car accident, usually the first step is to file an insurance claim.
No-Fault Car Insurance Claim
Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state. That means everyone with a car registered in Minnesota must have a no-fault insurance policy. When you get into a car accident, you will file a claim with your insurance company before asking for payment from the other driver.
You must typically file a no-fault claim within six months of the collision.
In general, your no-fault insurance policy will cover:
- Medical expenses
- 85% of past and future lost income
- Funeral expenses (in a wrongful death car accident case)
- Replacement services
- Survivors benefits
This does not include payment for property damage, including damage to your car or other possessions in a crash.
If your no-fault insurance policy doesn’t cover all your damages, you can ask for further compensation under the other driver’s liability insurance.
Car Accident Lawsuit
Sometimes the other driver won’t have liability insurance, or the insurance won’t cover all of your expenses. In these cases, you have the right to file a car accident lawsuit for the remainder.
A car accident lawsuit is a formal personal injury case that is filed in court. Once you file the lawsuit, the defendant will answer your complaint, and the process will begin. This includes going through the discovery process, formal negotiations, and potentially a trial.
A car accident lawsuit can take much longer to resolve than a car insurance claim. It’s best to try and get insurance companies to pay your full damages so you can avoid court.
Do I Need a Lawyer To File My Car Accident Claim in Minneapolis?
It’s prudent to hire a Minneapolis car accident lawyer to file your claim. Whether it’s an insurance claim or a formal lawsuit, you’ll benefit from having a lawyer on your side.
Your lawyer can help you navigate confusing insurance procedures and negotiate with difficult insurance companies.
If it gets to the point of a lawsuit, you’ll need an attorney to file the complaint and help you through complex court procedures. While some people may choose to represent themselves, this is rarely a good idea – especially if you are focused on healing from severe injuries.
Contact the Minnesota Car Accident Law Firm of Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys For Help Today
For more information, please contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Edina.