Minnesota uses no-fault auto insurance. Under this system, your auto insurance policy will cover many of your losses after a minor car accident. These benefits cover up to $20,000 in medical expenses and $20,000 in income losses and other costs.
Nonetheless, you may still need a car accident lawyer after a minor crash in Minneapolis. In many of these situations, a lawyer can help you get the maximum benefits from your policy and seek additional compensation from the at-fault driver’s policy.
Minnesota’s No-Fault System
During the 1960s, auto liability insurance premiums skyrocketed in large cities like Boston and New York City. Additionally, courts often saw dockets packed with car accident lawsuits.
States like Massachusetts, Florida, and Minnesota switched to a no-fault insurance system to address these problems. Under a no-fault system, car owners must buy personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in their auto insurance policies.
After a crash in Minnesota, each injured person files a claim with the insurer for the car they were in. The specific process is as follows:
- Drivers file a claim with the insurer for the car they drove
- Passengers file a claim with the insurer for the car they rode in
- Pedestrians and cyclists file a claim with the insurer for the car that hit them
This no-fault system eliminates the need to identify and pursue the at-fault driver in a minor accident.
Exceptions to the No-Fault System
The no-fault system was designed to reduce the number of car accident lawsuits. But Minnesota law allows individuals to step outside the no-fault system and file a claim against the at-fault driver when the accident victim:
- Incurs more than $4,000 in medical expenses for treatment
- Suffers permanent disfigurement or injury, or disability for 60 days or more
Your no-fault benefits only cover economic losses. However, the compensation you can seek in an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver can cover both economic and non-economic losses. This means that you can pursue compensation for all the ways your injuries damaged your quality of life due to pain, suffering, and disability.
When You Should Consider Hiring a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident
You should always consider hiring a car accident attorney to manage and pursue your injury claim. But in certain situations, you may need a car accident lawyer to address a specific issue.
No Auto Insurance
If you do not have car insurance, you have violated Minnesota law and forgone the benefits you could get from PIP coverage. But more importantly, you risk giving the at-fault driver an argument for reducing the compensation you might recover for your injuries.
Minnesota does not have a “no pay, no play” law. Under the version of this law used in other states, an uninsured motorist cannot pursue injury compensation from the driver who caused the crash.
Since Minnesota does not subscribe to this concept, an uninsured driver can still pursue a claim against the at-fault driver in a crash. But you should expect the at-fault driver and insurer to throw everything possible at you, including your uninsured status, to fight your claim. A lawyer can evaluate your case such that you know what the law entitles you to.
No Health Insurance or High-Deductible Health Insurance
If you have no health insurance or high-deductible health insurance, your medical expenses could add up quickly after even a minor car crash. Remember that you can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver as soon as your medical treatment costs cross the $4,000 threshold.
Even a minor crash can cause serious injuries. Serious injuries exempt you from the no-fault system regardless of whether you cross the $4,000 threshold. But the categories of serious injuries given in the Minnesota no-fault statute can be difficult to interpret.
You may need a lawyer to analyze whether your accident caused permanent disfigurement, permanent injury, or disability for 60 days or more.
The At-Fault Driver Accuses You of Causing the Crash
If the other driver or their insurer accuses you of causing the crash, you might need a lawyer to fight them. If they can make it stick, this accusation releases the other driver of any liability for your losses. More importantly, it could put you on the hook to pay for the other driver’s losses.
Your Claim Was Denied
Insurers have a financial incentive to avoid paying your claim and will often use technical grounds to deny it. They also might delay your claim so that you become frustrated enough to settle for less than full value. They will make low settlement offers to try to minimize their costs.
A lawyer can guide you through these tactics and fight the insurer for fair compensation in your case.
Hiring a Lawyer To Help After a Minor Car Accident in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Most car accident attorneys offer free consultations to prospective clients. After a minor car accident, you should consider meeting with a lawyer to discuss your options. A lawyer might suggest that you handle your no-fault claim on your own.
Conversely, the lawyer could find that you will not recover enough compensation to fully make up for your losses. You may want to engage a lawyer to represent your interests and advocate for your rights when this happens. Even in a minor car accident, you could recover significant compensation.
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.