The harm caused by a drunk driver is one of the most unsettling of all kinds of personal injuries. The thought of an innocent person suffering serious or fatal injury at the hands of an irresponsible individual can evoke outrage among members of the community.
At Hall Law, our Minneapolis drunk driving accident attorneys aggressively pursue claims against irresponsible drinkers and the bars, nightclubs, and restaurants that improperly serve them.
Although the law can never replace a loved one or undo an injury, it can provide necessary compensation to help individuals recover from the harms and losses they have endured.
Minneapolis Drunk Driving Accident Legal Resources:
- What are Dram Shop Laws?
- Does Minnesota Have Dram Shop Laws?
- Is Minnesota a No-Fault State
- Is It Always the Drunk Driver’s Fault in an Accident?
- How Can a Drunk Driving Injury Lawyer Hold Responsible Parties Accountable?
- What Damages Can I Recover After Injuries From a Drunk Driver?
- What Is The Time Limit to File a Drunk Driving Accident Claim in Minnesota?
- How Much Does a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Minneapolis Charge?
- What Can I Do If a Family Member Was Killed in a Drunk Driving Accident?
- Contact Our Experienced Drunk Driving Injury Attorneys
What are Dram Shop Laws?
Dram shop laws are designed to hold businesses and individuals liable for serving visibly intoxicated or underage persons who go on to cause death or injury to another. In other words, if an individual or business serves more alcohol to someone who is obviously drunk or underage, they can be held partially responsible for any harm the intoxicated person causes. This includes drunk driving accidents but also instances of assault, fights, injuring themselves, unintentionally hurting others, etc.
Does Minnesota Have Dram Shop Laws?
Minnesota, like many other states, has dram shop laws. Liability may be imposed on the sellers of alcoholic beverages if they sell to persons under the legal drinking age or to those who are obviously intoxicated. Thus, a liquor store, bar, or restaurant may be responsible for any damages resulting from personal injuries caused by a person’s drinking – if alcohol was sold to an underage person or to a person who was obviously intoxicated. (Minn. Stat._§ 340A.801)
For example, suppose an individual stops at a bar and stays for a few drinks. When they try to order another from the waitress, bartender, etc. they are slurring their words, stumbling, and spilling the drink they do have. Still, the waitress brings the person another cocktail. When the intoxicated individual leaves the bar, they run into another patron, accidentally causing them to fall down a flight of stairs. The patron who fell down the stairs can sue the intoxicated individual who caused their fall, but also the bar for over-serving.
Dram shop claims also commonly arise from drunk driving accidents. When an overserved individual chooses to drive and crashes into another vehicle, causing property damage, injuries, or a death, the bar, liquor store, or another licensed vendor that illegally sold the drunk driver alcohol may be liable.
Is Minnesota a No-Fault State
Minnesota is a “no-fault state,” which means a drunk driving accident victim must first file a claim under their own auto insurance policy. No-fault insurance, also referred to as personal injury protection (PIP), is included in every policy. This type of coverage means that regardless of who caused the accident, you will have a minimum of $40,000 in coverage divided into $20,000 for medical bills and $20,000 for non-medical expenses. You may also be able to utilize uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance and any additional coverage you purchased. In addition, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable parties to recover further compensation. However, to file a lawsuit, the collision must have resulted in either $4,000 in reasonable medical expenses, a permanent injury or disfigurement, or disability lasting at least 60 days.
Is It Always the Drunk Driver’s Fault in an Accident?
When a drunk driver causes an accident, it is easy to assume they are completely at fault. However, Minnesota uses a modified comparative negligence system. Under this rule, each driver is assigned a percentage of fault for the collision based on the evidence. As a result, a drunk driver may not always be entirely to blame. As long as you are found less than 50% responsible, you can recover compensation for your injuries. For example, if you suffered $50,000 in damages, but a jury finds you 30% at fault, you would only be able to recover $35,000 from the other party. If you are found 51% or more to blame, you cannot recover anything.
How Can a Drunk Driving Injury Lawyer Hold Responsible Parties Accountable?
Once you hire an attorney, they will make sure the responsible party is held accountable by taking a number of actions on your behalf, such as:
- Investigating and documenting the accident to collect evidence of fault.
- Collecting photos and videos of the accident and aftermath.
- Seeking surveillance footage of the defendant (at-fault party) purchasing alcohol.
- Gathering receipts of alcohol purchases and phone records if necessary.
- Interviewing witnesses at the accident and locations where the defendant purchased and/or consumed alcohol.
- Determining all parties that can be held responsible.
- Accurately estimating your losses after gathering documentation on your injuries, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
- Ensuring the at-fault party’s insurance company treats you fairly and negotiating a fair settlement agreement.
- Pursuing a lawsuit in court if a settlement cannot be reached.
The aftermath of a drunk driving accident can be devastating and may mean a lengthy recovery. A drunk driving accident lawyer will have the experience and resources necessary to protect your rights and ensure you recover the damages you are entitled to. Damages is a legal term referring to the compensation victims can recover from an at-fault party when they suffer an injury in a preventable accident.
What Damages Can I Recover After Injuries From a Drunk Driver?
The types of damages potentially available after a drunk driving accident include economic, non-economic, and possibly punitive damages.
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future lost income
- Diminished earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
A type of compensation that is only awarded in cases involving extreme recklessness, which is why it is commonly pursued in drunk driving accident cases.
The drunk driver can be sued for negligence under the general laws of negligence, but often the drunk driver is either uninsured or underinsured and has few, if any, assets. However, a drunk driving accident lawyer can help victims exhaust all options for recovering compensation. Even if there is no way to pursue recovery against the drunk driver, there may be a way to pursue recovery against the person or business that provided the alcoholic beverage(s) to the drunk driver.
What Is The Time Limit to File a Drunk Driving Accident Claim in Minnesota?
After a drunk driving accident in Minnesota, victims have two years to file an injury claim under Minnesota Statutes section 541.07. This law is referred to as the statute of limitations, and this allotted period generally begins on the date the accident occurred. The state also allows claimants six years to file a lawsuit related to property damage. However, these deadlines do not apply to insurance claims. By law, drivers must “promptly” report an accident to their insurer or “within a reasonable time.” Although those words can leave it up to interpretation, typically, it means within several days to a few weeks, at the most.
Filing a claim relatively soon after a drunk driving accident is usually in your best interests, as evidence can disappear and witnesses’ memories fade. Filing a claim quickly does not mean that you should settle your claim quickly. Waiting to resolve your claim until you fully recover from your injuries or reach “maximum medical improvement” (MMI) will give you a complete understanding of the extent of your losses and the total value of your case.
Deadline for Government Claims
If a Government agency or employee is liable for your drunk driving accident in Minnesota, you must first give notice of the claim within 180 days of the crash. Your notice will be reviewed then a determination will be made on whether it should be paid.
Deadline for Wrongful Death Claims
If the drunk driving accident resulted in a loved one’s death, surviving family members or next of kin can pursue a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death lawsuits must often be filed within three years of the victim’s death.
How Much Does a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Minneapolis Charge?
Most drunk driving accident lawyers in Minneapolis, including Hall Law, operate on a contingency fee basis. What that means is that our firm will pay for the legal fees upfront and will only be paid for our services if your claim settles, or you are awarded damages at trial. If you do not win, there are no fees. Ultimately, this is an ideal scenario for both drunk driving accident lawyers and victims. You do not have to worry about more bills while the case is ongoing, and your attorney will be focused on winning rather than tracking the hours spent on your case. A contingency fee will generally be around 33.3% of the compensation you recover, but it can vary by firm. For example, if you receive $100,000, approximately $33,000 would go to your attorney.
What Can I Do If a Family Member Was Killed in a Drunk Driving Accident?
Few things in life are more painful than the unexpected loss of a loved one, especially if they are only gone because of someone else’s negligence in a drunk driving accident. First, it may be helpful to seek trauma support for the devastating loss, then contact a Minnesota Wrongful Death Lawyer as soon as possible. Although no amount of money can compensate for a loved one’s death, a wrongful death lawyer can help you hold the at-fault party accountable and get justice. They will have your family’s best interests in mind at this devastating time and will fight on your behalf.
A wrongful death claim can be filed by a deceased victim’s spouse or next of kin, but they must first petition the court to appoint a trustee, who will pursue the lawsuit. The types of compensation available include:
- Medical bills related to the drunk driving accident which led to your loved one’s death.
- Funeral, cremation, or burial expenses.
- Loss of the victim’s expected income and benefits.
- Estate administration expenses.
- The surviving children reduction in inheritance.
- Loss of parental guidance, support, services, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice that the deceased provided.
Other types of compensation may be available as well. A wrongful death lawyer will handle the investigation, gathering evidence, and all communication and negotiations with the insurance company. As a result, you will have peace of mind knowing your case is moving forward, giving you the chance to focus on your family. With their comprehensive understanding of the laws applicable to wrongful death cases and having frequently worked with insurance companies, your attorney will be able to negotiate a fair settlement and ensure the compensation you recover accurately reflects your losses.
Contact Our Experienced Drunk Driving Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, the compassionate and dedicated attorneys at Hall Law can help. We’ve represented people who have been injured in accidents for more than 35 years and have successfully represented clients in numerous drunk driving related cases. Contact our firm to discuss the specifics of your case during a free consultation.
Drunk Driving Accident Reference Materials
Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
If you are injured by a drunk driver you are entitled to file a lawsuit.
The laws of Minnesota and other states include various deadlines for bringing a lawsuit. These deadlines are commonly referred to as “statutes of limitations.” If a lawsuit is not brought within the applicable deadline it may then be prohibited, unless an exception applies. Which deadline applies to a particular lawsuit depends on the jurisdiction and the facts of the case. The best advice is to promptly engage a lawyer to ensure no deadlines are missed.
Individuals are allowed to pursue a legal claim without representation by a lawyer. In practice however, this kind of self-help can be quite difficult, and most people choose to engage the services of a lawyer.
Preserve Your Rights
In all automobile accident cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of an automobile accident involving a drunk driver, contact the attorneys at Hall Law.