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Lawsuits & Litigation

When Should You Settle a Minneapolis Car Accident Suit?

— July 13, 2022

You’ll want to get a lawyer involved sooner rather than later as they need to investigate the crash, going beyond the facts described in the police report.

Minneapolis, MN – In 2020, 394 people were killed in a traffic accident in Minnesota, up 8% from 2019. At the same time, more than 20,000 people were injured. According to state statistics, 1,310 people sustained severe, life-changing injuries. The financial losses topped $1.6 billion.

Most people involved in a serious crash are quite clueless when it comes to figuring out how much their claim may be worth or how to go about recovering damages. On top of that, Minnesota is one of the few no-fault states in the country and although this doctrine was meant to make recovery easier, in many cases things are quite complicated. 

As a rule, if you’re involved in a serious accident, schedule a free consultation with reliable Minneapolis accident lawyers and see what they make of your case – should you settle or should you go to trial?

How does the no-fault doctrine impact accident claims?

Under the no-fault rule, all drivers in Minnesota must carry a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. According to the law, the minimum PIP coverage is $20,000 for medical expenses and $20,000 for lost wages.

If you’re injured in an accident, you have to notify your insurance company as soon as possible and you can get money even if you were partly or totally to blame for the accident. This can be helpful as it saves you a lot of hassle, but unfortunately, it only works if you have sustained minor injuries. 

For instance, if you escape with some cuts and bruises or a minor neck injury, those $20,000 may cover your medical expenses. You’ll probably be able to go back to work in a couple of weeks, so the lost wages won’t be a problem either. In such a case, you should not bother with hiring a lawyer and you can settle with the insurance company.

What to do if your damages exceed your PIP?

Model of a spine
Model of a spine; image courtesy of jochenpippir via Pixabay,

If you sustain severe injuries such as brain trauma, spine damage, internal bleeding, or burns, there’s no chance you can pay your medical bills with $20,000. You should turn to experienced Minnesota accident lawyers for advice.

This doesn’t mean you’ll have to go to trial. Contrary to common belief, much of a lawyer’s work doesn’t happen in a courtroom. Accident lawyers who deal with personal injury and wrongful death claims spend most of their time investigating the crash to determine who was to blame and negotiating with insurance companies.

If you file a personal injury claim against the other driver, the no-fault rule doesn’t apply anymore. To seek damages from someone you have to prove that they were at fault. Your attorneys will have to show that the other driver was negligent and your injuries were directly caused by their actions.

You’ll want to get a lawyer involved sooner rather than later as they need to investigate the crash, going beyond the facts described in the police report. They’ll have to visit the crash scene, establish road and weather conditions, talk to eyewitnesses, check surveillance cameras or conduct an accident reconstruction. If you were involved in a truck accident, they must also subpoena the trucking company for documents on the driver’s schedule and maintenance reports. Any delay can result in important evidence vanishing which will make it more difficult to prove that the other party bears responsibility for the crash.

At the same time, your lawyers will calculate how much your case is worth, looking at your past losses but also any future losses. For instance, you may need special care in the future and these costs must be included in your compensation. Once the claim is settled, you cannot go back and ask for money for additional surgery or rehabilitation programs. 

Your lawyers will negotiate with the insurance company representing the other party. This may take months and it’s an arduous process, but most claims are usually settled out of court. Your case will go to trial only if a settlement is not possible or if your lawyers feel you may be entitled to get punitive damages as well as compensatory damages.

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