MINNESOTA AT FAULT CLAIMS LAWYERS WANT TO HELP UNDERSTAND MINNESOTA NO FAULT LAW.
The Schmidt Law Firm is a premier, five-star rated Law Firm offering quality legal services to the victims of personal injury, wrongful death, and workplace injuries. That includes injuries from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accident, and car-pedestrian accidents.
The Schmidt Law Team at the Schmidt Law Firm is a group of very experienced personal injury and accident lawyers with an equally experienced support staff that is recognized as one of the top Minnesota Law Firms in representing the victims of personal injury in motor vehicle collisions.
Minnesota is a No-Fault state, which means that the victims of personal injury arising in a motor vehicle accident must first seek benefits from their own No-Fault insurance policy report before seeking compensation from the At Fault driver. For more information about how the Minnesota No-Fault law works, click here.
Minneapolis No Fault Injury Lawyer at the Schmidt Salita Law Team provide this additional information for you about how the Minnesota at fault system works:
1. What does my “At-Fault” claim involve?
Simply stated, your At-Fault claim is the claim you have against the another driver that was at fault in causing the collision that resulted in your injuries. The At Fault claim comes into play after the No Fault claim and provides additional benefits above and beyond the No Fault claim.
2. Do you automatically have an At-Fault claim?
No. You do not have an At-Fault claim unless all of the following is true:
1. Someone other than you was at fault in causing your injuries.
2. The at-fault party is more at fault than you.
3. You meet one of the “threshold requirements” under Minnesota law which entitles you to bring an At-Fault claim.
The threshold requirements are as follows:
1. Medical Expenses in excess of $4,000.00.
2. Permanent Disfigurement.
3. Permanent Disability.
5. Disability for 60 days.
3. How is my “At-Fault” claim different from my “No-Fault” claim?
Your At-Fault claim differs from your No-Fault claim in the following respects:
1. The At-Fault claim is brought against the other driver, whereas the No- Fault claim is brought against your own company.
2. You must be able to prove the fault of the other driver in your At-Fault claim, whereas no proof of fault is required in your No-Fault claim.
3. The types of benefits you can collect in your At-Fault claim are totally different from those that you can collect in your No-Fault claim. (For more details in this regard please read the text below.)
4. If you cannot settle your At-Fault claim, your only remedy is to file a lawsuit in District Court. This is different from your No-Fault claim where you have the option of going to No-Fault Arbitration which is faster, less expensive and easier.
4. How do you prove fault in your At-Fault claim?
The injured party must be able to bring forth evidence to prove the fault of the at- fault party, both in the settlement phase and if the case cannot be settled in court in front of the judge and jury.
Proof of fault can be by proof that the at fault driver violated the Minnesota traffic laws. This can be by running a stop sign, exceeding the speed limit, or crossing the center line, or some other violation of Minnesota traffic laws. Violation of a traffic law is called a statutory violation and is considered evidence of fault.
Proof of fault can also be by proof of common law. This can be by proof that the at-fault driver “failed to maintain a proper lookout” or “failed to maintain control” of the vehicle.
In court, the injured party has the burden of proof, meaning the proof must be by a “preponderance of the evidence” (i.e. it was “more likely than not” that the at-fault party was actually “at-fault.”
Proof of fault can be established by the testimony of eye witnesses and “after the fact” witnesses such as accident re-constructionists (experts who are called to testify as to how the accident happened based on skid-marks, damage to the vehicles, and similar evidence.
It is important to consult with an attorney as soon after the accident as possible so that your attorney can collect and save the evidence that will be necessary to prove the fault of the At Fault driver in settlement negotiations and at trial, if the case cannot be settled without trial.
5. Who is the At-Fault claim against?
The At-Fault claim is technically against the at-fault driver who caused the car accident. However, the claim is really against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Minnesota law does not allow the claim to be made directly against the insurance company.
6. What is “comparative fault” and how does it affect my At- Fault claim?
Minnesota is a comparative negligence state, which means the injured person’s fault will be compared against the fault of the party that is primarily at fault. The percentage of fault of the injured party will reduce the amount of money damages that can be collected.
For example, if the jury decides that the at-fault party was 80% at fault and the injured party 20% at fault and the reasonable amount of the damages was
$100,000.00, the judge will reduce the amount that can be collected by the comparative fault of 20%. The final result is that the injured party would collect
$80,000.00 instead of the full $100,000.00.
7. What type of benefits are you entitled to collect in your At- Fault case?
If you’ve been hurt in an automobile accident, you have the right under Minnesota law to collect money damages from the at-fault party.
First of all, you must be able to prove the “At-Fault” party was actually at fault. Further, any amount of fault on your own part will reduce the amount that you can collect.
Minnesota law allows a person who is injured to collect both compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages compensate a person for actual losses. They include the following:
a. Past and Future medical expenses not paid by No-Fault.
b. Past and Future loss of earnings and wages resulting from the injury.
c. Past and Future disability, disfigurement and emotional distress.
Punitive Damages are damages that are intended to punish the at-fault party for conduct that demonstrates a deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others. The term “deliberate disregard” has been defined to mean, the at-fault driver had either “known about facts or intentionally ignored facts that created a high probability of injury…or deliberately acted with conscious or intentional disregard or with indifference to the high probability of injury to the rights or safety of” The best example of a case where punitive damages might be allowed by the court is that of a drunk driver who caused a car accident resulting in personal injury.
8. What amount of money can I collect in my At-Fault claim?
Unlike your No-Fault claim, there is no limit to the amount you can collect in your At-Fault claim. However, under exceptional circumstances, the Judge can reduce the amount if the Judge determines that the jury verdict was excessive.
9. How do I go about trying to settle my At-Fault claim?
In order to get a fair settlement of your At-Fault claim, you need to be able to prove both fault and damages. (See the section above about how to prove fault.)
Proving fault isn’t enough. You must prove the nature and extent of your “damages”, or your losses. In doing so, you must prove at least one of the following:
1. That you have met one of the “tort thresholds”.
2. That you have medical bills in excess of those paid by the No-Fault insurance.
3. That you have wage and earning losses in excess of those paid by the No- Fault
4. That you have permanent injury or disfigurement
The insurance company for the at- fault driver will typically require much supporting documentation, including copies of the medical bills, payroll records and tax returns to prove wage and earning losses, narrative medical reports from your doctors confirming the nature and extent of your permanent injury or disfigurement.
The assistance of a lawyer is usually very important in collecting the necessary documentation and making a demand for settlement that will be respected by the insurance company so that a fair settlement results. Further, the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney can help you to determine how much is fair.
10. What are your rights if the At-Fault party’s insurance company either denies the claim or doesn’t offer a reasonable settlement?
If you cannot settle with the insurance company for a reasonable amount, your remedy is to “file suit”. That means suing the at-fault party and taking them to court.
The law requires all car accident claims must go to mediation or some other form of “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR). A high percentage of personal injury claims resulting from car accidents or other motor vehicle collision are settled at mediation.
If your case cannot be settled through mediation (or other form of ADR), then the last option is court or a jury trial. Even if your case did not settle at mediation, the option of settlement before trial, or even during trial, remains available.
11. How is the value of a personal injury case determined?
The “fair market value” of a personal injury case is determined by what juries do in similar cases. Insurance companies know that if a settlement cannot be reached, the case will be decided by a jury and their estimate of what an average jury will award in similar cases is what they use to determine how much to offer in settlement.
Just as the value of your home is decided by looking at similar sales of similar houses in similar neighborhoods, the “fair market value” of personal injury cases is decided by looking at jury decisions in similar cases. An experienced personal injury lawyer keeps track of what juries are doing in similar cases and uses that knowledge to determine the “fair market value” of any personal injury claim.
12. How much is my case worth?
The value of a personal injury case depends on many factors.
First, the degree of fault of the responsible party must be considered. The more fault, the better the case.
Secondly, the amount of fault of the injured person must be considered.
Thirdly, the severity of the injury and pain, amount of permanent disability, amount of the medical bills, lost wages, and other items of damages must be considered.
Finally, the financial ability of the at-fault party to pay must be considered. In most cases, this is determined by the amount of insurance coverage. For example, it is very difficult to get a $100,000 settlement from a party with only $30,000 of insurance.
However, in cases in which the injury claim has a value above the amount of the insurance coverage of the At Fault driver, your “Underinsured Motorist Coverage”
(UIM coverage) will provide payment of that part of your claim that is in excess of the At Fault driver’s insurance coverage. NOTE: The assistance of an attorney who is experienced in automobile insurance matters is very important to preserve your UIM claim. If the settlement against the At Fault driver is not done properly, you can lose your rights to collect UIM benefits.
If you or a loved one have sustained personal injury in a motor vehicle collision, whether car, truck, motorcycle crash or pedestrian injury as the result of the negligence or fault of another person, please feel free to call the Schmidt Law Firm for a free consultation with a lawyer to determine whether you have a valid claim. LINK HERE to home page.
The Schmidt Law Team provides personal injury and wrongful death legal services to the entire State of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnetonka, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Eden Prairie, Bloomington, Burnsville, Apple Valley, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Osseo, Savage, Shakopee and others. It provides specialty expertise in traumatic brain injuries (concussion injuries), neck and back injuries, and amputation injuries.