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Minnesota “At-Fault” Claims

The Schmidt-Salita Law Team here is a premier, five-star rated law firm offering quality legal services to the victims of Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, wrongful death, motorcycle accidents, trucking accident, and car-pedestrian accidents.

The Schmidt-Salita Law Team is a group of very experienced Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation 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 before seeking compensation from the At-Fault driver. For more information about how the Minnesota No-Fault law works, click on this link.

The members of the Schmidt-Salita Law Team provide this additional information for you with regard to 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 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.

4.    Death.

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.

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. 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, for example the name of the insurance company listed on the Summons and Complaint.

5. 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.

6. 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.

Minnesota law allows a person who is injured to collect both compensatory damages and punitive damages.

a.    Compensatory damages compensate a person for actual losses. They include the following:

1.    Past and Future medical expenses not paid by No-Fault.

2.    Past and Future loss of earnings and wages resulting from the injury.

3.    Past and Future disability, disfigurement and emotional distress.

b.    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 others.” 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.

If you or a loved one have sustained Personal Injury in a motor vehicle collision or Workers’ Compensation, 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-Salita Law Team for a free consultation with a lawyer to determine whether you have a valid claim.

 

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