MINNESOTA PERSONAL INJURY FAQ’S
You may have several questions about the legal issues you are facing. At McCullough and Associates, P.A., we are pleased to offer several informational resources for your convenience that we hope can provide you with additional knowledge. We invite you to review our video blogs, which cover some personal injury case topics. If you have any questions or would like to have a consultation with us, please email or call us.
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PERSONAL INJURY AND ACCIDENT LAW
Our personal injury lawyers take a litigation-based approach to all of our injury cases. We meet with our clients, and whether they were involved in a car accident, slip & fall, or suffered an injury caused by another or any other reason, investigate the facts and prepare as if we are going to trial. Insurance companies know that we are a firm that is not afraid to try a case if necessary. While most personal injury cases settle out of court, our lawyers have the experience to try any injury case. We represent clients in personal injury, car accidents, wrongful death and premises liability claims.
McCullough & Associates, P.A., has experienced and well recognized personal injury law attorneys representing clients in car crashes, bicycle accidents, dog bites, wrongful death actions, slip and falls, premises liability and other insurance claims. Some of the questions that we frequently encounter when a client is deciding to hire a personal injury attorney are:
DO I NEED TO HIRE A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY?
Typically, yes. When you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you will be making a claim against an insurance company. The insurance companies do not treat you like they say they will in commercials. You will be forced to fight for benefits you have already paid a hefty premium for. The insurance company is looking to keep their money, not pay it out. Studies have shown that settlements with clients that are represented are almost three times that of settlements with clients that are not represented.
WHEN SHOULD I HIRE A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY?
You should consult a personal injury attorney at McCullough & Associates, P.A. or another attorney immediately. The insurance company may call you the day of or the day after the accident to request a statement from you. Most often they will request that the statement be recorded. This statement may be used against you at a later date. Furthermore, the insurance company will request that you sign authorizations so that they may obtain information about you. An attorney can determine what the insurance company is and is not entitled to obtain and review. Also, the sooner you hire a personal injury attorney, the sooner witness statements can be obtained and testimony and other evidence preserved. The more time that passes between the accident and contacting the witnesses the more likely it is that the witness may not recall specific facts that would be helpful to your case.
WHAT WILL IT COST TO HIRE A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY?
At McCullough & Associates, P.A., a personal injury attorney’s fees are owed only if there is a recovery.
WHO PAYS FOR MY MEDICAL BILLS AND POTENTIAL WAGE LOSS?
Minnesota is a no-fault state. The state requires that every policy of insurance provide a minimum of $20,000 in medical benefits and up to $20,000 in wage loss benefits. Policies on motorcycles may or may not include no-fault benefits. No-fault means that it does not matter who caused the collision, your own policy of insurance should pay your medical bills and wage loss as long as the bills are reasonable, necessary and related to the injuries sustained in the collision. The benefits are paid first by your own policy of insurance, but if you do not have your own policy, then possibly from the vehicle you were in at the time of the collision, or a family member’s insurance policy, or from insurance covering any vehicle involved in the collision.
If you have stacking on your vehicles you may be entitled to more than the $20,000 minimums.
Oftentimes, your own insurance company will not pay the entire benefits available to you without a fight. Even though they are your own company, they are not working for you. In fact, often times your own insurance company will attempt to obtain a recorded statement from you following the collision that they may or may not use against you at a later date. Because of this, you should contact a personal injury attorney at McCullough & Associates, P.A. or another attorney before providing a statement to any insurance company, even if it is your own.
WILL MY INSURANCE RATES GO UP?
An insurance company may only do so if they provided you with a surcharge disclosure statement when you signed your policy. If your company did so, your rates may only be increased under the specific conditions listed and only by the amounts stated in the disclosure. Some insurers don’t have surcharge plans; some forgive first accidents, tickets, and similar violations; and most companies will vary in the amount of their surcharge.
WILL I HAVE TO SUE ANYONE?
Typically, 8 out of 10 cases will result in settlement before involving the court systems. Of the other 20% that are filed with the court system and headed to a jury trial, 90% of those cases settle prior to reaching a jury verdict. While the attorneys at McCullough & Associates, P.A. are prepared to use litigation as one of many tools to win your case, the ultimate decision to settle is yours. A McCullough & Associates, P.A. personal injury attorney will provide you with recommendations and advice, based on the particular facts of your case, which will allow you to make the best possible decision.
IF I DO HAVE TO FILE SUIT, WHOM WILL I BE SUING?
If the insurance company for the at-fault driver does not make an offer that you are willing to accept, then the next step is to sue the at-fault driver. Although 99% of the time we are dealing directly with the insurance company for the at-fault driver, the law requires that the at-fault driver be named as the defendant. In Minnesota, unlike other states in the region such as Wisconsin, you cannot name the insurance company for the at fault driver. Here at McCullough & Associates, P.A., we are currently working with attorneys from across the state to change this law through legislation. Unfortunately, the insurance companies do not want the law to change.
HOW LONG WILL THE PROCESS TAKE?
It depends. Before discussing settlement with the insurance company, we need to know about all of your injuries and whether or not the doctors believe they are permanent in nature. Typically, doctors will wait for approximately one year before they can determine if the injuries you have experienced will have lasting effects. If all of your injuries are not fully evaluated by the time settlement with the insurance company is reached, your claim may not be evaluated properly. Typically, you have only one chance to settle your claim with the insurance company.