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St. Paul Car Accident Attorneys

Experienced Minnesota Car Accident Lawyers

Car accidents are as American as apple pie, and in 2008 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that about 5.8 million police-reported traffic accidents occurred throughout the country’s roads. That same year, AAA reported that car accidents alone cost Americans about $164.2 billion every year.

More locally, in Minnesota, the numbers are just as bleak. In 2015, there were 74,772 reported traffic accidents brought to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. That same year 411 people died in Minnesota, and 29,981 people were injured in car accidents. The 411 traffic fatalities in 2015 was a 13.9 percent increase from the previous year, and with these numbers likely to continue to rise, there are clear indications that traffic fatalities throughout Minnesota have become an epidemic.

The fact is Minnesota has struggled to lower these incidents. There have been successes over the years. There are fewer crashes involving speeding with better monitoring. A lack of seat belts related to fatalities has dropped 14 percent with increased education and awareness. Obviously, there is still more work to do.

With these numbers in mind, it’s safe to say you have been or will be involved in a car accident throughout your lifetime. This page aims to help everyone throughout the entire process that goes with any car crash incident. Some of the things we’ll be talking about will include common causes of car accidents, how car accident cases work, determining who is at fault, auto insurance’s role, and recovering damages from multiple defendants. 

Common Causes of St Paul Car Accidents

It’s safe to say one of the most common causes of all accidents out on the road is because of the actions of one or more drivers driving recklessly or with negligence. When a car accident does occur, the police will have to decipher which driver was at fault, mainly by finding out who broke a law or rule.

Negligent driving is defined differently in every state. In general, it means that someone failed to be reasonably careful and did something that the average person would know could harm another driver. Some common examples of negligent driving include ignoring speed limits, failing to signal when turning, DUI, disobeying traffic signals, distracted driving, failing to drive safely in poor weather, etc.

There are many other causes besides a driver’s specific actions that cause accidents all of the time. These causes are just as important to recognize when out on the road. Some of the more common examples of these would be things like a defect in a vehicle, a defective surface of the road, or traffic signals/signs that aren’t clearly visible or are malfunctioning.

[What do I do if I’m injured by an Uber or Lyft driver?]

Common Injuries Associated with St. Paul Car Accidents

Car accidents can result in a variety of different types of injuries, ranging from minor to severe or life-threatening. A minor injury can still result in thousands of dollars in debt. A severe injury, however, can land someone with hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in medical costs over the span of their life.

The severity of one’s injury depends on the type of accident they’re involved in. For example, T-bone accidents are associated more frequently with severe injuries than rear-end accidents are and collisions with commercial trucks tend to be worse than collisions with smaller vehicles.

The most common types of car accident injuries include the following:

How St Paul Car Accident Cases Work

The combination of personal injury and traffic law is what is used when dealing with car accident law. Anyone who ends up getting injured in an auto accident can, of course, hire an attorney to help negotiate with the other parties involved in the accident to determine who is at fault and who should pay for the damages.

If these negotiations don’t go well, it may be necessary for your attorney to file a car accident lawsuit. That’s where things will get more complicated. A judge will piece together everything that happened in your specific case by utilizing photos, police reports, and other evidence. For example, they can reference your social media posts after a car accident, in addition to more traditional types of evidence.

Then, they will analyze the local traffic laws and legal concepts to make their decision about who is at fault. The at-fault party will likely have to compensate the other party for any medical and property expenses. They may also be responsible for other expenses like pain and suffering and lost wages.

This part of the process can be a lot easier said than done because both drivers can be partly at fault for any car accident. Each state holds different rules in these situations, especially when more than one person is responsible for the crash.

Auto Insurance’s Role in Car Accident Cases

Car insurance is always required in every state, and drivers everywhere must carry some kind of minimum amount of liability insurance. Insurance does make a big difference when it comes to injured people receiving compensation, but of course, it’s not always a guarantee you’ll get the amount that you need.

Before an insurance company will reward a claim, they’ll go through an elaborate investigation process to determine the cause of the auto accident. For minor accidents, insurance companies will be the only ones doing any real investigating. The police always get involved in other, more serious accidents, especially those involving death.

It’s a very fortunate aspect of these unfortunate circumstances that most people won’t have to pay for everything when it comes to damages that stem from automobile collisions. Car insurance will help you pay for at least a significant portion of damages and replacement costs to your property for all parties involved, and they’ll pay at least a portion of medical expenses also.

Determining Fault in a St. Paul Car Accident Case

To determine fault in Minnesota, you must be able to prove the following:

  • The at-fault party owed a certain duty of care to the victim. In car accident cases, this is easy. By getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, all drivers assume this duty of care. It’s their duty to drive safely to protect others and themselves from accidents.
  • There was a breach of the duty of care. For example, if a driver were texting, driving while intoxicated, or speeding, this would be a clear breach of their duty as a driver.
  • As a result of the breach, an accident occurred that caused your injuries. Simply put, this is called causation. You must be able to link the breach to your injuries. This is why it’s so important to seek immediate medical attention after an auto accident. If you don’t, insurance adjusters may claim that these two are not connected.
  • And finally, you must be able to prove that there are damages associated with your injuries and the accident. This can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Most states have different rules when it comes to deciding which party in an accident must pay all the bills. Many times, when both or all parties are responsible for the crash, the parties will split the expenses in an appropriate amount that equals each party’s amount of fault.

St. Paul No-Fault Car Insurance Rule

Many have heard of the no-fault system but don’t fully understand its meaning. For example, say you have a fender-bender in St. Paul. With this, you have to turn everything over to your own insurance company. This happens regardless of who is at fault. Many car accidents are minor and handled with little legal intervention. With no significant injuries or issues, the insurance company settles the claim.

Exceptions to No-Fault

There are exceptions that allow a liability claim or personal injury lawsuit. In Minnesota, one must meet one of two requirements:

1) The medical expenses must total more than $4,000 after the crash.

2) A liability claim or personal injury lawsuit is within legal rights if the victim suffered a permanent injury, permanent scarring, or disfigurement. A 60-day period of disability is also a reasonable exception. If there one or both of these occur, the door for legal options opens.

Minnesota Statute of Limitations

This is something many don’t consider when considering legal options. However, this is important. In the state of Minnesota, a person only has a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit. This time period starts from the date of the accident. If this time runs out, then a person has lost the ability to bring a claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Car Accident Claims When You Are Partially at Fault

Many times the blame for the car accident gets decided in court. The person at fault pays for the costs, including medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repair, and any pain or suffering caused by the auto accident. However, many times the court reveals that the plaintiff, the person bringing the case, is partially at fault.

This does happen sometimes. When it does, Minnesota has a modified comparative fault rule. This comes into play when the court decides both parties share some fault for the accident. For example, a jury finds the plaintiff 30 percent responsible for the crash. This means the plaintiff will still receive 70 percent of the total calculated damages.

If the fault is found below 50 percent, the plaintiff receives some damages. However, if both parties are found 50 percent responsible, or the plaintiff is found over 50 percent responsible, the plaintiff receives no damages. This rule is different from many other states. Many other states reward some damages even if both parties are equally responsible.

Recovering Damages from Multiple Defendants 

There can be many situations in which there are multiple defendants in a car accident case, and that’s because construction companies, municipal governments, reckless drivers, car manufacturers, and all sorts of people can be partially to blame for an accident occurring.

An experienced car accident attorney will make sure that the plaintiff has pressed charges against all potential parties that are responsible for the auto accident. This is mainly because a plaintiff only has one chance to obtain compensation for damages/injuries. If a car accident victim only sues one party when they could have sued more, then they are losing out on an opportunity to build another lawsuit against those at fault.

What usually happens when there are multiple defendants is that a jury will apportion out a certain percentage of fault, as we described above in the previous section. Many times the plaintiff’s own culpability will be evaluated during this process as well. When the plaintiff is partially at fault but is less at fault than the defendants, it’s the defendants’ liability that is reduced and allocated proportionately.

Joint and Several Liability and Car Accident Claims

Minnesota is a state that follows the joint and several liability doctrines, which state that defendants are jointly and severally liable if their actions concurrently brought about a victim’s injuries.

This means that a plaintiff can seek to recover their full value of damages/injuries from any party at fault, no matter how much that party is at fault as compared to the other defendants, and then it’s on that defendant party to seek out the contribution from the other parties who have also been found at fault.

An example of this would be when a construction company is partly to blame for an accident occurring because their signs weren’t visible to a drunk/reckless driver who then created an accident with the plaintiff. With the ‘joint and several liability’ doctrine, a plaintiff can seek full retribution for their damages from the construction company, who would then have to seek contribution from the drunk/reckless driver.

Types of Damages You Can Recover After a St. Paul Car Accident

After a car accident, you’ll likely be left with high medical bills, lost wages, and other auto accident damages that can seem impossible to pay back. When you file a St. Paul car accident lawsuit, you’re asking the at-fault party’s insurance company to provide you with adequate compensation for those damages.

There are two common categories of damages in car accident lawsuits, economic and non-economic. Economic damages include things like:

  • Medical bills
    • Surgery
    • Ambulance rides
    • Doctor/specialist visits
    • Prescriptions
    • In-home care
    • Physical therapy
    • Medical equipment
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity

Non-economic damages, however, are more abstract. They account for things like pain and suffering. To evaluate your non-economic damages, we’ll look at how much your quality of life has changed since the accident. If you’ve experienced a great change to your quality of life, you’ll receive compensation that reflects that.

Contact an Experienced St. Paul Car Accident Attorney

People don’t think about how fast a St. Paul motor vehicle accident happens. One minute, you are driving home after work. In less than a second, everything changes. They are terrifying and frustrating to deal with.

Luckily, many auto accidents occur with no extreme property damage or personal injury. They end up scaring drivers more than hurting them. However, do you know your legal rights when this isn’t the case? With such statistics, it is obvious why your legal rights need to be understood.

Having a car accident isn’t inevitable. However, there is an obvious possibility of it happening. If you or a loved one has suffered an accident, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Don’t let time run out. Contact the award-winning car accident lawyers at Sand Law and let us help you decide what legal options are available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do after a St. Paul car accident?

Your health should take precedence in the aftermath of a St. Paul car accident so get to safety and call 911 before doing anything else. If possible, try to help anyone else involved if your injuries allow and it does not put you in danger.

Make sure you exchange contact information, insurance, and driver’s licenses with the other driver but do not admit fault. This includes not apologizing since saying you are sorry can be considered an admission of fault and do harm to a future car accident claim.

Getting some pictures and video of the accident scene is also useful. Your personal injury lawyer use this as evidence to prove fault in a future claim. You also will need to contact your insurance after your accident to inform them of what occurred. If you are considering filing a car accident claim then contact a St. Paul car accident lawyer.

How much is a car accident settlement worth? 

Your car accident settlement’s value depends on the damages you have suffered. These damages change from case to case since the people involved will suffer different injuries that can cause different financial losses in their lives.

In order to calculate the potential value of your car accident claim it is recommended you do not use one of the many settlement calculators you can find online. Instead, seek the expertise of a car accident attorney.

Settlement calculators provide estimates that do not take into account the many nuances and details of a case. A car accident lawyer will have real experience with cases similar to yours and will be able to provide more realistic expectations.

How long will my car accident claim take?

Every car accident claim is different which also means each car accident case will take different lengths of time to be resolved. The many variables that affect this time prevent blanket statements about the proposed time to attain a settlement. It is best to expect your claim to take more rather than less time.

You may get a settlement offer quickly but these tend to be much lower than you need to realistically cover your damages. Negotiations take time and the insurance company knows claimants have pressure on them to attain a settlement and will leverage this. In some cases, they may even go so far as to refuse to settle and force a car accident lawsuit with a trial that can take even longer

Car accident lawyers can help to stop these tactics. Your St. Paul car accident lawyer sends a message that your case is to be taken seriously and that underhanded strategies will be met with the support of a firm that can match these companies at their own game.

Why should I hire a St. Paul car accident lawyer?

It is possible to represent yourself but it is no secret that electing to do so rarely is met with success. Handling a car accident claim on your own while recuperating can be a demanding burden but also can lead to easy mistakes and the insurance company taking advantage of your inexperience.

A car accident lawyer does more than just advise you and represent you in court. They are a resource and advocate for your rights. They are an ally invested in the outcome of your case and can level the playing field with insurance companies eager to lowball settlements or even deny your claim.

Hiring a car accident lawyer provides you with services and resources that can give your claim the necessary edge it needs to get you a fair settlement. Your attorney will investigate your case, gather evidence, negotiate on your behalf, and navigate the nuances of policy and procedure that can catch the inexperienced unaware.

Why choose Sand Law for your St. Paul car accident lawyer?

Sand Law has established itself in St. Paul Minnesota by providing diligent and aggressive legal representation to car accident victims throughout the city. Our efforts have built a reputation of empathy and success when it comes to helping injured car accident victims get the settlements they need to get their lives back on track.

Sand Law’s accomplishments and client testimonials speak to what our firm is capable of and how you can benefit from our assistance. Your St. Paul car accident lawyer is more than just help hired to win your claim. We are directly invested in the outcome and see clients as more than just numbers and names but people. Our team will work with you to make things right after a motor vehicle collision.