A car accident can be a terrifying experience, whether you might have caused the accident or not. Figuring out who is at fault is a concern, but so is making sure you are okay and have received the necessary medical attention. You need to focus on recovering from your injuries. Let the car accident attorneys at Kirshbaum Injury Law take care of your case. They will talk with the insurance companies in the aftermath of your auto accident and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Minnesota has long, cold, difficult winters that produce large amounts of snowfall. It probably comes as no surprise, therefore, that dangerous road conditions are among the most common causes of Minnesota car accidents. Vehicle crashes, including car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents, occur far too frequently on our roads. Snow, sleet, ice, and other winter weather can create hazards for drivers in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Woodbury, and throughout the state.
Other factors that often contribute to motor vehicle accidents may include:
You may be able to drive Minnesota’s roads for years and never get into an auto accident. Unfortunately, nearly everyone who drives long enough will be involved in a car crash at some point in their lives. Most of these accidents will be minor, hopefully resulting in very little property damage and no personal injuries. Some accidents, however, can be severe and cause permanent injuries to drivers, passengers, and others.
These are some of the most dangerous, deadliest accidents to occur on Minnesota roads. A head-on accident occurs when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions directly collide with one another. Head-on collisions often occur when one driver crosses the middle line of a road into oncoming traffic. They might have lost control of their vehicle because of road or weather conditions, or they might be driving while distracted or intoxicated.
The front sections of most vehicles manufactured in the past several decades are designed to crumple, which absorbs much of the force of the impact and directs it away from the people inside. Most vehicles also have airbags that deploy upon impact to protect the driver and the front-seat passenger. If one or both vehicles are going too fast, though, the impact can be too much for either vehicle’s safety measures, causing potentially severe or even fatal injuries.
Intersections can be extremely dangerous because of the number of cars attempting to maneuver around one another. T-bone collisions often occur at intersections when one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle. This may occur because a driver failed to yield the right of way while turning left, or because someone ran a red light or stop sign and either hit or was hit by another vehicle.
Serious injuries can result from T-bone collisions since they occur right where drivers or passengers sit. Some vehicles have safety equipment like side-impact beams and side-curtain airbags to reduce the impact on a vehicle’s interior. Again, though, greater speed means more force and the potential for worse injuries.
This is one of the most common types of car accidents. Rear-end collisions occur when a vehicle moving forward hits the rear of the vehicle in front of it. This often happens when vehicles are in stop-and-start traffic and the rear driver is not paying attention. It can also happen when a driver does not notice cars stopped ahead of them, or they are not able to stop because of road conditions or a problem with the vehicle’s brakes.
Many rear-end collisions only cause minor property damage, often known as “fender benders.” that said, you should take any injury from a rear-end collision seriously. Injuries resulting from seemingly minor car accidents, such as whiplash, can be worse than they appear at first.
Merging accidents occur when the side of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle while both are in motion. This may happen when a vehicle is trying to merge into traffic or change lanes. It can result from distracted driving, failure of the merging driver to check their blind spots, or failure of either driver to yield the right of way in certain situations.
The result of a merging accident can be relatively minor, such as if both vehicles are able to recover with only a bit of property damage. Merging accidents can also cause severe injuries, though, especially if one vehicle veers into oncoming traffic or off the road.
Larger passenger vehicles like SUVs tend to have higher centers of gravity. This makes them more vulnerable to rollover accidents. The same is true of commercial trucks and trailers. Rollovers can result from an impact with another vehicle, an attempt to change lanes or make a turn at too high a speed, or various other causes. In the case of large trucks and semi-trailers, improperly-loaded cargo can cause a lack of balance that leads to a rollover accident. Almost any kind of vehicle can roll over if something hits it hard enough or it goes off of the road.
This is among the deadliest kinds of accidents for several reasons. The rolling motion makes the ejection of a vehicle occupant more likely. If a vehicle lands upside-down, it could trap the driver and passengers inside. Large trucks can pose a serious risk to other vehicles on the road, especially if the cargo they are carrying spills out.
A car accident does not have to involve more than one vehicle. A collision with a stationary object can cause injuries that are just as serious as those in other types of accidents. Some single-vehicle accidents result from driver error or misconduct, such as distracted driving or DUI. A single-car crash can also result from factors outside of a driver’s control. Hazardous road conditions or bad weather can affect even the most attentive driver in Minnesota. The same goes for defects in the vehicle itself, such as faulty brakes or steering.
A multi-vehicle accident can involve nearly all of the types of accidents described above. The simplest example of a multi-vehicle accident might begin with a rear-end collision in which one vehicle hits another with enough force to push that vehicle into a third vehicle, which then hits a fourth vehicle, and so on. Far worse combinations are also possible, such as when a driver swerves to avoid a rollover accident, veers into oncoming traffic, and has a head-on collision. The worst multi-vehicle accidents in history have involved up to one hundred cars and trucks, with damages ranging from fatal injuries to minor property damage.
An accident scene can be a chaotic place. While you will need to gather evidence for the insurance companies, your first priority should be safety.
Emergency responders can secure the accident scene and make sure anyone with serious injuries receives medical attention. Be sure to let them know about any injuries you may have sustained.
Calling 911 can also help with any insurance claims. Insurance companies usually require rather extensive documentation of an accident. The police will prepare a report that you can include in any personal injury claim that you submit.
Seek medical treatment as soon as you can after the accident. You might not have broken bones, spinal cord injuries, or traumatic brain injuries, but not every car accident injury is so obvious right away. The effects of whiplash, for example, can take a day or longer to manifest.
If possible, be sure to exchange insurance and contact information with anyone else involved in the accident. Provide information to the police if requested to do so. You will need all of this information when you file your insurance claim.
If you are able to do so, take pictures of the accident scene, including any property damage that may have occurred. Take photos of all involved vehicles. Take photos of your own injuries to show your condition at the time of the accident. When you feel you are able, write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of the accident, including what happened, when it happened, and where it happened. Write a description of your injuries and how you feel. You might also consider keeping a journal documenting how your medical treatment is progressing.
You must notify your insurance company after the accident. Failing to do so could cause them to deny your claim. Your insurer will have a specific deadline for when you must report the accident to them.
After a car accident, you might have many things on your mind. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could be dealing with doctor and rehabilitation appointments, not to mention worrying about whether you will be able to go back to work. This is also the time when you need to be working on submitting a claim to your car insurance company. It can quickly become overwhelming even if your injuries are fairly minor.
Hiring a personal injury attorney can give you peace of mind after the accident. Insurance companies have their own lawyers and other employees to advocate for their interests. You can have someone on your side to fight back. Benefits that auto accident lawyers can offer include:
Minnesota’s “no-fault” law means that your own auto insurance will compensate you for certain damages regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Every Minnesota driver must carry car insurance that includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage in specific minimum amounts. No-fault damages come from PIP and may cover you, your spouse and children, other family members who are uninsured and living in your home, and any uninsured person who drives your car with your permission.
PIP coverage only pays for certain losses:
Other damages, such as pain and suffering, are not covered by PIP. To recover damages beyond what PIP provides, you must make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. The no-fault law only allows you to do this if you meet one of the following criteria:
Minnesota uses a system of “modified comparative negligence” to determine damages in a claim against an at-fault driver. As long as you are less than fifty percent at fault in the accident, you may recover damages. The total amount will be reduced, however, by your share of fault. Suppose, for example, that you have $50,000 in damages that are not covered by PIP, and a jury finds that you were 25% at fault. Your award of damages would be reduced by 25% to $37,500. If you were found to be 51% at fault, you would receive no damages.
The value of your case is based on numerous factors. The most important of these factors are:
Injuries that will leave you permanently disabled are probably “worth” more than injuries that cause you to miss a few weeks of work.
You may be able to recover two types of damages in an insurance claim or lawsuit after a Minnesota car accident:
Economic damages compensate you for losses that have or will come directly out of your pocket. These may include medical expenses, lost wages, and the cost of rehabilitation and other services. This type of damage is fairly easy to calculate.
Non-economic damages compensate you for losses that are not as easy to measure. They may include:
This type of damage is often highly subjective, with the amounts varying from one car accident case to another.
In most car accident cases, you have a deadline, known as the statute of limitations, by which you must file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, the court will dismiss your case and you will have few other options. The statute of limitations is based on a certain length of time after the accident, with some exceptions:
Since a lawsuit is usually a last resort after you have failed to reach a settlement with an insurance company, you want to get the insurance claim process started as soon as possible.
Kirshbaum Injury Law has more than fifty years of experience advocating for the rights of car accident victims. We represent clients in the Twin Cities area and throughout Minnesota. Please contact us today at (952) 545-2700 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.