Frequently Asked Questions

About Injury Lawyers

Do I need to retain an attorney if I am injured in a motor vehicle accident?

It is generally a good ideal to retain an attorney if you have been injured in an automobile accident. Investigation of accidents at the early stages is paramount to resolving liability issues. Additionally, the Minnesota No­Fault Act requires an individual to satisfy a certain statutory thresholds. An attorney can assist and guide you through this process and let you concentrate on recovering from your injuries.

Why should I talk to an attorney after an automobile accident that injures members of my family or me?

It is generally a good ideal to obtain professional advice concerning all accidents, particularly those involving members of your family. There are priorities of coverage, which need to be investigated and established for the purposes of insuring a complete financial recovery for injuries occasioned by individuals, even family members.

What will it cost me to hire an attorney?

Most attorneys’ handles cases on a contingency fee basis. The standard arrangement is usually 1/3 plus expenses advanced on behalf of a client during the tendency of the action.

How quickly should I contact an attorney?

It is generally a good ideal to contact an attorney as quickly as you can subsequent to an accident. Witnesses need to be interviewed, measurements obtained, photographs obtained and so on. An attorney skilled in the handling of a personal injury cases will handle those matters for you and make certain that your rights are protected and preserved.

About Personal Injury in General

Does it cost anything to consult with an attorney about my potential personal injury claim?
Consultations with our personal injury attorneys are always free. We do not charge injured individuals who consult with us about a potential claim. There is absolutely no financial risk to you in seeking the advice of one of our personal injury attorneys.
What are personal injury cases?
Personal Injury cases involve claims against a negligent (careless) individual or corporation, the result of which causes an innocent party to incur medical expenses, wage loss and pain and suffering.
What if the negligent individual or corporation has no insurance?
These claims are typically very difficult to pursue because there is no easy way to collect any damages that are determined to have been caused by the carelessness of the uninsured party. We would typically recommend doing an asset search to determine whether the negligent party has any means to pay any perspective judgment that is awarded to the injured party.
How long do I have to pursue a claim?
There are various statutes of limitations that apply to personal injury claims. You need to contact an attorney immediately to determine what the appropriate timeline would be for your potential claim. General negligence claims in Minnesota typically are governed by a six­year statute of limitations; however, it is vital that you contact an attorney to solicit information specific to your claim. Failure to pursue your claim within the relevant statute of limitations will result in your claim being forever barred.

About Car Accidents

Can I sue the driver of the vehicle if I am a passenger?

If the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger is negligent, you can assert a claim. If at the time of the accident, you owned and insured your own automobile, your insurance company will be responsible for you medical bills and wage loss. If you did not, the vehicle in which you were a passenger would generally be responsible for your medical bills and wage loss. The mere fact that you were a passenger in a vehicle does not automatically give rise to a suit. The driver of the vehicle has to be negligent in some fashion.

Is there anyone other than the drivers and passengers involved in a motor vehicle collision that I could sue for my damages?

There are certain circumstances when individuals other than a driver of an automobile may be responsible for your damages. For instance, if the negligent driver were in the course of scope of his employment at the time of the accident, his employer would be responsible as well. Similarly, if the driver is operating a car owned by someone else with that individual’s consent and permission, that individual will be responsible as well.

What if more than one driver is at fault?

Minnesota is a comparative fault state. Generally speaking, you’re entitled to recover from a negligent driver who causes an accident of subsequent injuries. If more than one driver is at fault, most cases are resolved by virtue of an apportionment of fault.

What if I am at fault for causing the accident?

Minnesota is a comparative fault state. As long as your fault is less than or equal to that of the other driver, a recovery can be realized. However, the recovery is diminished or reduced by the percent of fault attributable to you in causing the accident.

How is fault determined?

Fault is generally determined by the totality of the circumstances surrounding the accident. Eyewitness testimony from neutral individuals as always important. Additionally, experts such as accident reconstructionist can be employed to determine fault.

Who can recover damages in a motor vehicle accident?

Any individual who satisfies the no­fault thresholds are entitled to recover damages in motor vehicle accidents. Those thresholds include but are not limited a permanent injury, the incurring of medical expenses in excess of $4,000 (excluding diagnostic testing), a residual scar or deformity, sixty (60) days of disability or death. In death cases, the heirs of the deceased are entitled to maintain a claim similarly, in certain circumstances the spouse of an injured person is entitled to recover damages as well. In the case of an injury to a minor, a parent or natural guardian is entitled to recover medical expenses incurred on behalf of the minor for care and treatment.

How long do I have to sue if I am injured as a result of someone's carelessness or negligence?

The general rule is that the statute of limitations for car accident cases in Minnesota is six years. There are certain exceptions and every case has to be evaluated closely on an individual basis.

What damages can I recover in a motor vehicle accident?

A person is entitled to recover damages for past medical expense, past wage loss, past pain and suffering, future medical expense, future impairment of running capacity and future pain and suffering.

How long will it take to get money in my case?

Every case is unique unto itself. Most physicians who care for and treat accident victims generally require 9­15 months of care and treatment in order to perform final opinions relative to injuries. Once final evaluations are in hand from treating physicians, a demand is provided to the appropriate insurance company. Thereafter, settlement negotiations would begin. If they were not productive, a lawsuit would be started. Most lawsuits are resolved through settlement or trial with in one year of commencement as required by the rules of court.

How much money can I expect to get in a settlement? / What is my case worth?

There is no hard and fast rule for placing a financial value upon a case. Cases are evaluated based upon the circumstances of the accident, severity of the injury and its impact upon an individual’s day­to­day affairs including employment.

How am I supposed to get back and forth while my car is in the shop?

Insurance companies do offer replacement or rental coverage while automobiles are being repaired. In some circumstances, the adverse insurance company is willing to provide a rental car.

I can't work; can I file for unemployment even though litigation is pending?

Under the Minnesota No­Fault Act, a person is entitled 85% of their weekly wage up to a maximum of $500.00 per week for wage loss occasioned by injuries arising out of an automobile accident. To the extent that those damages are uncompensated, they become part of the general claim for damages against the appropriate party. When filing for unemployment, you are generally certifying that you’re available for but cannot find work. Accordingly, unemployment would not be generally available on these circumstances.

What can I expect the police officer to do at the accident scene?

The police officer will gather the necessary information from the parties involved in the accident as well as neutral witnesses. When appropriate, photographs and measurements will also be taken. The report is than available within a short period of time thereafter.

Who determines who is responsible for a traffic accident?

Fault is determined by totality of these circumstances surrounding the accident. That includes independent witnesses observations, the observations of the parties and expert witnesses in the form of accident reconstructionist when appropriate.

Should I do an investigation of the facts of the accident on my own?

It is rarely productive to conduct your own investigation concerning the facts of an accident. Lawyers, professional investigators and accident Reconstructionist are in the best position to act on your behalf.

What if the cause of a traffic accident is not clear?

If the cause of an accident is unclear, it is important that a professional be employed for the purposes of investigating the crash. Accident Reconstructionist is uniquely qualified to perform these tasks.

Can I be found liable if my car is rear­ended in a crash?

Under some circumstances if a quick stop is made, you certainly can be found liable in a rear­end crash. However, it is also obvious that the driver traveling behind you is responsible for observing traffic and keeping a watchful eye on the flow of traffic and road conditions.

Can I still win my case if my memory of the accident now conflicts with things I might have said at the time of the accident?

At the time of an accident, emotions are high. If independent witnesses are available to cooperate earlier it counts, that will eliminate concerns about memories fading.

What if I was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of my accident? Can I still recover damages?

Whether or not a person was wearing a seatbelt at the time of an accident is inadmissible as a matter of law at that time a case is tried. Therefore, that information would not be an influence factor in evaluating a claim for injuries.

Should I release my medical records to another driver's insurance adjuster?

It is generally not a good ideal to provide blanket releases to a liability insurance adjuster. Those records do have to be provided in order to substantiate a claim however; there are safeguards, which can be employed to protect your privacy.

I was in a car accident and the airbags in my car didn't deploy. Do I have a case against the car manufacturer?

Air bag product liability cases are extremely difficult cases. In some circumstances, the cost of advancing a claim of this nature may exceed the amount ultimately to be recovered.

Is it always necessary to file a lawsuit?

Most cases are resolved without the commencement of a lawsuit. However, even in those circumstances were lawsuits are commenced; most cases do resolve themselves short of a trial. It is always important to be represented by an individual skilled in the trial of cases of this nature in the event if settlement cannot be achieved.

Are there alternatives to going to court?

Many cases are resolved through negotiation, mediation, or binding arbitration.

About Work Injuries/Workers’ Compensation

What happens when I get injured at my job?

Tell your employer immediately. Be sure to report your injury to your supervisor. If you need to seek emergency medical attention do that first, but then contact your employer as soon as possible. Your employer will complete a First Report of Injury (FROI) form, so be sure to give your employer accurate and complete information about how your were hurt and about any injuries you sustained. Then call Duluth Injury Lawyers at (218) 722­1488 for a free, no obligation consultation.

What types of injuries are covered by workers' compensation?

A work­related injury can be any condition that is caused, aggravated or accelerated by employment activities. This includes traumatic injuries, gradual injuries or occupational diseases. The most often overlooked are injuries are those brought on by the wear and tear caused by certain work activities performed over a period of time. These injuries are valid work comp injuries and should not be ignored.

Does my employer have to carry workers' compensation insurance?

Yes. There are very few exceptions. Call us for a free consultation.

What benefits might I be entitled to?

Some benefits you might receive include wage­loss benefits, compensation for loss of use of a part of the body, medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation and retraining.

What medical treatment is covered by workers' compensation?

The Minnesota workers’ compensation statutes entitle an employee to reasonable and
necessary medical treatment or supplies to cure or relieve the effect of the work injury. The
employer is required to furnish medical treatment as described by Minnesota Statutes
176.135, subd. 1
, including psychological, chiropractic, podiatric, surgical and hospital
treatment.

Can I treat with my own physician?

Employees may choose their health care provider for treatment of a work­related injury.

What is an independent medical examination (IME) and do I have to attend?

An independent medical examination (IME) is an evaluation performed by a doctor selected by the employer or insurer who is not involved in the employee’s care. The purpose of the IME is to provide an opinion about a variety of medical and job­related issues. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier or self­insured employer has a legal right to request an IME with a doctor it selects, at reasonable times and places. Under most circumstances, the examination must be within 150 miles of the employee’s residence. The insurer must pay for the exam and must reimburse the employee for reasonable mileage and other costs of attending the examination. Failure to attend the examination could result in an interruption of benefits to the injured worker.

How does my workers' compensation claim affect the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), sick time, vacation time, paid time off (PTO), etc.?

The work or nonwork status of the injury or disability has no bearing upon the employer’s obligations under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The employee’s eligibility for the protections of FMLA is governed entirely by whether the employee’s injury or medical condition brings the employee within the coverage of FMLA. If the employee qualifies for FMLA leave, the employer will not be able to terminate the employee for absenteeism or take any other actions prohibited by FMLA until the employee’s entitlement to FMLA leave has been exhausted.

Sick leave, vacation leave or paid time off (PTO) cannot be used to pay workers’ compensation benefits. However, accrual of these benefits may be affected by being off of work due to an injury.

What happens if I am unable to return to the work I did before I was injured?

You may be eligible for wage­loss benefits as discussed in question four. You may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, at no cost to you, to help you return to work. Services may include vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job­seeking skills, job placement and formal retraining.

Where can I find Minnesota laws and statutes regarding workers' compensation?

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 176 contains the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, which allows employees to receive compensation for injuries or occupational diseases that arise out of or in the course of employment. Various Minnesota Rules, some of which are found in
Chapters 5220, 5221 and 5223, also relate to Minnesota workers’ compensation.

What do I do if my workers' compensation claim or wage­loss/monetary benefits are denied?

Contact Duluth Injury Lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation immediately. Call (218) 722­1488. It is likely that an administrative hearing will be necessary to address the denied or disputed wage benefits.

What if my wage­loss benefits have been discontinued or stopped?

Contact Duluth Injury Lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation immediately. Call (218) 722­1488. It is likely that an administrative hearing will be necessary to address the denied or disputed wage benefits.

What if my checks are late?

Penalties for late payments of ongoing temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits are available if there is proof that more than three benefit payments were issued more than three business­days late. Proof of late payment would be a copy of your compensation check stubs and, in the case of temporary partial disability benefits, documentation of the date on which wage­loss documentation was sent to the insurer. Penalties assessed against the insurance company are payable to the Assigned Risk Safety Account in the department and also payable to the employee. The penalty amounts are determined by the length of delay and amount of benefits delayed. The penalties payable to the employee range from 6 to 30 percent of the amount delayed, the percent is determined by the length of the delay.

You may submit your request for penalty review, with late­payment documentation to:

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
Workers’ Compensation Division
Compliance, Records and Training
443 Lafayette Road N.
St. Paul, MN 55155­4315

What if my medical benefits are denied or not paid? How do I solve a disagreement about medical care?

Contact Duluth Injury Lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation immediately. Call (218) 722­1488. It is likely that a Medical Request will need to be filed on your behalf followed by an administrative hearing to determine if the denied medical treatment is reasonable and related to your work injury.

What if my rehabilitation benefits are denied? How do I solve a disagreement about my vocational rehabilitation plan?

Contact Duluth Injury Lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation immediately. Call (218) 722­1488. It is likely that a Rehabilitation Request will need to be filed on your behalf followed by an administrative hearing to determine if the denied benefits are reasonable and related to your work injury.

What is an administrative hearing and what can I expect?

A hearing is a formal trial of your claims before a compensation judge. It is similar to a District Court trial, but is not as formal. There are no juries in workers’ compensation trials. Hearings are recorded so that a record can be transcribed in the event of an appeal.

You will testify at your hearing. Your attorney will ask you questions to help you explain to the judge how your injury occurred and all of the basic facts involved in your case. The attorney for the employer/insurer will also get to ask you question during a cross examination. Other witnesses may also be called. The attorneys will introduce into evidence various written exhibits, including your medical records, bills and wage­loss information.

Hearings in workers’ compensation cases can usually be completed in half a day, but sometimes take longer. The judge should issue a decision within 60 days of your hearing. You may appeal a judge’s decision if you disagree with it. The appeal will be heard at the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.

What is a deposition?

In a deposition, you give testimony under oath. It is similar to testimony at a hearing, except there is no judge or jury present. Depositions of the employee and other witnesses are taken to find out what you or other witnesses know and to establish as many facts about the case before a hearing. Your employer or its insurer has the right to depose you. In addition, anyone who has information related to your case can be deposed.

About Social Security

When should I file for Social Security disability?

To be approved for disability, you must establish that you have been or will be disabled for at least one year. If you apply immediately after ceasing work, Social Security will likely deny your claim automatically because the one­year requirement has not been met. Because Social Security typically takes six to eight months to render an initial determination, you will have the greatest chance to win your case initially by filing your claim approximately six months after you stop working.

Can I be working and still pursue Social Security disability?

Yes, if your earnings are so low that they are not considered to be “substantial gainful activity” (gross wages of $1,070.00 per month in 2014; gross wages of $1,090.00 per month in 2015).

What does Social Security consider in processing a disability claim?

The combination of your physical and mental medical conditions and work­related restrictions.

Are all Social Security claims denied initially?

No, about one­third are approved, but the approved cases generally involve the most obviously disabled individuals or individuals who are older than 55.

Should I give up if I am denied initially?

Definitely not. Instead, you should contact an experienced Social Security attorney so that your case is properly evaluated.

When should I contact an attorney?

Increasingly, disabled individuals are retaining attorneys to file claims on their behalf. However, many individuals choose to file on their own and wait to contact an attorney if the claim is denied.

If I am denied initially, what does the appeals process involve?

You have 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration. If denied on reconsideration, you have 60 days to file a Request for Hearing. If a judge denies the claim after a hearing, you have 60 days to file a Request for Review with the Appeals Council.

Must I have an attorney at my hearing?

No, but your chances of success are significantly improved if you have an attorney representing you.

What are my chances of success?

As noted above, about one­third of cases are approved initially. At the Reconsideration level, only about 10% of cases are approved. At the hearing level before an Administrative Law Judge, about 50% are approved, but the chances vary (depending on the judge).

How long does the appeals process take?

About three to six months at the reconsideration level and about 13 months at the hearings level.

Can my claim be expedited?

Yes, if there is proof that you have a terminal illness, are actively suicidal, or should be classified as in “dire need” (homelessness, declaration of bankruptcy, mortgage foreclosure, utility shut­off, no health insurance, or inability to pay medical bills).

Do I have to pay an attorney fee if I lose?

No, Social Security cases are handled on a contingent fee basis.

How much will the attorney fee be?

If successful, 25% of past­due Social Security benefits with a cap of $6,000.00. For example, if past­due benefits are $12,000.00, the attorney fee is $3,000.00. If past due benefits are $40,000.00, the attorney fee is limited to $6,000.00.

About Insurance

What if I have no insurance?

If you are a passenger in an automobile and do not own or insure an automobile of your own, you would be entitled to recover your medical expenses and wage loss from the policy of insurance insuring the vehicle at the time of accident. Alternatively, if you reside with an individual who owns an automobile, you may be entitled to no­fault coverage from that policy. Each case has to be investigated in order to reveal the priority of coverages.

What if one of the other drivers has no insurance or has insufficient insurance to cover the cost of my damages?

In Minnesota, uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverages are mandatory to protect against circumstances of this nature. If an uninsured motorist causes an injury, your own insurance will stand in and provide the coverage necessary to compensate you for your injuries. Similarly, if an insured individual is underinsured, your company will again step in to compensate you for those uncompensated damages.

How does automobile insurance work in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, every operator of an automobile must carry liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist coverage and no­fault coverage in order to protect individuals involved in automobile accidents. Regardless of fault, your no­fault coverage will compensate you for your medical expenses and time away from work occasioned by injuries.

What is uninsured or under­insured motorist coverage?

In Minnesota, every operator of an automobile must carry liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist coverage and no­fault coverage in order to protect individuals involved in automobile accidents. Regardless of fault, your no­fault coverage will compensate you for your medical expenses and time away from work occasioned by injuries.

Who is usually included in my uninsured/under­insured motorist coverage?

All residents of the household are considered insured’s for the purposes of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Who is usually covered by automobile liability insurance?

Those individuals injured through the negligence of another are entitled to assert claims under an automobile liability insurance policy for damages.

Which vehicles are normally covered under an auto insurance liability policy?

All automobiles are required to be insured with a policy of insurance providing liability, uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, and no­fault coverage.

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