If you were recently involved a car accident, you may be wondering whether it’s worth filing a personal injury claim. After all, since Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state, you probably have personal injury protection (PIP), which should cover medical bills, lost wages, and reasonable “replacement services” like housekeeping.
Unfortunately, PIP doesn’t compensate claimants for non-economic damages like pain and suffering, and if you sustained serious injuries, your policy limits might be too low to cover all your losses. Fortunately, accident victims can bypass the no-fault system if they incurred more than $4,000 in medical expenses or suffered permanent disfigurement, permanent injury, or at least 60 days of disability.
As you can see, calculating the potential value of your damages is an important step in determining the most strategic way to proceed with your claim. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for calculating damages, there are certain factors that are fairly ubiquitous in settlement calculations.
Those factors include:
- The Severity of Your Injuries
Naturally, more serious injuries tend to result in more significant damages and larger settlements. The types of injuries you suffered, their permanence, and the cost of medical care will have a major impact on the value of both economic and non-economic damages.
- The Total Insurance Coverage Available
In most cases, car accident victims cannot recover a payout that exceeds the liable party’s total insurance coverage; however, if multiple parties were liable for your injury, there might be more insurance policies in play. Under some circumstances, a defendant can be held liable for 100 percent of a plaintiff’s damages even if that defendant was only partially at fault. This is called “joint and several liability.” A seasoned personal injury attorney can investigate your case to identify all potentially liable parties.
- Your Own Percentage of Fault
Insurance adjusters often try to protect their employer’s bottom line by shifting at least part of the blame to the claimant. Since Minnesota follows a modified comparative fault rule, a plaintiff’s total payout must be reduced by his or her own percentage of fault. Additionally, those who are found to be more than 50 percent liable are barred from recovering any compensation at all.
- Whether a Punitive Award Might Be Available
In Minnesota, personal injury plaintiffs can pursue punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct exhibited a deliberate disregard for their rights or safety, or with intentional disregard or knowledge that their actions were likely to cause injury. Depending on the circumstances, punitive damages awards can be quite substantial.
Discuss Your Claim with a Car Accident Attorney in St. Cloud
If you were hurt in a collision with a drunk, distracted, or otherwise reckless driver, contact Bradshaw & Bryant. We understand how a serious injury can turn your life upside down, and we will tirelessly help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Call our office today at 320-259-5414 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free case evaluation with a car accident lawyer in St. Cloud.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.