Do You Have to Go to Court after a Car Accident Claim?

Anyone who has been involved in a car accident understands that the aftermath can be incredibly confusing. Car accident victims are often dealing with injuries and property damage, and they may not be able to work. Securing conversation for injury and property damage expenses is important, but this process is not always easy. Most car accident cases do not go to court. Instead, they are usually settled through insurance carriers. However, going to court may be necessary in order for a car accident victim to secure the compensation they need.

What Usually Happens After a Vehicular Accident

Once the dust has settled, and everybody has been taken care of and is stable medically, all the parties involved report the car accident to the respective insurance carriers. It needs to be noted that Minnesota is a “no-fault” state when it comes to car accidents. This means that any injured party in a car accident will turn to their own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to secure compensation for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Replacement services (the cost of household cleaning/chores that you cannot perform duty your injuries)
  • Funeral expenses up to $2,000 if the car accident resulted in the death of a covered person

You will notice that you cannot get compensation for pain and suffering damages or any other non-monetary damages stemming from an accident in this no-fault system.

In Minnesota, the minimum insurance requirements for drivers include:

  • $40,000 personal injury protection (PIP)
  • $30,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability
  • $25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury

When Might it be Necessary to go to Court After a Car Accident?

In most circumstances, drivers in Minnesota cannot step outside of the no-fault system for additional compensation, including pain and suffering damages. However, if certain thresholds are met concerning the injuries, an injured party may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Under the law in Minnesota, these thresholds are:

  • That the victim incurred at least $4,000 in reasonable medical expenses due to the accident, and/or
  • The victim suffered 60 days or more of a disability, permanent disfigurement, or permanent injury due to the accident.

If either of those thresholds are met, a car accident victim may file a lawsuit to pursue compensation for all of the losses listed above that would be covered by PIP as well as pain and suffering damages and any other available non-economic damages that are not available in a no-fault claim.

It should also be noted that Minnesota’s no-fault system applies only to injuries caused by the car accident and not to vehicle damage claims. Any property damage claim for the vehicle in a car accident will be made against the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier first. If their insurance carrier does not offer a fair amount for your vehicle damage (or a fair value for a totaled vehicle), it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for the full amount of property damage.

Does Minnesota Have Timelines for Filing Car Accident Lawsuits?

Car accident claims should be made with an insurer soon after an accident occurs. The no-fault system requires that all PIP claims be made within six months of the car accident occurring. If your case met the thresholds to file a personal injury lawsuit, you must do so within two years from the date the injury occurred. If your lawsuit involves property damage, you have up to six years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.