Minneapolis DWI Victim Lawyer

We all know the dangers of getting behind the wheel impaired, but some people do it anyway. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 people die in alcohol-related crashes each year. Nationwide, alcohol plays a role in about 1/3 of all car crashes. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, you’re likely wondering about your legal options. Let’s see how a drunk driving accident may play out in court in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s No-Fault Statute

Minnesota’s no-fault laws affect your ability to file a lawsuit, even if it’s against a drunk driver. In other words, drunk drivers in no-fault states like Minnesota aren’t automatically open to a civil lawsuit, even though the drunk driver is clearly at fault. Even though a drunk driver was negligent and their negligence led to your injuries, you may only file a lawsuit when your injuries meet certain conditions. In Minnesota, these are:

  • At least $4,000 in medical expenses directly related to the car accident, and/or
  • At least 60 days disability, disfigurement, or permanent injury

If either of the above conditions apply, you’re free to pursue a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver.

Civil Versus Criminal Charges

A car accident involving a drunk driver is different than most types of car accidents because there’s little question as to who’s at fault. If you sustain serious injuries in an accident involving a drunk driver, you have a legal right to pursue compensation for your injuries, even if the driver is facing criminal charges. It’s important to know that civil cases and criminal charges are different. In other words, you won’t receive compensation from a criminal case – you’ll have to file civil charges on top of any criminal proceeding.

A civil case against a drunk driver is essentially a financial price tag on your injuries and the cost of your physical and emotional recovery. These are lumped into damage categories:

  • Special damages compensate for things like medical bills, lost wages, any loss in earning capacity, and the continued costs of your rehabilitation.
  • General damages cover intangible losses. Examples include pain, suffering, emotional distress, and the subjective effects of your injuries.
  • In certain situations, you may be able to pursue punitive damages. Courts award these when there was gross negligence or wanton misconduct. The law intends these to punish the drunk driver and discourage that behavior in the future.

Calculating Damages

If you’re eligible to pursue a civil claim against a drunk driver, the next question most people have is, “How much is my claim worth?” We calculate a fair settlement by adding up your special damages and general damages, as well as any applicable punitive damages. For example:

  • Economic damages are fairly easy to calculate. We add up your medical bills and the number of days you missed work, times what you make in a day. In cases of permanent injury, we calculate your loss in earning capacity (i.e., what you would have made from the date of the accident until retirement).
  • General damages are harder to calculate, but we use either a multiplier or per diem method. Using the multiplier method, we take your amount of economic damages and multiply it by a number (1.5–5), depending on the severity of your injuries. Using the per diem method, we take what you make at work each day and multiply it by the number of days you suffered.

Beginning Your Minnesota Drunk Driving Accident Claim

Being involved in an accident with a drunk driver can be devastating. At the Law Offices of Knutson and Casey, we’re here to help. We’ve been helping victims and their families for over 25 years. To start on your road to recovery, contact us for a free case evaluation.