Rear Ended? Recovering Compensation After a Rear-End Collision

You’re sitting at a stop sign or in heavy traffic. Or maybe you just came to a quick stop. All of a sudden, your car jerks forward. You are the victim of a Minnesota rear-end car accident.

What do you do? First, call the police. Then, if you are able, take the time to write down the names, license plate numbers, insurance companies and insurance policy numbers of the other driver(s) involved in the rear-end collision. Look around for witnesses and write down their names and contact information.

Then, get medical help. This is true even if your injuries seem minor — perhaps you have a headache, joint pain or a bruised knee. Minor symptoms can turn into lifelong soft-tissue injuries or can even be signs of serious injuries that require immediate medical attention. Furthermore, if you plan on filing a personal injury claim, a doctor can help provide the evidence you will need to prove the extent of your injuries. Common rear-end accident injuries include whiplash, soft tissue injuries, herniated discs, other spinal cord injuries, rotator cuff tears, knee injuries and broken bones.

Who Is Responsible for Your Rear-End Accident?

In most rear-end collisions, the driver of the car that rear-ended another car is at fault. Rear-end accidents are often caused by tailgating drivers, who do not leave enough room to react to a sudden stop, and distracted drivers, who are too busy talking on their cell phones to notice that traffic conditions have changed. Other causes of rear-end accidents include drivers accelerating too quickly, icy road conditions and sudden deceleration on highways.

What about the role of insurance? Minnesota is a no-fault state. This means that your own insurance company will cover your medical costs, wage loss, wrongful death and $2,000 in funeral expenses. It is mandatory for all drivers to carry at least $40,000 in no-fault insurance, also called PIP insurance.

Yet, what if your injuries go beyond your insurance limits? Once your PIP benefits are exhausted, you can make a personal injury claim against the driver at fault. If his or her liability coverage is insufficient to cover your injuries ” or nonexistent ” then you can bring a claim through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. You can also make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your vehicle damage.

Making a Personal Injury Claim

In order to recover compensation for your rear-end collision injuries, you must make a claim with your own insurance company within six months of your accident. You will need to complete an application and provide proof of your medical expenses and other expenses. Make sure to document your injuries and expenses well ” this information will be useful in your claims against your own insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. The insurance companies may also ask you to submit to a medical examination.

Some insurance companies have an unwritten policy to dispute most insurance claims that come in the door. They are also well known for low-balling settlements and making it seem like you are getting a fair deal when you are not. Negotiating with insurance companies can be especially challenging when rehabilitation for the injuries sustained will last many years.

That is why hiring a Minnesota personal injury attorney is so important. Attorneys familiar with insurance company tactics can be strong advocates around the negotiating table and, when necessary, in the courtroom.

Learn more about Minnesota auto insurance law from the Minnesota Department of Commerce by clicking here.