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You Got In An Accident With An Underinsured Motorist. Now What?

Getting in a car accident is always a hassle, but what happens when you (or your car) gets hurt, and it turns out the perpetrators has no liability coverage? Do you have to walk away and try to fight a (possibly indigent) person in court, and get a useless judgement against them?  In Minnesota, the answer is “No”. While many other states leave it up to you or your insurance company to sue and collect money from the driver, Minnesota has some of the most comprehensive “no-fault” auto insurance requirements in the United States. This means that although the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have enough insurance coverage, there are provisions in the law that can require your own insurance company to cover your injuries and losses.

Insurance laws can seem complicated, so in this article, we’ll go over some of the important parts of Minnesota’s laws, such as no-fault insurance laws, and how to go about getting compensation when you’re injured by an uninsured driver.

None of this information is legal advice and it is for informational purposes only. However, we do advise that you seek the services of a competent attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been in a car accident.

When You’re in A Car Accident

When you’ve been in an accident, you may not want to worry thinking about proving a future court case. With a good attorney, you won’t have to. Instead, however, you will need to keep receipts and document your expenses as you focus on recovery. Often you will suffer injuries that will cause a loss of work or an extended recovery.

Some injuries will require surgery and physical therapy, while others may cause long-term pain that you will need longer-term recovery for. Sometimes a car accident can also exacerbate other injuries or illnesses you already have.

Save all medical receipts and get copies of your medical reports and files. If more than one person was in your car during the accident, you should keep their records as well. Your attorney can file a claim on behalf of your family members if the accident injured them, too.

Minnesota has legal requirements when it comes to car ownership and requires all vehicle owners who drive in Minnesota or store their cars in Minnesota to carry the following personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This requirements includes liability insurance, and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance. There are also different amounts of payouts that are legally required under Minnesota law. You can learn more about car insurance requirements in this consumer manual from the Department of Commerce.

Unfortunately, vehicle damage claims doesn’t fall under Minnesota’s no-fault system. Because of this, you’re always file a third-party liability claim or even a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for any property damage caused by a car accident. An experienced attorney is the best person to help you with these types of claims.

Understanding Minnesota’s No-Fault Insurance Laws

Minnesota’s No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act became law in 1974. Meant to solve the problem of uninsured motorists who cause accidents, this law benefits insured drivers tremendously. Insured Minnesota drivers can get compensation under their own insurance policy no matter who was “at fault” for the accident — even uninsured or underinsured drivers.

This law has one drawback; it limits the circumstance in which drivers are able to sue each other in court.

Minnesota drivers can only file a liability claim against another driver if:

  • The injured party has spent $4,000 in medical expenses because of the accident and/or
  • The injured part has suffered 60 days of disability, permanent injury, or permanent disfigurement.

If your claim meets one of the above circumstances, it’s possible that you can file a claim against another driver. However, before you take this action, you will still need to have filed a claim with your own insurance company as well as their insurance company as an underinsured driver claim.

Filing An Underinsured Driver Claim With Your Insurance Co.

When you get in an accident, the first thing the drivers usually do is exchange contact information as well as insurance plan information. Sometimes the driver will admit they are uninsured or don’t have liability coverage. Sadly, sometimes a driver will give bad contact information or claim they don’t have their insurance information with them and will give it to you when you call. This becomes a big problem if you don’t ever hear from them again. When you try to track them down without success, you probably will start to think that they don’t have insurance coverage. If you suffered an injury, who can you help you out when the driver is uninsured or their coverage is inadequate to cover you?

If an underinsured driver (or a driver you suspect is uninsured) caused your accident, you will need to file a claim against your own insurance company. Do this as quickly after the accident has taken place. Your car insurance policy may have strict deadlines on filing your claim, so don’t delay with taking this action. As soon as you are able, you will want to also contact an attorney who can help you get the compensation that you deserve from your insurance company.

Your uninsured claim will move through the insurance company in the same way most claims do. The only difference is that the claim is against your own insurance company. Because of this, they might be stingy on the payout.

If you and the insurer cannot agree on a settlement figure, the next step is to go to binding arbitration, where you and your attorney can negotiate with them. If there’s no agreement, then the case is heard by an arbitrator who then decide the case.

Having an attorney that’s a good negotiator is very important when you are in arbitration. There are very few appeal rights when it comes to how Minnesota handles these types of cases. If you’re in an underinsured motorist accident, you will want to act quickly to make sure your rights are enforced. Not sure where to start? Please contact us for a confidential appointment, today.