Minnesota Car Accident Laws – Definitions and How to Qualify

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Laura Schaefer

Drivers travel more than 57,171 million miles through Minnesota each year. With that kind of traffic on hazardous snowy roads, you’ll eventually need to know Minnesota car accident laws to protect yourself.

Luckily this legal guide can offer a general overview of Minnesota car accident laws like:

  • What to do after an accident
  • How much insurance you should carry (hint: a lot)
  • How Minnesota’s modified comparative negligence laws work

Even though this guide may offer general tips on Minnesota car accident claims, true legal assistance can only come from an auto accident attorney. Only a Minnesota car accident attorney can give legal advice that is targeted to your case.

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How to Report a Car Accident in Minnesota

The easiest way to report a car accident in Minnesota is to call 911. A law enforcement officer from the county or local municipality will be sent to the scene to investigate. If your car collision results in:

  • Total property damage of at least $1,000, or
  • Injury, or
  • Death

You must file a report with the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services division. This report must be made using the appropriate form within 10 days, according to the Department of Public Safety.

What to Do After a Crash in Minnesota

Minnesota car accident law (Minn. Stat. § 169.09) holds that drivers must remain at the scene if they are involved in an injury or fatal motor vehicle accident. The law allows victims to move their vehicles away from traffic if possible, to prevent further backups on the road.

Drivers must investigate the damage if they reasonably believe an accident occurred on the road. Here are steps a driver must take to solidify their auto accident claim and satisfy Minnesota car accident law:

  1. Check for injuries and call law enforcement. If able, check on passengers and the other vehicles involved. Offer aid if necessary and if you can. Call for emergency medical assistance if car accident injuries are severe or life-threatening.
  2. Exchange information. Get the names, license plate numbers and addresses for the other drivers and passengers involved. Anyone who witnessed the motor vehicle collision is also important, so get their contact info as well.
  3. Do not admit guilt; instead document the scene. Take pictures of the environment around the collision, the vehicles involved, and any injuries. Write notes about what happened to use in the future for your auto accident claim.
  4. Consult with an attorney. A lawyer may help you understand your rights and explain your options for seeking financial compensation, particularly if your injuries are severe or require ongoing treatment.

When communicating with the other driver, keep the conversation cordial and never admit fault, even if it’s an apology. The other driver can use your words as an admission of guilt to reduce their liability for the accident. This may reduce your overall settlement since you admitted to owning partial fault for the accident.

Is Minnesota a No-Fault State?

Yes. Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state. This means your car insurance covers medical expenses, wage loss, and out-of-pocket damages, regardless of who caused the crash.

You are only allowed to pursue a claim against the other driver under this no-fault state rule if your injuries are severe. This is defined by these parameters:

  • The incident resulted in at least $4,000 in medical expenses.
  • The incident resulted in permanent injury, scarring, or disfigurement.
  • The incident resulted in at least 60 days of disability.

You also must prove that the other driver’s actions contributed to the losses you suffered from the crash. That’s where the evidence you collected at the scene comes in, which can prove they violated their duty of care. You’ll need an attorney to arrange your case, even if you have insurance.

If your accident meets these criteria, you may sue the at-fault driver through Minnesota’s modified comparative negligence rule.

Minnesota Modified Comparative Negligence Laws

If you file a claim against another driver, you will not recover anything if you are determined to be at least 51% at-fault for the Minnesota car accident, according to Minn. Stat. § 604.01.

If you are found to be 50% at-fault or less, you can claim the percentage of the total damages you are at-fault. In other states, this is sometimes called modified comparative fault.

For example, if you experienced $10,000 in losses, but the jury found you to be 40% at-fault, you would only be able to recover $6,000 from the other driver.

Don’t let your partial liability convince you that you don’t qualify for compensation. Even those partially at-fault for an accident may cover their losses if they qualify due to modified comparative negligence.

Minnesota Car Insurance Laws

Minnesota requires more car insurance than most states. In this state, you must carry three types of car insurance:

  1. Liability
  2. Uninsured and underinsured motorist
  3. Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage

If you caused an accident that resulted in bodily injury or harm, your liability insurance covers costs that exceed the other driver’s PIP coverage. Every driver must have liability insurance that covers at least:

  • $30,000 in coverage for damages to one person
  • $60,000 in coverage for injuries to two or more people
  • $10,000 in coverage for any property damage.

PIP Insurance covers the medical treatment and other out-of-pocket losses for you and your other passengers without their own coverage.

You are required to carry a minimum of $40,000 in PIP coverage per person per accident according to Minnesota car accident law. Half of the total covers medical expenses, and the other covers non-medical costs.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance (UI/UM) pays out if your PIP insurance does not cover the cost of your injuries and the at-fault driver does not have enough liability insurance to cover your injuries. You are required to carry:

  • $25,000 for injuries to one person
  • $50,000 for injuries to two or more people.

Types of Damages Available in a Minnesota Car Accident

Minnesota drivers are bound by a concept called “duty of care” to protect themselves and other drivers on the road.

This means that Minnesota requires all motor vehicle drivers to exercise reasonable care to avoid inflicting harm on others. The law requires that you operate your vehicle as a reasonable person would.

If another driver’s actions violated their duty of care and contributed to your losses, you may qualify for damages. The two types of damages you may collect for a Minnesota car accident are:

  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages

Understanding the damages you qualify for can increase your chances for compensation.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the type of damages that can be represented as a bill or are otherwise easy to prove. They include the cost to repair your vehicle, the cost to rent another vehicle, your lost wages, and any outstanding medical expenses.

Economic damages are mostly paid by your PIP insurance. However, if costs exceed limits and the other driver was at-fault, you may acquire economic damages through an auto claim.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are the intangible losses from an auto accident. These include damages such as disability or disfigurement, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. These damages are not recoverable through your PIP coverage. They are only available if you sue the at-fault driver under Minnesota law.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant. These are only available if the plaintiff proves the defendant showed a “deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others”. Punitive damages may be especially relevant in drunk driving cases.

Minnesota Statute of Limitations

To take legal action against an at-fault driver, you must file a claim within two years of the crash according to Minnesota Statutes § 541.07(1). You have three years for a claim involving fatalities (also known as “wrongful death”), according to Minnesota Statutes § 573.02.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

The clock starts on the day of your accident, so be sure to take action by consulting an attorney sooner rather than later. However, in wrongful death cases, “clock” starts on the date of the person’s death, if it is different from the date of the accident.

LegalASAP Can Find a Trusted Auto Accident Lawyer in Your Area

Minnesota’s steep insurance requirements and comparative negligence laws can make dealing with a car accident by yourself feel intimidating. LegalASAP can connect you with a qualified auto accident lawyer in your area. Not only can an attorney help clear up confusion, but the whole process is free until you get your settlement.

You or your loved one have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Let us help you get started on your claim today.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author ofThe Teashop Girls,The Secret Ingredient, andLittler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.