Minnesota Auto Liability Laws and What You Need to Know

76 views 7:39 am 0 Comments April 4, 2018
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We’ve all most likely been in an auto accident at some point in our lives, be it a small fender bender or a major collision. The process on the surface seems simple. You file the claim with your insurance carrier (or the other party’s if you don’t have collision coverage), get a call from your claim representative to tell your side of the story, wait a little while the claims rep works their magic, and then get the news about the outcome of the claim. But what is this ‘magic’ they work behind the scenes?


First and foremost, liability and fault are NOT the same thing. Fault is essentially the proximate cause, or primary cause of the accident. The driver found to be the proximate cause usually holds a majority of the liability as a result. What most people don’t realize is that liability in most states can be shared. Minnesota operates under Contributory Negligence, which states that a plaintiff’s liability will reduce the amount collected in regards to an accident proportionally up to a cap of 50%, above which they will be barred from collecting any damages. For clear cut cases like rear end accidents and the like, figuring out the liability is usually a straightforward process. The person responsible for rear ending the other vehicle is majority, if not 100% liable, and their insurance covers the damages they’re responsible for. Some cases, on the other hand, are far from clear cut.


Just because you or your insurance agent has a solid theory for liability doesn’t mean you won’t run into trouble arguing your case. Many times, especially when liability isn’t so clear cut, the other insurance carrier will refuse to accept any liability, despite the evidence being against them. This stubbornness usually is the result of cases that lie on or very close to the 50% threshold. Since having liability over 50% bars their client from recovery, insurance agents will do everything they can to get liability settled as close to 50% as they can if their client is clearly the proximate cause, or try to fight for minimal liability in more nebulous cases. When I worked in the insurance industry, I generally considered myself a fair adjuster, assessing cases without bias at what I believed the liability was.

Arbitration and Litigation 

If two insurance companies are unable to come to an agreement on liability, they can submit the claim in a process called arbitration. In arbitration, the evidence and positions held by both parties are submitted to a third party arbitrator, who reviews the case and makes an objective, unbiased ruling. Both insurance carriers are bound by the arbitration ruling and must remit payment for the damages which they are responsible for. If you don’t have collision coverage on your vehicle, or the other party is not part of arbitration (which is the case with many commercial insurance companies), then you may want to look into auto accident lawyer services Arnold MN or your local area. Your insurance may cover the cost of litigation internally if they are handling the case, but if you have no first party coverage it is something you may want to do yourself. 

Auto Injury Cases 

Auto injuries are covered primarily by your own PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage to a certain limit. This coverage covers everyone in the insured vehicle at the time. Once that limit is reached, however, the excess can be sought after by your insurance or yourself. These additional damages can also include pain and suffering. In injury cases, it is highly advised you retain an attorney to assist, as it is a lot more challenging to quantify medical damages and the cost of treatments, especially if it is a long term injury, than it is to asses auto damages. 


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