The answer to this question has two basic components, which are discussed below. Essentially, most people want to know if they should work with a lawyer or not. They know they’ve been hurt, but they don’t really know what to do next.
One component is the statute of limitations. Tortfeasors (negligent actors) are people too. They should not have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives in fear of a potential lawsuit. Furthermore, the lawsuits that go to Minnesota courts should have at least some merit. Otherwise, the effort wastes time and money. These actions may also violate an attorney’s ethical responsibilities.
The Statute of Limitations in Brainerd
As a very general rule of thumb, the statute of limitations in most tort (negligence) cases is two years. That’s one of the shortest limitations periods in the law. Given the vast amount of work to be done in a case to get it ready to file, twenty-four months is not very long. That’s especially true if the lawyer is very busy, as most are, and cannot work on one case for forty hours a week.
Many people think they can put off hiring a lawyer in Brainerd. The Minnesota no-fault law states that car crash victims are only eligible for noneconomic damages if their medical bills exceed $4,000 or their recovery takes more than 60 days. So, many people wait until they reach these thresholds.
But by that time, it may be too late to secure fair compensation. If an attorney does not act almost immediately, important physical evidence is often lost or destroyed. Furthermore, the insurance company often argues that the victim’s injuries must not have been severe if s/he waited so long.
There’s more. Calculating the Brainerd statute of limitations is not always as easy as counting to two. Many claims involve the discovery rule. Head injuries are very common in Brainerd car crashes and also very difficult to properly diagnose. Assume a victim suffers an undiagnosed head injury in 2015, finally see the doctor for lingering pain in 2016, and is diagnosed with a head injury in 2017. Even though the two years has elapsed, this victim may still work with an attorney and file suit. The statute of limitations does not run until 2019, because s/he did not discover the true nature and extent of the injury until 2017.
Furthermore, in some situations, Minnesota law employs a statute of repose instead of a statute of limitations. The SOR starts running much earlier than the SOL, perhaps when a person buys a house or a particular product. Assume a victim buys a car in 2010. In 2017, the victim is in a Brainerd car crash and the air bag does not deploy. If the SOR was six years, the victim has no right to sue, even though the injury occurred very recently.
Things get incredibly convoluted if the statute of repose and discovery rule both apply in the same case, as they often do in mass tort claims.
Some Negligence Basics in Brainerd
Given all this complexity, only an experienced attorney can tell for sure if you have a valid case. But there are some steps you can take on your own.
If you were in a car crash which was at least partially not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Here are some preliminary indications of fault:
- A first responder gave the other driver a citation,
- The other driver apologized (be sure you have a witness),
- Weather conditions were poor (dark sky, wet road, etc.), or
- The other driver acted sleepy, smelled of alcohol, or otherwise behaved oddly.
As mentioned earlier, the no-fault law helps as well. If you go to the hospital, your medical bills will probably exceed $4,000 if you make it out of the waiting room. You definitely need a lawyer at that point. If you’re too hurt to come to Carlson & Jones, we can come to you.
Many people sustain non-car crash personal injuries in Brainerd, like a slip-and-fall or a dog bite. If the injury happened away from home, you may have a claim for damages against the property owner. An attorney needs many more additional facts, such as the purpose of your visit, to make a final determination.
Finally, defective products like talcum powder (yes, you read that right) and surgical meshes injure or kill thousands of people every year. If your injury involved a medical or other device, you may have a case even if the injury happened at home.
CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A BRAINERD PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES
Given the time pressures and legal intricacies involved, if you even think you may possibly have a case, reach out to the experienced personal injury lawyers in Brainerd at Carlson & Jones, P.A. for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose but a few minutes of your day.