Minnesota police issued over 100 speeding citations in the first quarter of 2021. And speeding is the leading cause of car accidents in the North Star State, bringing about over 40% of car wrecks each year. While unfortunate, it wouldn’t be surprising if you were asking, Do I need a lawyer for an accident in Buffalo?
Were you or a loved one recently involved in a wreck? Then you might be wondering: do I need a Buffalo, MN accident attorney?
It’s almost always a good idea to call a lawyer after an accident, whether you think you were at fault or not. Still, some other situations may not require an attorney’s assistance.
Keep reading to find out exactly when you should hire a lawyer for a car accident in Buffalo.
When You Don’t Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident in Buffalo
The first thing to understand about car accidents is that Minnesota is a no-fault state. What does that mean? If you get into a wreck with another driver, your insurance company will cover your property loss and injuries. And the other driver’s insurer will cover his or her property loss and injuries.
Contrast that with fault states. Fault states require the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to pay for the other party’s injuries and auto damages.
In no-fault states like Minnesota, insurance companies handle the majority of car wreck claims. However, you have legal grounds for a personal injury case if you or the other driver’s claim meets one or both of the following criteria:
- Accident-related medical expenses are $4,000 or more
- One or more drivers suffered a permanent injury, scarring, or disfigurement
With that said, here are three situations that may not warrant a call to your local attorney after a car accident.
No Injuries Occurred
If no injuries occurred, do I need a lawyer? There would be no need for a personal injury attorney if no one got injured in the accident. Instead, you can simply file a claim with your insurance company to recover damages to your property.
An attorney may not even be necessary for accidents leading to minor injuries. After all, the potential recovery you’ll get from your lawsuit likely won’t be worth the cost of obtaining a legal expert.
Keep in mind that you should always get a doctor’s clearance before deciding against a personal injury expert. This is because some injuries like whiplash take longer to manifest after the accident.
The Insurance Company Plays Nice
You’ve probably read horror stories about drivers getting shorted by their insurance company after an accident. Instead of paying a reasonable sum on the claim, they short the policyholder.
But these cases are the exception and not necessarily the rule. Most insurance companies do their jobs right the first time, paying out a fair amount for your auto damages.
Unless your car experienced significant damage and your insurer is offering an amount you feel is unreasonable, you likely won’t need an attorney. Just remember to never admit to the insurance company that you were at fault for the accident, even if you think you were.
You Were at Fault
If you think you were at fault for the accident and the other driver got injured, you may not need to call an attorney. Why? Car insurance companies usually provide a defense attorney for you if the other driver files a personal injury lawsuit. This is known as the insurer’s “duty to defend.”
Yet, sometimes, an insurance company can get out of its duty to defend, including if:
- The policyholder fails to notify the insurance company about the accident
- The policyholder intentionally caused the accident
- The accident damages cost more than the policy’s maximum liability coverage
If this happens to you, you should be asking, Do I need a lawyer? You should call a car accident defense attorney in Buffalo, MN.
Reasons Why You Would Need an Accident Attorney
A Minnesota attorney can do three main things for you after a car accident.
The first thing is to deal with your insurance company, ensuring you get the highest compensation possible. Secondly, a legal expert can help you pursue compensation from the other driver’s insurer if your insurance pays out less than your auto damages are worth.
When you aren’t at fault for the accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can also help you file suit against the other driver. That way, you can win a settlement to reimburse you for your injury-related medical bills, pain and suffering, and auto damages.
Keeping these two functions in mind, here are the top reasons why you should call a lawyer after an accident.
It’s Unclear Who Was at Fault
Were you severely injured in an accident that you think was your fault? Due to Minnesota’s comparative negligence laws, you may still have a claim against the other driver. In this case, you’re correct if you’re asking, Do I need a lawyer in Buffalo?
Comparative negligence laws mean you can file a personal injury lawsuit and recover damages if you were partially to blame for the accident but less at fault than the other driver.
The Wreck Caused Significant Property Loss
What happens if your insurance company pays out the maximum for damages, but the amount still isn’t enough to cover your vehicular damage?
You may be able to sue the other driver’s insurance company to pay the remainder. However, due to Minnesota’s no-fault rule, your property loss claim must be part of a larger personal injury case to bring it up against the other driver.
A lawyer for personal injury can help you recover compensation for damages to your vehicle. And it’s especially important to consider legal advice if the damage to your car totals $1000 or more.
The Wreck Caused Significant Personal Injuries
We’ve already mentioned that there are only two scenarios that allow a plaintiff to bring a case against the at-fault driver after a wreck. You must’ve acquired an injury with $4,000 or more worth of related medical expenses, suffered a permanent injury, scar, or disfigurement, or both.
If these scenarios apply to you, an experienced personal injury lawyer in Buffalo, MN can help you win a settlement. And a personal injury settlement can reimburse your medical expenses and non-economic losses (e.g., pain and suffering). So if you’re asking do I need a lawyer after a wreck that caused significant personal injuries, the answer is probably yes.
The Wreck Resulted in Wrongful Death
The families of drivers killed in auto accidents due to another driver’s negligence have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Hiring a Minnesota personal injury lawyer to make your case can repay you and your family for:
- Funeral expenses
- Accident-related medical costs
- Loss of income
A wrongful death settlement can also cover non-economic losses like pain and suffering or loss of companionship. These losses can be difficult to prove in court without an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Insurance Won’t Pay Out in Minnesota
If you aren’t insurance law savvy, it may be a good idea to seek legal advice. This is true even if you don’t plan to file a lawsuit against your insurer. A lawyer can help you understand your insurance benefits, file property damage claims, and negotiate your settlement.
But what happens if your insurance company offers you a less-than-fair settlement? Or, worse, what if your insurer won’t pay out at all? You should be asking yourself, Do I need a lawyer?
US law mandates that insurance companies act in good faith when it comes to negotiating your claim. Do you think your insurance company failed to meet this good faith requirement? Then you should absolutely call the best personal injury attorney in Buffalo, MN.
How Long Should You Wait Before Calling an Accident Attorney?
If you were injured in a car crash, you should call an attorney as soon as possible. But how soon is soon?
Minnesota requires you to file an accident report within 10 days of your car crash if the accident resulted in $1,000+ of property damage, injury, or death. Yet, police reports are often incomplete. An attorney can help collect evidence in case you need to file or respond to a suit.
But you may need to call a lawyer before those 10 days are up. Why? Insurance companies require policyholders to notify them about accidents “promptly,” usually within 5–10 days.
Seeking legal assistance before you file your insurance claim can help you avoid accidentally indicating yourself as being at fault for the crash. And this is critical. Because if you admit you were at fault, you won’t be able to recover losses.
Never wait too long to call a lawyer after an accident if you were injured. Minnesota’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim expires two years from the date of the accident. For a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of death.
Got In an Accident? Call a Personal Injury Lawyer in Buffalo, MN
Accidents happen, but now you’re asking yourself, do I need a lawyer in Buffalo? If you were injured in a car wreck that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to a settlement. Use this guide to determine whether you need a lawyer for an accident in Buffalo.
Still not sure if you have a personal injury case after your accident? Call for a free consultation with the best personal injury lawyer in Minnesota today, and we’ll help you decide if a lawsuit is worth it.