Personal Injury FAQs
Personal injury law is one of the most common ways to interact with the legal system. It is, at its core, the system that allows injured people to get the money they need to pay for their medical bills. Unfortunately, it is a complex process that causes confusion and frustration for many.
At Bennerotte & Associates, P.A., we know you’ve got a lot to worry about and a lot to do after an injury. One of the things you don’t want to do is go forward without answers. Below, we’ve put together answers to some of the most common questions we hear to help guide you going forward.
How will I pay my medical bills?
Your injuries are likely more costly than you can afford. Now, in most cases, you may rely on whatever medical insurance you have. However, when your injuries are the fault of someone else, that person is responsible for paying for your medical bills. Often, you will file a claim with their insurance to recover compensation for your injuries. However, doing so means you have started the personal injury claims process, which is extremely complicated.
What is the personal injury claims process?
The personal injury process is how you pursue compensation. In an informal sense, the entire system breaks down into three phases:
- The injury phase: This is the entire time from the moment of the accident up to the completion of your initial treatment. Here you’ll talk with lots of doctors and make a lot of decisions that will make an impact on everything that comes later.
- The billing phase: In this piece, you may start to receive your first bills from the hospital or get contacted by insurers seeking information. This is a sensitive moment for you because you may not have all the information you need to answer the questions they ask you.
- The litigation phase: In the litigation phase, you realize you have a legal problem. You may find insurers denying your claims. You may find yourself the target of a lawsuit for damages. You need legal help, and you need it fast.
Primarily, the personal injury process will determine how much you receive in damages, both economic damages, such as hospital bills and lost wages from missing work, and noneconomic damages.
What are noneconomic damages?
Noneconomic damages are damages that don’t necessarily have a price tag that you can find easily. For example, you can provide a bill for all of the medical procedures you’ve undergone, but you can’t put a price on how much stress you were under. Your mental anguish, your pain and suffering, your loss of companionship: these are all impossible to calculate. Noneconomic damages can often include punitive damages as well.
Minnesota does place some limits on eligibility for noneconomic damages. Essentially, unless certain other aspects of your case exceed $4,000, you may not be eligible. In most cases of a personal injury claim, your economic damages will often exceed that.
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are somewhat different from other noneconomic damages. Punitive damage is a punishment for the at-fault party. According to Minnesota law, there are only some instances where punitive damages are used. These include:
- Evidence of “conscious disregard” of likely injury to others
- Evidence of indifference to the possible injuries
When punitive damages are a part of the discussion, the at-fault party is thought to have acted especially egregiously.
What is strict liability?
Strict liability is a concept under product liability law in general. It allows a company to be held liable for injuries caused by their products even if they did everything right. The concept of strict liability applies under Minnesotan product liability law and dog bite matters.
What should I say to an insurance company?
One of the most important things you can do when insurance companies start to contact you is to ration out how much information you give them. Often the wisest thing to say to an insurance company is, “I’ll have my attorney get back to you.”
You want to be careful when you communicate with insurers because they are not on your side. They don’t care about your injury or how much you’ve suffered. They only want to spend as little as possible on your care.
What if I was partially at fault?
If you are partly at fault for your crash, you still have the opportunity to recover compensation under Minnesota law. Due to what is known as “comparative liability,” you can be up to 50% at fault for the accident and still receive some compensation. In this case, the judge will reduce your final result after the trial concludes.
How long will this take?
Personal injury lawsuits can take a long time. Settling a lawsuit can make it go faster, but settling too quickly can leave you unable to recover the compensation you need. That’s why you need to work with a dedicated legal team, like Bennerotte & Associates, P.A. Contact our office at 651-364-6807 for a free consultation.