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You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Actions taken early on in your claim can substantially affect your claim later on down the road. A Minnesota personal injury lawyer can advise you as to your rights, and help protect your interests.
More and more commonly, insurance companies contact injured parties within a few weeks after the accident and offer them a few thousand dollars "to go away." Often, insurance companies like to make these early offers before an attorney is involved, before a personal injury claimant knows their rights, and possibly before a claimant knows the full extent of their injuries. Before accepting a settlement, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to make sure the settlement is fair, and that it is in your best interests. How long will my case take?
A personal injury case can take anywhere between a few months and a few years to resolve. Simple cases involving minor injuries generally take less time to resolve, whereas more complicated cases or cases involving more serious injuries may take longer to resolve. If a case goes to trial, that generally takes longer. Some factors that affect how long a case takes to resolve are the number of parties involved, the severity of the injuries, how many medical providers are involved, whether there are pre-existing conditions or subsequent accident, how many insurance companies are involved, whether there is wage loss involved, and whether liability is disputed.
In Minnesota, the no-fault law provides that your own insurance company covers up to $20,000.00 in medical expenses, and $20,000.00 in wage loss and/or replacement benefits following an auto accident, regardless of fault. Frequently, an injured person's own insurance company will seek to cut off their no-fault coverage after sending them to an independent medical exam. This denial of coverage can be disputed by filing a petition for No-Fault Arbitration.
In Minnesota, there are minimum requirements, or "tort thresholds" that must be met in order to claim non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment in life, in a motor vehicle liability case. You must meet one of the following tort thresholds in order to pursue non-economic damages:
As a rule, yes, you do have to attend. The insurance company has the right to request that you be examined by a doctor of their choosing. These so-called independent medical examinations are, however, anything but independent. After your exam, the doctor will provide an "expert" opinion to your insurance company regarding the nature and extent of your injuries and the reasonableness and necessity of any medical care or treatment. After your insurer receives this report, they will send you a letter advising you that your no-fault benefits are being discontinued. In the vast majority of cases, this report will say that you are fully recovered, that your ongoing symptoms are due to a pre-existing condition, or that you weren't injured at all. Once your insurance company has discontinued your no-fault benefits, your attorney can file a Petition for No-Fault Arbitration to dispute the discontinuance.
You do have to attend. A deposition is a formal statement taken under oath from witnesses, doctors, claimants and defendants. An attorney for the insurance company will ask you questions about your medical history, the circumstances of the accident, and your medical treatment. Your attorney will meet with you prior to the deposition to answer any questions you may have. You do not need to study or memorize dates before your deposition. You are simply required to testify truthfully to the best of your ability.