What Should I Do if the Insurance Company Offers a Quick Settlement?

offering a settlementInsurance companies often offer compensation to victims very quickly. They know victims are anxious to receive compensation because of mounting medical expenses, car damage, rental bills and wage loss. Sometimes insurance companies will try to settle the property claim and then add a few dollars for the “rest of the claim” when an injured person does not understand what they are settling for. Insurance companies also know victims have no idea what a “case” is worth, and that people receive on average three times more with legal representation.

However, it rarely is a good idea to accept a quick settlement. Learn more about why insurers make settlement offers to victims and how you should respond.

Reach out to an experienced Bloomington personal injury lawyer from TSR Injury Law to discuss the insurance company’s settlement offer. We may be able to help you obtain fair compensation for the damages you have sustained.

Initial Offers are Usually Too Low

If an insurance company offers a settlement soon after a crash, it is likely to be worth much less than the full value of your damages. The insurance company is looking to close out the claim quickly and pay out the lowest amount of compensation it can. Insurance companies are not concerned about you receiving fair compensation or fully recovering for the losses from your crash. They are businesses focused on profit. The less they pay out for claims, the more profit they make.

Insurance companies like to offer quick settlements because victims often take them, out of fear they may not get another offer. They also may feel anxious as bills and expenses pile up and they cannot work.

Once you settle your claim, you give up the right to pursue more insurance compensation and the right to file a lawsuit. This is devastating if you later find out your injuries were more severe than you first knew or discover the true value of the claim was short by a multiple of three.

Can I Counter?

Many accident victims are afraid to reject an insurance company’s offer because they fear that they will not make another offer. However, the first offer is usually not the last one the insurance company will make. The insurance company has an incentive to settle claims outside of court to avoid the cost and uncertainty of trial. They expect you to negotiate. The greater issue is injured people do not know the “value” of the claim. A first or last offer is usually much less than what the same claim is worth with legal representation. Why? Because attorneys that specialize in the area have thousands of other claims to compare to and most importantly, if the insurance company does not act fairly, a lawyer can hold them legally accountable. Injured people can only be mad about low offers.  An attorney can actually do something about it and the firm’s reputation of prior litigation success also plays into the insurance company offer. The law allows for a multitude of claims. They include:

  • The cost of past medical bills
  • The anticipated cost of future medical care
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages

In addition to damages that are easier to calculate (like wage loss) there are “soft” damages to consider. These include the effects the accident may have on your life, such as:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship

When Should You Settle?

The reality is that most personal injury claims settle, many before a lawsuit is ever filed. It is your case and ultimately your decision when you decide to settle. However, it is a good idea to discuss the situation with an experienced lawyer, who can help determine the fair value of your claim. A free legal consultation is key to any educated decision.

Your lawyer will likely advise you not to settle your claim until you have healed from your accident. At that point, your lawyer can better determine the cost of future medical care and how your injury may affect your life moving forward. A lawyer can also settle part of the claim and keep other parts open.  For example, the car damage and rental can be settled quickly, but the end injury claim can remain open if the proper release is used.

Contact TSR Injury Law for Help

You do not have to confront the insurance company alone. The experienced attorneys at TSR Injury Law may be to help you pursue maximum compensation from the insurance company. You do not have to accept a lowball settlement offer from the insurance company that will not fully compensate you for the damages you suffered.

Contact us today to schedule your free case review. (612) TSR-TIME

Strategies that Insurance Companies May Use to Defend Against a Dog Bite Claim

siberian husky in distanceYou may have heard that insurance companies are notorious for looking for ways to deny or devalue claims. They do this with all kinds of claims, including dog bite claims.  Dog bite claims are strict liability claims based on Minnesota Statute 347.22.  Victims do not need to prove “negligence”, as is typical in normal injury cases, but strict liability does not mean absolute liability.

One of the common defenses against liability for a dog attack is to claim the victim provoked the dog. Minnesota’s dog bite statute states owners can be held liable if their dog attacks without being provoked.

Below, our experienced Bloomington dog bite attorneys discuss provocation for a dog attack and how insurance companies may use this defense to avoid liability for a dog bite victim’s damages.

What Does Provocation Mean?

Provocation is often the strongest defense to dog bite injury claims. Provocation involves acts that cause the dog to become excited, angered, irritated, impassioned, or stimulated so that an attack is much more likely.

There are many factors that must be considered to determine if a dog was provoked, including the dog’s:

  • Temperament
  • Responses immediately before and after the potentially provocative act
  • Medical condition
  • Previous history of behavior

Burden of Proof for Provocation

There must be a cause-and-effect relationship between the alleged provocative act and the dog’s response.

For example, in a case where a young child accidentally steps on a dog’s tail while the dog is gnawing on a bone, it may be found the child provoked the dog. The dog’s response may be considered reasonable, even though the child was young.  Each case is fact specific and even under this scenario, there may be liability, but the defense will be made.

However, in a case in which a mail carrier is attacked by a dog, causing him or her to use repellant spray, it may be very difficult to prove provocation. The mail carrier may be able to prove he or she acted in self-defense.

Examples of Provocation

Provocation is determined on a case-by-case basis, so what is considered provocation in one case may not be considered provocation in another.

Some examples of acts that may be considered provocation include the following:

  • A young child hugs an unfamiliar dog, pats the dog hard or playfully pulls its tail
  • Someone accidentally steps on the dog’s tail
  • A child or adult pets the dog while it is eating or chained up
  • A person intervenes in a dog fight

You should consider discussing the circumstances leading up to the dog bite with an experienced dog bite injury lawyer to learn if you may have a claim.

Trespassing as a Defense

Minnesota’s dog bite statute states that a dog bite injury victim may be eligible for compensation damages for an attack that occurred “in any place where the person may lawfully be.” Therefore, if the injury occurred while the victim was trespassing or was not lawfully on the property, the victim may not have a case.

However, if the victim was a child, the dog owner may still be held liable. This is because landowners generally have a legal duty to protect trespassing children because they do not have the necessary judgment to understand and avoid dangerous conditions.

Contact TSR Injury Law to Set Up a Free Consultation

If you or your child was bitten by a dog and you are concerned about the defenses the insurance company may use, it is important to contact an experienced dog bite injury lawyer at TSR Injury Law. These situations may be complex, but you may still be eligible to recover compensation.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. (612) TSR-TIME

How Does Minnesota’s No-Fault Insurance System Affect Car Crash Claims?

form for car insurance claimIn most states, car crash victims pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy after an accident. However, Minnesota is one of a handful of states that follows a no-fault insurance system for motor vehicle accidents.

This system can have a significant impact on your ability to recover full compensation for your damages or pursue a claim against the at-fault party.

The experienced Minneapolis car accident lawyers at TSR Injury Law have represented many injury victims, helping them to obtain compensation. Call today to request a free, no-obligation consultation. We are ready to discuss your situation, answer your legal questions and explain more about Minnesota’s no-fault system.

What Does No-Fault Mean?

There are a lot of misconceptions about no-fault coverage. No-fault means that fault is not a consideration in awarding compensation for medical bills, wage loss or some property damage claims. Rather than pursuing compensation for these damages from the at-fault party, injured victims must file a claim with their own insurance companies. The insurance company will provide compensation for covered losses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

That said, no-fault does not mean the insurance company will pay for all the losses victims suffered in the crash. No-fault insurance only covers the expenses that directly result from your injuries.

No-fault insurance is also called Basic Economic Loss Benefits.

Deadline for Filing a No-Fault Claim in Minnesota

A no-fault claim must be presented within a reasonable amount of time after a crash. Each policy will contain language determining the time, but the general rule is the sooner after a crash you file a claim, the better.

If you were injured in a crash, call your agent and set up a claim immediately. Legal help can ensure the forms are correctly filled out and preclude the insurance company from gathering improper information.

It is common for insurance companies to ask for an Application for Benefits, medical releases, wage loss forms and statements of crash facts. Some require an independent doctor to review them before bills are processed.

What Are the Pros and Cons of No-Fault?

The no-fault system was established to ease the burden on courts and allow accident victims to receive prompt treatment for their injuries without worrying about who was at fault or if the bad driver even had proper insurance.

In other words, it takes a lot less time to process these claims compared to claims against the other driver’s liability insurance. This means less stress and fewer hassles for injured victims.

However, there are disadvantages to Minnesota’s no-fault insurance system. The biggest disadvantage is that this system limits your ability to file a bodily injury claim against the at-fault driver. Your claim must clear a certain threshold, otherwise, you cannot seek compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages from the liable driver.

Another downside to no-fault claims is that they do not hold the other driver accountable. Although this may be disappointing to some crash victims, they can still recover significant compensation from their no-fault coverage.

When Did Minnesota Become a No-Fault Insurance State?

Minnesota’s no-fault car insurance law took effect on January 1st, 1975. Since then, several more states have enacted their own no-fault laws. As of January 2023, there are 11 other no-fault states, including Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah. The remaining 38 states have fault-based systems, also called tort systems.

What Are the No-Fault Benefits in Minnesota?

Minnesota law requires all licensed drivers to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which is the no-fault component of your insurance.

Minimum Requirements for PIP Coverage

The state minimum for PIP coverage is $40,000 per person per accident. The $40,000.00 is divided into two $20,000.00 claims. Up to $20,000 of this amount can be used to pay for hospital and medical expenses and the remaining $20,000 covers non-medical expenses like lost wages and replacement services like housekeeping.

There are limits and time considerations for each claim. For example, the first 7 days are free for replacement services.

What Medical Expenses Are Covered by No-Fault Insurance?

Minnesota crash victims can seek compensation for all reasonable medical expenses for necessary care, which may include:

  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Prescription medications
  • Hospital stays
  • X-rays
  • Transportation to the hospital in an ambulance
  • Chiropractic care
  • Prosthetic devices
  • And more

Income Loss Benefits

If the injury you suffered in the crash prevents you from working, your PIP insurance provides up to 85 percent of your present and future gross income, with a maximum of $500 per week. This includes the cost of hiring someone else to do the things necessary to maintain your income if you are self-employed.

Funeral Expenses

PIP also covers $5,000.00 for funeral expenses in case the crash caused death.

Increasing Your PIP Coverage

You can purchase more than the minimum amount of PIP insurance if you want to. If you own multiple vehicles with the same company, “stacking” the benefits is also available. This will double or triple the coverage available. For example, if you own two cars and stack benefits, you will have $40,000.00 in medical and $40,000.00 in wage coverage. The weekly wage benefits would also go from $500 to $1000.00 and replacement services from $200.00 a week to $400.00.

What Are the Priorities for No-Fault Coverage in Minnesota?

There may be various no-fault policies that may cover you in the event of an accident.

While there are exceptions, these are the typical priorities for no-fault coverage:

  1. The vehicle you own and are insured with;
  2. If you do not own an insured vehicle, you may get coverage from a resident relative’s policy;
  3. If you do not live with a relative who has an insured vehicle, you may be covered by the car insurance of a vehicle you were a passenger in or that struck you as a pedestrian.
  4. Assigned Claims is free no-fault coverage that is available to certain injured people. If you do not own an insured vehicle, do not reside with anyone who owns an insured vehicle and the car that you are in (but do not own) or that hits you has no insurance, then you may qualify for free coverage.

How No-Fault Affects the Ability to File a Car Accident Lawsuit

After a crash, you must first collect on your PIP benefits. After that, and if you meet the injury threshold, you may be eligible to file an injury claim (also called a bodily injury claim) for pain and suffering against the at fault driver’s insurance. There are five thresholds.

  1. Death
  2. $4,000.00 in medical treatment not including X-Ray or MRI scans
  3. Permanent injury
  4. Unable to attend work for at least 60 days
  5. Have a permanent disfigurement, like a scar, from the crash

Some crashes may meet one of these criteria, which is why all Minnesota drivers are required to carry the minimum insurance coverage of:

  • $30,000 in liability insurance for one person’s bodily injury
  • $60,000 of liability insurance for injuries to two or more people
  • $10,000 for damage to the victim’s vehicle

What if the At-Fault Driver is Uninsured or Underinsured?

Minnesota law also requires drivers to carry uninsured coverage of $25,000 for injuries to one person, $50,000 for injuries to two or more people and $10,000 for property damage. Additionally, drivers must carry underinsured coverage of $25,000 for injuries to one person and $50,000 for injuries to two or more people.

You can make a claim under these policies if the other driver’s liability insurance is insufficient to cover the damages stemming from the crash. You may also be able to make a claim under your comprehensive or collision coverage.

What Compensation Can You Recover in a Car Accident Lawsuit?

If your crash was so severe that you have the right to step outside of the no-fault system to file a liability insurance claim or lawsuit, you can seek compensation for the damages not covered by your PIP insurance.

These damages may include:

  • Physical pain and emotional suffering: These are the physical pain and psychological/emotional toll caused by your injuries, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, lost enjoyment of life and lost companionship.
  • Medical expenses that exceed PIP coverage: Some examples include ongoing medical care that arise after the conclusion of your case.
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Lost wages
  • And more

How an Injury Lawyer Can Help

If you were injured in a crash, it is important for you to seek medical attention. After that, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your claim.

Although no-fault insurance is intended to make the claims process easier, many of our clients have not had this experience until they hired us. Their claims are sometimes wrongfully denied, or they are subjected to unnecessary delays.

The personal injury team at TSR Injury Law is dedicated to helping victims receive maximum compensation. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your claim in more detail.

Contact us today to learn about your legal rights. (612) TSR-TIME

Compensation After an Accident in a Rental Car

signing up to rent a carThe last thing people want to deal with after renting a car is an accident. You may be renting a car because your regular car was damaged in an accident. You may also be on vacation.

If this type of accident happens, there may be a few options for pursuing compensation for damages. The dedicated Bloomington car accident lawyers at TSR Injury Law are prepared to guide you through this process, if you have a valid claim and hire us to represent you.

Insurance Coverage for Rental Car Accidents

The first question is to determine what type of insurance coverage you have. You may be financially on the hook for damages caused to the rental car even if someone else caused the accident, based on the agreement that you made with the rental car company, so it is important that you try to identify what insurance policies may apply to your situation.

Minnesota law requires every auto insurance policy to provide of minimum $30,000 in liability coverage without a deductible for any property damage to a rental car. When a driver rents a vehicle in Minnesota, there must be a separate notice attached to the rental contract that notifies the driver of this coverage.

The notice must also state that a collision damage waiver or similar insurance is not necessary if the driver’s auto policy was issued in Minnesota. In fact, car rental companies cannot sell any collision damage waiver or other insurance on the rented vehicle unless the driver signs a document saying that he or she read and understands the notice.

If your damages exceed the Minnesota rental car coverage limit or you did not purchase an auto insurance policy in Minnesota, you may have other options for covering your auto accident damages.

Rental Car Company Insurance

You may be offered additional insurance coverage by the rental car company. Some insurance products that are frequently offered during this transaction include the following:

  • Collision damage waiver – This type of coverage prevents you from being liable for any repair or replacement costs if you are in an accident or the vehicle is stolen. However, there are some exceptions.
  • Liability coverage – This coverage pays for the property damage, injury and medical expenses that others incurred as a result of your negligence.
  • Personal accident insurance – This type of insurance pays for the injuries you and your passengers sustained while in the rental vehicle.
  • Personal effects coverage – This coverage pays for your personal belongings that are damaged during the accident in your rental car.

Your Car Insurance

Your own car insurance coverage may apply to damage that occurs while you are in a rental car. In some situations, your own coverage may overlap with what the rental car company is offering you. You might be required to provide proof of your insurance coverage from your own auto insurance policy if you decline coverage from the rental company.

Credit Card Company Insurance

If you rent the vehicle with a credit card, you might have insurance that automatically applies to your rental car.

Deductibles and Coverage Limits

Your insurance policy may have specific deductibles and coverage limits. It is important that you understand these terms in your policy.

The deductible is the amount that you pay out of pocket before the claim can be resolved. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible, you would have to pay $1,000 before the insurance carrier would cover the rest of the loss. Even though Minnesota’s rental car coverage does not require a deductible, a deductible may apply to other aspects of your accident.

The insurance company will only pay up to the coverage limits of any insurance policy you have with it. You will be responsible for any damages that exceed the coverage limits.

When purchasing insurance for your rental car, be sure that you contact your own insurance company to determine the type of coverage you have already, the policy limits and the deductible.

Contact TSR Injury Law for Help

If you were involved in an accident in a rented car, the claims process may be complicated. The experienced attorneys at TSR Injury Law understand the many factors involved and have a track record of recovering fair compensation for car accident victims.

Our dedicated personal injury lawyers work diligently to secure maximum compensation to help victims move forward after an accident.

The consultation is free and there is no obligation so there is no risk to you. Call (612) TSR-TIME today.

TSR Helps Give Back to Community Through Toys for Tots Toy Drive

steve terry collecting toy donationsOur firm has once again taken part in the Toys for Tots toy drive. We donated toys for boys and girls between the ages of three and 18.

We are delighted to continue giving back to the community we serve. Since 1998, our legal team has been advocating for injury victims and their families throughout Minnesota.

The Toys for Tots program has distributed 566 million toys since 1947 and supported 258 million children. Local campaigns to collect toys are the heart of this initiative, which is managed by dedicated United States Marines and local volunteers.

From all of us here at TSR Injury Law, we wish you Happy Holidays.