Can You Pursue Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

back of courtroom out of focusMost personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence, which means one party failed to uphold a duty of care and this breach resulted in an injury to someone else.

However, sometimes an at-fault party’s negligence is particularly egregious.  For example, drinking and driving is an extreme form of negligence.  When things like this happen, the victim may be able to pursue punitive damages.

Below, learn more about what punitive damages are, when they may be available, and how you can get more answers to these and other legal questions in a free consultation with a licensed attorney.

Minnesota Law on Punitive Damages

State law explains when personal injury victims may be able to pursue punitive damages.  They are only available when there is clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault party’s actions showed intentional disregard for the safety or rights of others.

There are two ways to prove someone acted with this level of willful disregard:

  • The at-fault party acted deliberately with conscious or intentional disregard for the high probability of others being injured
  • The at-fault party deliberately acted with indifference to the high probability of injury to the rights or safety or others

These damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and hopefully deter others from engaging in the same kind of behavior in the future.  They are not connected to the out-of-pocket costs or other losses suffered by the victim.

Types of Claims Where Punitive Damages May be Available

There is obviously room for interpretation on what something like conscious or intentional disregard for another’s safety means.

However, there are certain types of claims where punitive damages are often awarded:

  • Drunk-driving crashes
  • Defective product claims, particularly class action lawsuits
  • Medical malpractice cases where the victim is severely or permanently injured
  • Wrongful death cases

If you have reason to believe the at-fault party was intentionally negligent, or your injuries resulted from criminal behavior, we strongly recommend that you discuss your situation with a qualified attorney.

Our Bloomington personal injury lawyers know how to determine if punitive damages may be available and how to include them in your claim.

At TSR Injury Law, we work hard to obtain maximum compensation on behalf of our injured clients.  We are committed to holding the at-fault party financially responsible, especially under circumstances where he or she exhibited behavior that was willfully reckless or grossly negligent.

How Much are Punitive Damages Worth?

According to state law, the value of a punitive damages award is based on the factors that “justly bear upon the purpose of punitive damages”.  This may include things like:

  • Seriousness of the hazard to the public
  • Profitability of the misconduct
  • Whether the negligent conduct was concealed
  • How long the misconduct went on

Once a determination is made about your eligibility for compensatory damages, there will be a separate proceeding to determine if punitive damages may be also available.

The judge makes the determination about whether punitive damages will be awarded in a case.  There are no limits under state law regarding the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded.

Call TSR Injury Law to Discuss Your Claim

Meeting with one of our attorneys after an injury can be an important step to take as you consider your legal options.  Our firm has obtained over a billion in compensation on behalf of Minnesota personal injury victims.

The initial legal consultation is free and comes with no obligation to take legal action.  That means there is no risk to you in meeting with us to find out how we may be able to help you.  Read our testimonials page to see what our clients have to say about the services we provided them.

We are here to answer your legal questions.  Call (612) TSR-TIME.

How Car Insurance Companies Try to Mislead Crash Victims

male crash victim having difficult phone conversationFear, anxiety and confusion are just some of the emotions crash victims often experience.  Car insurance companies know this all too well, and they know how to use this to their advantage to try to avoid paying out fair compensation to crash victims.

Insurance adjusters know how to mislead auto accident victims, particularly on the phone.  They talk to crash victims all the time, so they know how to trick you into making statements they can use against you.  Below, learn more about misleading statements auto insurance companies often make when talking to crash victims.

The Minneapolis auto accident lawyers at TSR Injury Law have recovered over a billion in compensation for injury victims throughout the state.  This includes millions in compensation for car crash victims. Schedule an initial consultation today.

‘We Are on Your Side’

Insurance companies know crash victims are more likely to trust them if they feel the insurance company is on their side.  That is why they act friendly on the phone and may express concern over your injuries.  They may call to check up on you or ask if there is anything that they can help you with.

Understand, the insurance company’s goal is always to make a profit.  They make a profit by collecting premiums and paying out as little as possible when a claim is made.  Their goal is not to “help” you.  It is to settle as quickly and cheaply as possible.  If you feel they like you and care about you, you will settle for less out of trust.

‘We Want to Resolve This as Quickly as Possible’

While it may be true that the insurance company wants to resolve things quickly, they want to pay out as little as possible.  That is why they may offer you a settlement early in the process.  They know you need compensation for medical bills and other damages, and you may be willing to take it.  They also know you are unfamiliar with the legal process and that it is very difficult to calculate the full value of a claim so early in the process.

It is important to discuss the situation with an experienced attorney.  An initial consultation with an attorney from our firm is confidential and free.  We are dedicated to the best interests of our clients.

‘You Must Give a Recorded Statement’

When an insurance company asks for a recorded statement, you should think about why they are asking for one.  They may say it is part of the process and it can help move things along.  However, they often ask for this early in the process before you have completed your medical treatment and before the investigation of the accident has concluded.

The truth is you do not need to agree to provide a recorded statement.  Insurance companies can gather the proper documentation from police reports and medical records.  You should also discuss these requests with a licensed attorney, as he or she can advise you on what to say to protect your claim.

The problem with a recorded statement is it could be contradicted by statements you make later in the process.  You could also say things the insurance company could use against you, such as statements that make it seem like you are partially at fault.  Insurance adjusters know how to ask leading questions that often cause crash victims to say things they are unsure of.  This could damage your credibility.

‘You Are Partially at Fault’

You can still recover compensation for damages if you are partially at fault.  However, your final compensation award may be reduced by your percentage of fault.  That is why the insurance company will look for any reason to assign partial fault for the crash.  Even a 10% reduction of your claim is worth it to them because they try to reduce thousands of claims by 10% for “just being on the road.”

You need to be careful when discussing the accident.  Statements like, “I was in a rush” or “I should have been more careful” could be all the insurance company needs to assign you fault.

You should not take the insurance company’s word for it about your role in the accident.  You may be partially at fault, but this is something to discuss with your attorney.  He or she is dedicated to obtaining maximum compensation and working to prevent you from being assigned more fault than you deserve.

‘Lawyers Are Very Expensive’

The insurance company wants you to think this because they know if you hire an experienced attorney, he or she will pursue full compensation.  They know your attorney will negotiate and not accept lowball offers.

The truth is: your initial consultation is free of charge and our attorneys are not paid unless you receive compensation.  You can discuss how our lawyers are compensated in a free initial consultation.  People with attorney representation receive triple the compensation, on average, versus those with no legal help.  Even after paying the contingent fee to your attorney, you are out ahead.

See How TSR Injury Law May Be Able to Help You

Need help after a car crash?

Attempting to recover compensation on your own is a tall order, and the insurance company is dedicated to paying out the least possible amount of compensation.  They know how to manipulate crash victims into admitting fault or accepting a lowball settlement offer.

Our attorneys are dedicated to pursuing maximum compensation and holding the insurance company and at-fault driver accountable.

TSR Injury Law. Licensed. Local. Lawyers. Call today: (612) TSR-TIME.

How Long Could It Take to Resolve a Car Crash Claim?

meeting at desk about a legal issueWhen a car crash causes a serious injury, the victim is likely to have expensive medical bills and lost income because he or she is unable to work. This often creates a financial crisis and leaves victims anxious for compensation from a personal injury claim. That is why one of the first questions they have for an attorney is: how long will it take to receive a settlement check?

The answer is different for every claim. There are also many issues that could come up during the process that could cause delays. Sometimes your attorney will need to file a lawsuit to obtain maximum compensation for your damages.

If the insurance company contacts you to attempt to quickly resolve your claim, be careful. Settlements offered early in the process are often for far less than the full value of a claim. The licensed attorneys at TSR Injury Law are committed to resolving your claim quickly, but only for the maximum compensation available.

Call today to schedule a free consultation with a Bloomington auto accident lawyer. No upfront fees or obligations.

What Are the Steps in the Legal Process?

The first step in many personal injury claims is often a consultation with an attorney. This gives the victim a chance to confidentially discuss what happened and learn more about whether there is a valid case. It is important to meet with an attorney that has experience with a variety of car crash cases and a history of positive results.   The insurance companies know who the good law firms are and also know which ones will simply settle for an easy buck.  Quick settlement are often pennies on the dollar of the true value of a case.


The next step, if the attorney validates your claim, is an investigation. Your attorney can review the police report, evidence from the scene, witness testimony, medical records, medical bills and other expenses, and anything else relevant to your claim. For example, your attorney may formally request video footage of the crash or consult crash reconstruction experts.

The insurance company will conduct its own investigation to determine if your claim is valid and how much it may be worth. Keep in mind, the insurance company is looking for any reason to deny or devalue your claim. Adjusters and others involved in processing your claim may drag their feet and delay the process.

A common reason for a delay in your claim is the insurance company contesting fault for the crash. They may claim you are entirely to blame, or they may assign you a percentage of fault.  Insurance companies often argue you are at least 10% at fault for just being on the road.   This is not true, but they will always argue anything to limit their exposure.  If you hire an experienced lawyer, he or she can review your claim to determine if you bear any fault for what happened. He or she can also work to try to ensure you are not assigned more fault than you deserve.

Continuing Your Medical Treatment

While the investigation continues, you should continue your medical treatment. That means going to follow-up appointments, meeting with specialists, undergoing tests, following your doctor’s orders about limiting physical activity and other aspects of your recovery.

Claims are usually not resolved until the victim reaches the point of maximum medical improvement. That means the victim must be at a point where treatment is unlikely to cause marked improvement in your injury or the limitations it causes you. Your doctor should determine when you have reached this point. It could take anywhere from a few or several months to a few or several years for your condition to stop improving, or for you to make a full recovery.  You never want to settle your case and then need major medical treatment after for your injuries.

One potential delay in the process is the insurance company requesting an independent medical exam. It is important to discuss these types of requests with a licensed attorney. Independent medical examiners are often picked by the insurance company because they tend to reach conclusions that are favorable to the insurance company.  They are often the opposite of “independent”.

Sending a Demand Letter

When you reach maximum medical improvement, your lawyer can send a demand letter to the insurance company requesting compensation for your damages. At the point of maximum medical improvement your lawyer will be able to calculate the full value of past medical expenses and the estimated value of future medical expenses. Even though future and ongoing treatment may not improve your condition, your lawyer can still request compensation for these expenses.

The demand package may also include evidence of your injuries and the cause of the crash, such as pictures and video footage.


Once the demand letter is submitted, the insurance company can respond. The response will either be to accept the demand, reject it, or make a counteroffer. This is where negotiation between your lawyer and the insurance company usually begins. Both sides may go back and forth several times before a settlement is agreed upon.

Filing a Lawsuit

If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, your lawyer can file a lawsuit to pursue compensation. Sometimes filing a lawsuit motivates the insurance company to offer fair compensation. However, if the case gets to trial, this could be several months after your lawsuit was filed.


This is when both sides gather evidence to fortify their positions on fault and injury.  This may include written questions and answers, in person deposition or review of expert testimony based on the evidence. Both sides also share what they have collected with each other so they can re-evaluate their positions as more evidence come in.


This is often the last step before a trial. Both sides meet with a third-party mediator to attempt to resolve the situation.


Both sides call witnesses and present their case to the jury, and the jury will decide whether to award compensation and how much to award. If your case reaches this point, it could take anywhere from several months to more than a year from the date of the crash for your claim to be resolved.

Often one of the biggest reasons for the process taking a long time is the insurance company dragging its feet or not offering fair compensation.

Call TSR Injury Law to Learn More About the Legal Process

At our firm, we understand victims often have many questions about their claim and how an attorney may be able to assist them. That is why we offer a free, initial legal consultation with no obligation to take legal action.

We have recovered over a billion in compensation on behalf of our clients, and this includes many motor vehicle crash victims.

Learn more about how we could help you. Phone: (612) TSR-TIME.

Additional Car Insurance Coverage You Should Consider Purchasing

reviewing insurance documentsUnlike other states, Minnesota car crash victims generally turn to their own insurance policies first to obtain basic medical and wage loss compensation. They can file a claim against their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

Minnesota also requires you to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  If you are hurt by an uninsured driver, or a driver who does not have enough liability coverage, you can make a second claim for compensation to help recoup your losses.

There are additional, optional coverages available for purchase for Minnesota drivers. If you can afford these coverages, they could help you avoid the financial catastrophe that often results from a crash.

Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

Repairing your car can quickly become very expensive, particularly if the body sustains serious damage or engine components need to be replaced.  In addition, if there is a dispute about who is at fault, the other driver’s insurance may deny fixing your car until fault has been established.

Not having a functioning vehicle for even a few days can make life very difficult, as you need to figure out how to get to and from work, go out to run errands and transport children. Even if your policy has rental car coverage, that coverage may run out before your vehicle is fixed.

Your PIP, uninsured and underinsured coverages do not pay for fixing your vehicle.

However, collision coverage would pay for damage to your vehicle from the crash. Fault does not matter, and the coverage even pays for damage caused in a crash with an object. While this coverage is technically optional, lenders often require drivers to purchase this coverage before approving a car loan.

Another optional coverage is comprehensive, which pays for losses that do not result from a collision. For example, a tree branch falls on your car or your car is stolen or damaged in a fire. These are all examples of damages that may be covered by comprehensive coverage. Damage from a crash with a deer or other wild animal may also be covered.

Roadside Assistance Coverage

If you need to call a tow truck to tow your vehicle, change a flat tire or jump-start your battery, you can use this coverage to help pay for it. The cost of towing is often calculated on a cost-per-mile basis, so the cost could add up quickly if your vehicle needs to be towed a long distance.

Gap Coverage

Many people may not be aware of how easy it can be for a car to sustain such severe damage that the insurance company declares it a total loss. There is no exact formula, but if it costs more than 85% of the value of your car to fix, the insurance company will total it.  Unless you are in a relatively new car or the damage is mostly cosmetic in nature, the cost of repairing the damage could easily be more than your vehicle is worth.

If you are still paying off the loan on your car and it is declared a total loss, you will still owe the balance of your loan.  Car values depreciate rapidly.  New car owners often face the worst situations as they have a brand-new car with a $30,000.00 loan, but within a week the car is only “worth” $25,000.00.  If your car is totaled, Gap Coverage will pay for the $5,000.00 “gap” between what is owed on the loan and what the car is currently worth.

You could also use gap coverage if you leased your vehicle. It usually does not cost much to add this to your insurance policy.

Contact TSR Injury Law for Help With Your Car Crash Claim

After a car crash, one of the most important decisions you can make is choosing a Bloomington auto accident lawyer to represent you as you seek compensation.

At TSR Injury Law, we have obtained over a billion in compensation on behalf of our clients, including many motor vehicle accident victims. Read more about what our satisfied clients have said about the services we provide on our testimonials page.

There is no risk in contacting us because there is no fee for your initial consultation and no obligation to hire us. We also do not get paid for our services unless you receive compensation.

Have questions? Call TSR Injury Law today at (612) TSR-TIME.