Why does it matter in which state I make my bodily injury claim?
The laws governing the rights of an injured worker, motorist, or customer are specific the each of the 50 states, differing from those of the other states in many important respects. As a law firm specializing in bodily injury claims and workers compensation law located in Duluth, MN, Falsani, Balmer, Peterson & Balmer are unique in our expertise in the legal systems of both Wisconsin and Minnesota, State and Federal.
Injuries occurring in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or even Canada may not always belong in the court system we might assume. Because the parties to the injury might be from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Canada, or some combination, your attorneys should know the differences in the laws of each place before making recommendations to you about which court systems are available to you. If you are shopping for the right law firm to represent you in an injury and may have a choice in selecting which court in which state to proceed, be sure to ask about their knowledge of these differences so you know how best to proceed.
The most important distinction may be in automobile insurance coverage. Manitoba and Ontario have very broad, extensive insurance requirements that also significantly limit the injured party’s right to pursue a claim. Michigan has insurance requirements similar in effect to Manitoba’s and Ontario’s. Minnesota also has such regulations, but they are much more limited and so do not markedly restrict the injured party’s right to compensation from the legally-responsible parties. Wisconsin’s are least-restrictive, but impose only modest minimum insurance requirements on motorists; Wisconsin law is friendlier to automobile insurers than that of any of the other mentioned places.
Wisconsin law is more generous to injured people seeking to recover for harm resulting from injury caused by another party than is Minnesota law, regardless of whether the injury occurred in an automobile or otherwise. Put differently, recovering compensation for injury from the legally-responsible party is easier in Wisconsin than in Minnesota, once legal responsibility has been established.
Some laws regarding establishing legal responsibility are different in Wisconsin than they are in Minnesota. Building owners and lessees are more easily held legally responsible for injuries suffered on the premises by members of the public in Wisconsin than Minnesota. But legal claims against virtually anyone who may have been responsible for injury are considered legally actionable in Minnesota, unlike Wisconsin which continues to follow strict rules on who may be held legally responsible for harm.
Rules of evidence and procedure in Wisconsin are more intricate and different than Minnesota’s, but on balance make trying the action to a judge and jury easier. One exception is Minnesota’s “sunshine rule” which obligates the judge to explain to the jury the impact their decision has on the outcome of the trial, a rule absent in Wisconsin.
This description contains generalizations useful for beginning an understanding of the importance of comparing the laws of these various places to each other to decide where to start your legal claim. The application of laws specific to your claim should be discussed with the lawyers you are considering retaining to get a more precise idea of what is best for you. Talk to an attorney to find out what course of action is best for you.