When someone has suffered injury and loss due to the negligence of another person or company, the injured person or their family may have a claim against the negligent party for the losses sustained because of that negligence. Those losses can include past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and other “damages.”

The injured party can pursue a claim against the at-fault individual or company whose insurance frequently provides “coverage” for the claim. Individuals and companies have different types of insurance (automobile, homeowners, etc.) that are regulated by the insurance policies themselves as well as state and sometimes federal law.

A claim against an individual or a company is generally handled by that person or company’s insurance company. The insurer will frequently want information about the circumstances surrounding the injury as well as the nature and extent of the injured person’s damages. This can include accident/policy reports, photographs, medical records, bills, and other documents and information. Some claims also involve video footage (i.e. a security or surveillance camera), text messages, emails, and other types of electronic or digital data. Many insurance companies also try to take a statement from the injured party.

There are typically two parts to a negligence claim in which a person has been injured: liability and damages.

Liability involves the facts surrounding the injury-causing incident and whether the injured party can prove that someone was negligent. Determining liability in a case will involve the actions of the involved parties, any regulations and/or laws that apply, and many other factors that vary significantly.

Damages looks at whether the injuries were caused by the negligence (as opposed to some other cause) as well as how severe the injuries are and how much the losses cost (medical expenses and wage loss). Damages can also include the stress, emotional hardship, and other harms that an injured person suffers from an incident. Most injured people require the support of their medical providers to prove their damages.

An insurance company will not pay money more than once on a negligence claim. That money is paid either in a settlement or as a result of a judgment from a trial. As a result, it is important to have as much information as possible when discussing resolution of a negligence claim.

If a negligence claim does not settle, then under some circumstances it can be appropriate to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. There are deadlines, or “statutes of limitations,” that apply to such a lawsuit that vary.

Timelines and procedures for a negligence claim in Minnesota vary. However, the sequence of events is typically as follows:

  • A claim is started by communicating with the at-fault party and/or that party’s insurance company. Generally, the at-fault party’s insurance company takes over and may request basic information regarding the claim which can include statements, executed authorizations, and other documentation and information.
  • The injured party (you) does as much as possible to recover from the injury. This generally involves receiving medical treatment and can take anywhere from a month to several years. (The reason there is a 6-year statute of limitations for most negligence claims is because of how long it can take to recover from some injuries. People are not expected to resolve their claims if they do not know what if any long-term effects will remain.)
  • Once you have recovered as much as possible, we will collect updated information and documentation to properly analyze the claim. Then, we will meet with you to review your claim and put together a settlement demand to send to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
  • The at-fault party’s insurance company can take anywhere from a couple of days to over a year to review and respond to a settlement demand.
  • At any point during the claims and settlement process but before the statute of limitations expires, we can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Lawsuits are generally filed if we are unable to agree upon settlement terms. They can also be filed if we do not want to wait for the at-fault party’s insurance company to respond to a demand or if there is some other good reason to commence litigation sooner rather than later. We file a lawsuit by serving the at-fault party with a Summons and Complaint.

You can find out more about civil lawsuits here: https://www.duluthtriallawyers.com/faq-items/what-happens-in-a-civil-lawsuit-in-minnesota/