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Minnesota is a no-fault automobile state. This means that when you are in a collision there are basic benefits of medical bills, wage loss, medical mileage,and replacement services that will be covered by your own car insurance policy. The no-fault benefits go back to a deal from the 1970s where insurance companies got tort thresholds (items proving a severe enough injury to bring a personal injury claim) in return for guaranteeing that they would provide no-fault coverage. Using your no-fault benefits does not raise your insurance rates and should be a relatively easy and fast system.

This past month we have been looking at some of the many ways we have seen people get denied the benefits they should have and paid for.

"There was drinking involved.” It is funny to hear adjusters that I know minimized talk about drinking of a defendant, who sound like prohibitionists when a plaintiff has been drinking. Sure it can be an issue, but don’t let an adjuster bluff you.

They tell you the value of your case. It is probably a savings and what they want to pay you. You can ask them what the number comes from, but I doubt it will be any fairer an explanation than the offer.

Everyone is at fault. This comes from the belief that you are at fault for just being there. That’s nonsense and not supported by any law. Don’t buy that getting up that morning made you at fault.

Friendly adjusters are often just gaining information. They want you talking and to find ways to get you to help them close a file. Do you have money concerns they can exploit? If you tell them, they will take advantage of it.

They will take care of your bills, Sometimes they do, but do they negotiate to get you more money or to save them money? Do they get proper releases so you aren’t open to future concerns?

They ask a lot of questions. It is interesting to hear how after a case changes, the law or a statute is revised, suddenly there can be different questions from the adjusters. Remember they get legal memos all the time that teach them how to minimize your claim.

They ask you to sign authorizations. If they are blank, they can use them almost anywhere. If they allow copying , they can use them multiple places. Unless there is a limitation, they can talk to your doctors. Those are just a few of the differences between what an experienced lawyer will allow them to have vs. what they will ask you for.

Ask them how many claims they are handling. They may or may not answer, but do you think you are really anything more than a number to them? Will they take the time to really understand your loss and fight for you to get the right amount?

Who do they get paid by? Their check comes from the company that you are dealing with. A plaintiff’s lawyer’s pay comes from what they get for you. They are your employee. Who is more likely to have your interest in mind?

Do they talk to you about whether you should hire a lawyer? Odds are if they do, they give you reasons not to hire one. Is the “why” because they are trying to protect your interest or their company’s money?

Always ask yourself if they are giving you legal advice. Because if they are, that’s illegal. They aren’t lawyers and they are practicing law. It doesn’t matter what experience they claim. They have no duty to tell you the truth or protect your interest.

If you are in a motor vehicle collision in Minnesota, you need to notify your insurance agent in order to start the no-fault process. If you have questions, you should talk to an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of injuries.

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