Minnesota Car Accident Laws

Following a car accident in Minnesota, you should first seek compensation from your insurance company.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you get into a car accident in Minnesota, you should first make a claim against your insurance company. If your losses are particularly severe, you may be able to recover damages from the at-fault party in a personal injury lawsuit.
Even a minor fender-bender usually registers as a jolt. Suddenly, your regular commute to work or to your children’s soccer practice just became a little more complicated—you’ve got to inspect the damage and make sure you have what you need to get it repaired later. But does your
car insurance
company always have to be involved, and what happens if you sustain serious injuries or damage?
As a licensed insurance broker,
wants to make sure you’re taken care of before and after any accidents. That’s why we’ve created a complete guide to Minnesota’s car accident laws. Read on for the answers to your questions about police reports, uninsured drivers, no-fault insurance, and more. We'll even help you find the lowest
Minnesota car insurance costs
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What to do after a crash: Minnesota car accident reporting laws

Immediately after you've been in a car accident, you need to stop your vehicle and assess yourself and your passengers for injuries. If you can’t see any visible trauma, but somebody seems unresponsive, pale, clammy, or “out of it,” call 911 right away. Shock and concussions can turn deadly if left unattended.
If possible, try to move your vehicle to a safe location. The roadside, a driveway, or a nearby parking lot will do. Put on your hazard lights.
Now you can take a look at the crash. Try and document as many details as you can, either by writing them down or taking photos. Take a walk around every vehicle on the scene. When you’ve finished examining the damage, it’s time to
exchange insurance information
Ask each driver for their:
  • Name
  • Contact information
  • License plate number
  • Insurance provider
  • Insurance policy number
You might want to gather contact information from nearby witnesses as well, as they could be helpful when you try to recreate what happened later on. After you’ve spoken to everyone at the scene, it’s time to move on to other parties, like the police, the DMV, and your insurance company. Here’s when and how you should get in touch with them.

When to report an accident to the police

If there are no injuries and the total damage to all vehicles involved in the accident is less than $1,000, you don’t have to report it to the police. If, however, the damage exceeds $1,000, somebody was injured, or somebody died, you must call 911.
Minnesota Statute 169.09, subd. 6 (2021)
doesn’t give a specific timeline but requires that you notify a police officer by the quickest means possible after you’ve seen to the safety of you and your passengers. Otherwise, your license could be suspended.
As of July 1st, 2021, citizens are no longer required to file a crash report. The police officer who arrives on the scene will do so once they’ve finished their investigation. You can access the police crash report three weeks after the accident by filling out a
Crash Record Request Form
and paying a $5 feeonly the people involved in the accident (or their legal representative or next of kin, where applicable) can access crash records.

When to report an accident to the DMV

Since Minnesota Statutes
no longer require citizens to fill out a crash report
, there’s no need to notify the Department of Public Safety (DPS) or Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) yourself.

When to report an accident to your car insurance company

Most insurance companies require that you notify them of every car accident, no matter how minor. Any time limits will be outlined in your insurance policy. Start by giving them the details by phone, then follow up with a summary in writing (make sure to keep a copy for yourself). 
Failing to notify your insurer is a breach of your insurance agreement and could result in complications later on. For example, your insurer could refuse the claims you make for the incident in question, or refuse to insure you in the future. Once informed, your insurance company has
up to 30 days
to investigate the accident and determine the extent of liability and coverage.
Is the damage minor? Would you prefer to pay for it yourself and keep your no-claims bonus? Send a letter with details of the accident, but stress that it’s “for information only” and that you don’t want to make a claim—in some cases, paying for a minor repair is cheaper than losing your discount, especially if you’re on a years-long streak.

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Minnesota’s insurance laws

Now is probably a good time to go over what’s included in your insurance policy and how it can help you after an accident.
Minnesota's minimum car insurance laws
require drivers to demonstrate financial responsibility by purchasing an insurance policy with minimum amounts of coverage. These minimums follow a 30/60/10 rule, meaning your
liability coverage
must include at least:
In addition, since Minnesota is a no-fault state, drivers must purchase $40,000 of
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
per person per accident, which includes:
  • $20,000 of PIP for medical expenses
  • $20,000 of PIP for non-medical expenses)
But that’s not all!
Minnesota Statute 65B
also mandates the purchase of
Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage
, which includes:
  • $25,000 for injuries to one person
  • $50,000 for injuries to two or more people
The latter will protect you from the
9.9% of Minnesota drivers who don’t carry car insurance
. Speaking of which, failing to provide proof of insurance to an officer when requested could subject you to a
misdemeanor conviction
, a jail sentence of up to 90 days, and a $200 to $1,000 fine. It might also affect your chances of recovering damages through a personal injury lawsuit. 

Minnesota’s no-fault car insurance laws

So, how do these insurance minimums affect how much money you get and where you get it from?
Minnesota is one of a few
no-fault states
: after a car accident, every driver can seek compensation from their own insurance company regardless of culpability. It’s only after you’ve exhausted your insurance policy’s liability limits that you can pursue damages from a third party in court.
The compensation you can claim from your insurance company (for expenses related to you and your passengers) will be drawn from your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP provides basic economic loss benefits, which include medical bills, lost wages, car rentals, ongoing treatment, etc. You can make a claim up to six months after the accident.
If you reach the limits of your PIP coverage, you may then receive funds from the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you’ll receive compensation as part of your own uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. As for what happens when you exceed these limits (or you decide to recover them from the at-fault driver), we’ll get to that in a moment.
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Claiming damages after an accident: Minnesota’s personal injury laws

You’ve gone over the details of the accident several times. You’ve spoken to passengers and witnesses. You’re fairly sure the other driver is at fault and you feel strongly they should foot the majority of the bill, not to mention the increase in your insurance premiums. 
After a car accident, you can choose to try and recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit if your circumstances match any one of these conditions:
  • Your personal injury protection (PIP) maximums were exceeded
  • You suffered at least $4,000 in medical expenses
  • You suffered at least 60 days of disability, permanent injury, or permanent disfigurement as a result of the car accident
It’s highly recommended to seek legal representation whenever you go to court. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer might seek to recover the following on your behalf:
  • Economic damages: Quantifiable, out-of-pocket losses related to the injury, such as medical bills, a loss of income, a loss of earning capacity, car repairs, or funeral expenses
  • Non-economic damages (also called general damages): Losses that are more difficult to quantify through a dollar amount, but are nonetheless keenly felt—pain, suffering, anxiety, trauma, and other subjective experiences
  • Punitive damages: Extra compensation sought as a penalty for reckless behavior—only available if the court is presented clear and convincing evidence that the person at fault demonstrated deliberate disregard for the rights and safety of others, such as through reckless driving
The court will determine who’s at fault using Minnesota’s comparative negligence laws (more on them later). If you’re successful, the court will generally subtract any dollar amounts received from collateral sources from your total settlement. Collateral sources include government disability checks, your car insurance company, or anyone else who already provided you with payment related to the car accident.
The statute of limitations that governs how much time you have to take legal action depends on who was injured, what was damaged, and who you want to take action against:

Who’s to blame: Minnesota’s modified comparative negligence laws

When you bring a suit to court in Minnesota, the party (or parties) responsible for the accident (and for paying damages) is determined by following modified comparative negligence laws. After hearing the evidence, the jury assigns a percentage of fault to each party involved. These percentages affect the maximum damages you can recover.
For example, if you stopped at a red light but your brake lights were broken, and the person behind you sped into the back of your car, the jury might decide you were 10% at fault while the speeding driver was 90% at fault. Of the $10,000 in total damages you sought to recover, you could claim a maximum of $9,000
Remember, the court will further deduct any compensation you received from collateral sources—for example, the $5,000 check your insurance company already wrote for repairs.

Exceptions to Minnesota’s personal injury laws

In some cases, you won’t be able to claim damages from a car accident at all, and in others, you could have extra time to make your claim. The former applies when you’re more than 50% at fault for your own injuries—no matter how badly hurt you are. In the latter, the courts might extend the usual deadlines on civil actions if:
  • There was a delay in discovering injuries related to the incident
  • The defendant is missing or incarcerated
  • The victim was a minor or disabled
  • Death occurs within the last year of the deadline—in that case, actions can be commenced by the decedent’s personal representative within one year after death (
    MINN. STAT. 541.16

How to save money on car insurance in Minnesota

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