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The Personal Injury lawyers of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben in Minneapolis Minnesota are nationally renowned for representing victims of serious accidents. Our firm provides aggressive representation for victims across the United States. If you or a family member have been the victim of a serious accident, contact our law offices today.

Sorted by type of injury or accident to the left is a list of common questions regarding Minnesota laws and Personal Injury litigation. Any additional questions that you may have can be addressed by the team of lawyers at our office, over the phone, or filling out the free case evaluation form. Contact Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben today to discuss your case.

Hiring an Attorney FAQ

How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
Answer:
A person who has suffered a personal injury does not pay any attorney fees unless the case is resolved and money is recovered for the client. If no money is ever recovered, the client does not pay any attorney's fees or expenses (called a "contingent fee agreement”).

At Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, we charge our clients based on this contingent fee. The client never receives a monthly bill that they have to pay. Instead, we charge a percentage of the amount we recover. This percentage is paid after the settlement, not before, and is calculated based upon the entire settlement amount. In addition, at the time of settlement, the client pays out of the settlement for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred. These expenses include medical records and reports, filing fees, deposition charges, copy charges, and other similar expenses. These expenses are deducted after the percentage for attorneys' fees is deducted.

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Do I need an attorney?
Answer:

Whenever someone is injured through the negligence of another, the issue arises whether they need an attorney to help them with their claim. If the injuries are minor and the person quickly recovers, there is often little need to retain an attorney. Instead, medical bills are paid through your insurance company, and the matter can be left there. In automobile accidents involving damage to the vehicles only, Minnesota law (Minnesota Statute Chapter 72A) requires that the involved insurance companies promptly arrange for payment of property damage losses.
However, if serious injuries occur, victims can quickly find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. The insurance companies for the negligent parties will inevitably have an extensive network of insurance adjusters, doctors, and other experts whose job is to defeat or minimize any injury claims arising from an accident. Most people do not have the resources or expertise to fight on an equal footing with insurance companies.
In addition, insurance adjusters often contact the injured persons or his or her family shortly after an accident to try to gain their confidence. In doing so, insurance adjusters often try to present themselves as the friend of the injured party or the family of someone who was killed in an accident. The goal of such contact is inevitably to settle the case on terms as favorable as possible for the insurance company.
Any time an injured person requires advice on their legal rights, they can benefit from consulting an experienced personal injury attorney. Choosing a qualified personal injury attorney is a critical task. An experienced personal injury lawyer can explain the injured person's legal rights and all aspects of handling a personal injury claim. From the initial investigation, to gathering medical records and making a fair and reasonable evaluation of the settlement value of the case, your attorney is a valuable advocate to have on your side.

 

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How do I find the best attorney for my case?
Answer:

During a personal injury claim you will be working closely with your lawyer for twelve to twenty months. Therefore, it's important to select an attorney who understands what you are going through and can meet your needs. In order to find the right attorney, you should meet personally with the one you choose so you can get a feel for their personality and how they will handle your claim.
Explore whether the attorney will accept an employee/employer relationship. The best attorneys understand that the client is in charge of the claim; the attorney is merely the advisor and spokesperson for the client. It is in this area that experience is extremely important because the lawyer will be advising you on the best way to handle your claim to insure fair and full compensation.
When meeting with prospective attorneys ask the hard questions:
  1. How long have you been practicing?
  2. Do you limit your practice to the fields of personal injury and wrongful death?
  3. Are you willing to take a case like mine to trial if that is the only means of obtaining fair compensation?
  4. How many cases have you tried to a jury?
  5. Are you Nationally Board Certified as a civil trial specialist?
  6. What is your win/loss record? Keep in mind that if they have not lost their fair share of cases then they haven't tried enough cases and are not aggressive enough to handle your claim.
The National Board of Trial Advocacy and the Minnesota State Bar Association certifies an attorney as a civil trial specialist. This certification process requires extensive trial experience, recommendations from judges and attorneys, and a written exam. The certification process may be the best indication of a lawyer's experience and willingness to pursue their client’s claim even if it means going to court. At Schwebel Goetz & Sieben we have 10 lawyers who are Nationally Board Certified.
Eight of our attorneys were named to the prestigious "Best Lawyers in America" published by Woodward/White in the the area of Personal Injury, more than any other firm in Minnesota.
Martindale Hubbell publishes a directory of attorneys, available at any public library identifying those who have the highest ethical standards and carry a high ability rating. The publisher arrives at the ratings through confidential surveys of attorneys throughout the state. In addition, the firm and all of its eligible attorneys have been given the A.V. rating by Martindale Hubbell, the highest rating available.
Super Lawyers - The best attorneys in their field are listed yearly in the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics and Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine. Their peers have honored these attorneys as “Super Lawyers.” This is an excellent referral source since it tells the reader who lawyers would hire to represent himself or herself. 11 of our lawyers have been recognized in this annual Super Lawyer list, four of which were in the Top 10.
Any law firm or individual lawyer can purchase advertising time. Slogans such as "we're tough with insurance companies" or " who's the law firm on this case; we had better settle" are false and misleading. Insurance adjusters don't settle claims based on TV ads. They do however look at the quality of legal representation provided by certain lawyers and law firms. When judging that quality, they consider experience, the lawyer's willingness to go to court if necessary, and the ability of that individual lawyer and their knowledge of the law and the claims they are handling. If a lawyer has developed a reputation for consistently accepting the insurance company's last offer then those offers continue to go down on a case-by-case basis to the detriment of the client.
Choosing an experienced attorney may be the most important step in assuring that you receive full and fair recovery for your injuries. If you follow the recommendations above, you should have no trouble selecting the best attorney for your needs.

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Insurance FAQ

What types of insurance do I need?
Answer:
Automobile Insurance
Renter’s Insurance
No Fault Insurance
Health Insurance
Boat Insurance
Motorcycle Insurance
Life Insurance
Home Insurance
Umbrella Insurance

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What is Automobile Insurance?
Answer:

An auto insurance policy is a package of different coverage models. Most states require you to purchase a minimum amount of certain kinds of coverage. But if you're interested in protecting yourself from a lawsuit or from hefty repair bills, then it makes sense to buy more than what's required. Below are the different types available:


Liability insurance

Liability coverage is the foundation of any auto insurance policy, and is required in most states. If you are at fault in an accident, your liability insurance will pay for the bodily injury and property damage expenses caused to others in the accident, including your legal bills. Bodily-injury coverage pays for medical bills and lost wages. Property-damage coverage pays for the repair or replacement of things you wrecked other than your own car. The other party may also decide to sue you to collect "pain and suffering" damages.

The foundation of your auto insurance puzzle is liability insurance. Forty-five states require the purchase of auto liability insurance (South Carolina and Virginia require that you register as an uninsured motorist if you do not have liability insurance; Tennessee requires proof of financial responsibility; New Hampshire and Wisconsin don't mandate liability coverage except in certain cases). Your insurance minimum will depend on where you live. For example, in Texas, drivers have to purchase at least $20,000 worth of bodily injury coverage per person, $40,000 worth of bodily injury coverage per accident, and $15,000 worth of property damage coverage (also known as 20/40/15).

 

Minnesota car insurance laws

All Minnesota drivers are required to carry three types of auto insurance: standard liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP).

Minnesota is a no fault state, and PIP is the no fault part of auto insurance policy. In the event of an accident, PIP helps pay the cost of your injury-related expenses, as well as those of your passengers', regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

Minnesota auto insurance laws require $40,000 worth of PIP coverage, ($20,000 for medical costs, and $20,000 for other related expenses, like lost wages or funeral costs). Drivers may choose to purchase higher levels of PIP for an increase in premium, or apply a deductible to the policy for a premium reduction.

No fault insurance does limit the right of an injured party to sue for damages caused by an auto accident. However, at-fault drivers can be found liable for expenses over the limit of the injured party's PIP coverage. Liability insurance helps cover these costs, and it is required by Minnesota auto insurance laws.

Minnesota's liability insurance minimums are 30/60/10. (That's $30,000 per person for injuries you cause to the other party, up to $60,000 for all, and $10,000 for damage you cause to the other party's property.)

The final coverages required by Minnesota auto insurance laws are uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage in the amount of 25/50 ($25,000 for injuries per person, up to $50,000 total). These policies help pay for your medical expenses should you be injured by a driver with inadequate liability insurance. They apply only after your PIP benefits have been exhausted.

 

Collision and comprehensive coverage

If you cause an accident, collision coverage will pay to repair your vehicle. You usually can't collect any more than the actual cash value of your car, which is not the same as the car's replacement cost. Collision coverage is normally the most expensive component of auto insurance. By choosing a higher deductible, say $500 or $1,000, you can keep your premium costs down. However, keep in mind that you must pay the amount of your deductible before the insurance company kicks in any money after an accident.

Insurance companies often will "total" your car if the repair costs exceed a certain percentage of the car's worth. The critical damage point varies from company to company, from 55 percent to 90 percent.
Comprehensive coverage will pay for damages to your car that weren't caused by an auto accident: Damages from theft, fire, vandalism, natural disasters, or hitting a deer all qualify. Comprehensive coverage also comes with a deductible and your insurer will only pay as much as the car was worth when it was wrecked.

Because insurance companies normally will not pay you more than your car's book value, it's helpful if you have a rough idea of this amount. Check the Kelley Blue Book or the National Automobile Dealers Association. If your car is worth less than what you're paying for the coverage, you're better off not having it.

 

Medical payments, PIP, and no-fault coverages

Medical payments (Med Pay) coverage will pay for your medical expenses as well as the medical expenses of your passengers after an accident. These expenses can arise from accidents while you're driving your car, someone else's car (with their permission), and injuries you or your family members incur when you are pedestrians. The coverage will pay regardless of who is at fault, but if someone else is liable, your insurer may seek to recoup the expenses from him or her.

Personal injury protection (PIP) and broader "no-fault" coverages are expanded forms of medical payments protection that may be required in your state. Some states have optional PIP or no-fault coverage. Expanded features include payments for lost wages and childcare.

If you have a good health insurance plan, there might be little need to buy more than the minimum required PIP or Med Pay coverages. And, if you already have disability insurance, there is little reason to purchase higher-than-minimum amounts of PIP.
 

Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage’s

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pays for your injuries if a hit-and-run driver or someone who doesn’t have auto insurance strikes you. It is required in many states.

Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage will pay out if the driver who hit you causes more damage than his or her liability coverage can cover. In some states, UM or UIM coverage will also pay for property damages.

You'll probably want to have at least the minimal amount of UM/UIM because if you can't find the other driver, you'll at least have some coverage for pain-and-suffering damages.

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What is Health Insurance?
Answer:

Medical Insurance pays the large expenses that can be incurred when you or a family member go the doctor, the hospital, or seek other costly medical services. Medical insurance allows you to obtain high quality medical care without severe financial hardship to your family. If you have assets, or intend to have assets, those assets can be largely taken away if you run up large medical/hospital costs. Medical insurance insures your assets and assures your access to good medical care. Listed below is a brief description of the major types of medical insurance.
 
General categories of Health Insurance are:
 
Indemnity Plans: Indemnity plans allow you to choose any doctor or hospital when seeking medical care. These plans typically have a deductible which must be met before any benefits are payable to the insured. After this deductible, the plans pay a co-insurance percentage, typically 70% to 90% of billed charges. The remainder of the bill is paid by the insured.
 
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plans: PPO plans usually offer a large list of doctors and hospitals from which you must select in order to receive maximum benefit. These plans typically have a deductible and co-insurance like the indemnity plan. Doctors, hospitals and other medical providers generally agree to charge reduced fees in order to participate in these PPO plans. Because of this reduced fee, these plans tend to be less expensive than indemnity plans.
 
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plans: HMO plans usually offer a smaller list of doctors from which the insured may choose. These plans generally have no deductibles or claim forms. With an HMO, you typically have a small co-pay per visit ($5 or $10) and all other charges are fully covered by the plan. Generally, each insured selects a Primary Care Doctor and that doctor is responsible for meeting your entire healthcare needs. If you need to visit a specialist, you must get a referral from your primary care doctor. HMO providers usually agree to substantially reduced charges, and these lower fees can be reflected in lower insurance premiums.
 
Medicare: Medicare provides coverage for people who have qualified for Social Security (usually 40 quarters of work subject to Social Security). The majority of people who qualify for Medicare become eligible at age 65. Under some circumstances, extreme disabilities may qualify a person for Medicare before age 65. Medicare provides comprehensive coverage, but can have some larger co-insurance payments than many traditional plans. Because of these co-payments, many Medicare recipients buy relatively inexpensive supplements.

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