Personal Injury FAQ

/Personal Injury FAQ
Personal Injury FAQ2018-09-20T17:57:46+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

If you or someone you know was injured or killed, you may have many questions about a potential personal injury lawsuit.  We’ve created this Personal Injury FAQ page to address some of those common questions related to personal injury lawsuits, including burns, explosions, auto or boat accidents, wrongful death actions and whether you may need to an attorney.  Can’t find what you are looking for here? Give us a call at 651-455-1555, and we will arrange your free consultation, or send a request for more information here.

What are the different types of spinal cord injuries?2018-09-24T14:15:18+00:00

The severity of a spinal cord injury largely depends on what part of the spinal cord is injured. Injuries that occur closer to the brain will be the most severe and impact more bodily functions. Usually injuries to the spinal cord in the cervical (neck) region result in “quadriplegia” with associated loss of muscle strength in all four extremities. Injuries to the thoracic or lumbar (lower back) often result in paraplegia associated with paralysis in the legs and lower parts of the body.

What kinds of treatment can I expect after suffering a spinal cord injury?2018-09-20T17:56:40+00:00

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Treatment

Immobilization of the entire spine is critical immediately after suffering the injury to prevent further damage and to identify other critical or life threatening issues.  Standard ICU care, including maintaining a stable blood pressure, monitoring cardiovascular function, ensuring adequate ventilation and lung function, as well as preventing and promptly treating infection and other complications.

Surgery

Surgery is most common when a person suffers an incomplete SCI.  If the spine is compressed from a herniated disk or a blood clot is formed and is restricting blood flow then surgery will likely be an immediate consideration.  Even if surgery cannot repair damage to the spine, it may still be necessary in order to stabilize the spine and prevent further pain or injury.

Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation

The initial focus may be to strengthen and maintain existing muscle function, as well as redeveloping fine motor skills.  You will be educated on the effects of your spinal cord injury and taught how to avoid complications.  Finally, you will be taught new skills and how to use various equipment and technology to improve your quality of life.  The fastest rate of recovery will likely be seen in the first six months, with small improvements occurring up to two years after injury.

What are the different levels of spinal cord injuries?2018-09-20T17:42:30+00:00

There are generally two levels of spinal cord injury (SCI), complete and incomplete.  A complete SCI produces total loss of all bodily function and control below the level of injury and affect both sides of the body equally.  This level of injury accounts for nearly 50% of all SCIs.  Commonly, the loss of function is caused by a contusion or bruise to the spinal cord or by compromise of blood flow to the injured part of the spinal cord.  An incomplete SCI is when some bodily function and control remains below the primary level of the injury.  A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one arm or leg more than the other or may have more functioning on one side of the body than the other.

What are the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury?2018-09-20T17:35:48+00:00
  • Extreme pain or pressure in the neck, head or back
  • Tingling or loss of sensation in the hand, fingers, feet or toes
  • Partial or complete loss of control over any part of the body
  • Urinary or bowel urgency, incontinence or retention
  • Difficulty with balance and walking
  • Abnormal pain or pressure sensations in the thorax (mid-back between neck and abdomen)
  • Impaired breathing after injury
  • Unusual lumps on the head or spine
Why should I hire an attorney for my truck accident case?2018-09-18T21:07:33+00:00

These types of cases involve very sophisticated parties and because of this are often aggressively defended.  Additionally, these types of cases often require an in-depth and independent investigation in order to establish fault.  This involves an in-depth inspection into the driver’s driving logs, inspection logs, and truck load in order to determine if any state or federal regulations or safety standards were violated by the driver, his employer or the truck owner.  It is important for you to hire an attorney immediately after you’ve been involved in a truck accident to ensure that no evidence is lost and all of the necessary parties are involved from the very beginning.

Who can be sued in a truck accident case?2018-09-18T20:59:10+00:00
  • The truck driver;
  • the truck owner;
  • the trailer owner;
  • the company identified on the trailer; and
  • in some cases even the company that was responsible for loading the contents of the trailer (if it contributed to the accident).
How is a truck accident different from an ordinary auto accident?2018-09-18T20:56:20+00:00

Semi trucks are involved in interstate commerce and are therefore subject to many state and federal regulations.  Truck drivers and their vehicles are also subject to much higher safety standards.  This is primarily because the sheer size of a semi truck makes it likely that any type of accident can have catastrophic results.  It is for this reason that trucking companies are required to carry much higher insurance coverage.  Any violation of the regulations or safety standards can be a basis for establishing fault and securing just compensation for your injuries.

Is a dog’s owner covered by insurance?2018-09-18T20:43:50+00:00

Yes, almost all homeowner’s insurance policies protect owners against attacks and bites by their pets.

Can I bring a dog bite claim if I approached to pet it?2018-09-18T20:42:01+00:00

Yes, for the most part.  The important question is going to be whether you did anything to provoke the dog into biting.  Provocation can be established if you were yelling or hitting the dog, or if you were in the dog’s face and acting aggressive towards it.  In some cases, grabbing a dog’s tail or ear can be enough to provoke it to bite.  However, simply walking up to a dog in a friendly manner and petting it will generally not establish provocation.

What information should I collect if I was involved in a dog bite?2018-09-18T20:36:23+00:00

First and foremost, you need to get the name, address and contact information of the dog’s owner, as well as the location of where the bite occurred.  You should then get the name of the dog owner’s insurance company and try to find out any information regarding whether or not the dog has bitten anyone in the past.  Finally, photographs of the injuries are very important and should be taken as close to the time of the dog bite as possible.  It is equally as important to take photographs as the bite wound heals to show progress and establish whether or not its going to leave permanent scarring.

What are the different levels of TBI?2018-09-21T16:11:52+00:00

There are generally three levels of TBI: mild, moderate and severe.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Mild traumatic brain injury occurs when:

  • Loss of consciousness is very brief, usually a few seconds or minutes
  • Loss of consciousness does not have to occur—the person may be dazed or confused
  • Testing or scans of the brain may appear normal

A mild traumatic brain injury is diagnosed only when there is a change in the mental status at the time of injury—the person is dazed, confused, or loses consciousness—think of this as a concussion.

Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury

  • A loss of consciousness lasts from a few minutes to a few hours
  • Confusion lasts from days to weeks
  • Physical, cognitive, and/or behavioral impairments last for months or are permanent.

Persons with moderate traumatic brain injury generally can make a good recovery with treatment or successfully learn to compensate for their deficits.

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Severe head injuries usually result from crushing blows or penetrating wounds to the head that crush, rip and shear delicate brain tissue. This is the most life threatening type of brain injury and often results in death without immediate medical attention.  Persons suffering severe traumatic brain injuries will likely experience permanent loss of brain functions affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions.

What are common causes of TBI?2018-09-20T13:49:32+00:00
  • Auto or Truck Accidents
  • Drunk Driving Accidents
  • Slips and Falls
  • Explosions
  • Sports Injuries
  • Assault and Battery
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)2018-09-14T20:06:39+00:00

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from “mild” – a brief change in mental status or consciousness – to “severe” – an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent brain function.

What are the different types of product liability cases?2018-04-06T18:27:38+00:00

There are generally three categories of product liability lawsuits:

  1.  Design Defect.  A defect in the product’s design made it unreasonably dangerous to the consumer when used as intended.
  2. Manufacturing Defect.  A product’s defect (making it unreasonably dangerous) was caused by the way it was manufactured, assembled, inspected, packaged, or tested.
  3. Failure to Warn.  A manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings/instructions for its product when used the way it was intended or in a way that it could foreseeably be used.
What if the product is old?2018-04-06T18:08:18+00:00

Just because the product is old does not necessarily bar your claim against a manufacturer.  The courts use the term “useful life, ” referring to the period where, with reasonable safety, the product should be useful to the user.  Whether or not a product’s useful life has expired is a question for a jury to determine.

What do I need to prove in a Product Liability Case?2018-04-06T17:53:51+00:00

There are three basic elements in a product liability case: First, the product must have been in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous for its intended use; Second, the defect must have existed when the product left the manufacturer’s control; and Third, the defect must have been the proximate cause of the injury – meaning the defect in the product was sufficiently related to the injury where the court can deem it the legal cause.

What does product liability mean?2018-04-06T16:55:23+00:00

Product liability refers to the liability of all parties that are a part of the chain of manufacturers or distributors for damages or injuries caused by their products.  These parties have a duty to consumers to adequately and safely design and manufacture (provide quality control) their products, as well as to provide proper instructions and warnings for their products.

Do I need an auto accident attorney?2018-04-06T16:31:25+00:00

It is always a good idea to seek help from an experienced attorney.  It is important to understand that even your insurance company is not looking out for your best interests.  You can bet that they will have a number of people looking for ways to reduce or deny your claim.  An experienced attorney can work directly with the insurance companies to help ensure that this does not happen.

What is uninsured (UM) and under insured (UIM) motorist insurance coverage?2018-04-06T16:30:05+00:00

Minnesota requires all driver’s to have uninsured (UM) and under insured (UIM) motorist coverage.  UM coverage means your insurance company will pay for your medical bills and lost wages, among other costs, when the other driver does not have insurance.  UIM applies when the other driver has insurance, but the policy limits are insufficient to fully compensate you for your losses.

What is subrogation?2018-04-06T16:27:11+00:00

Subrogation is a term written into your insurance contract.  It requires you to reimburse your insurance company for any money it paid out for medical treatment for the injuries that you suffered from the at-fault driver, if you are able to obtain a recovery from the at-fault driver.  This duty generally applies when an insurance company pays for something (like a medical bill) on your behalf, and then someone else (the at-fault person or their insurance company) pays you for that same bill – then, you may have an obligation to pay back money you originally received from your insurance company.  This money will come directly from any settlement or recovery that you make.

What type of compensation can I receive?2018-04-06T16:25:19+00:00

This will depend on the specific facts of your case.  You may be able to receive compensation for any of the following items: 1) Medical bills, including emergency room fees, surgical procedures, and any other hospital costs; 2) Lost wages; 3) Costs of rehabilitation and physical therapy; 4) Disability or disfigurement; 5) Pain and suffering; 6) Wrongful death, including loss of companionship and loss of financial support; and 7) Other out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident.

What do I do immediately after being involved in a car accident?2018-04-06T16:22:02+00:00

The steps you take immediately after a car accident can impact the outcome of your claim. The most important thing is to remember to remain calm and stay at the accident scene in a safe place.
The first step you should take after a car accident is to call 911 to assist with any injuries and to file an accident report. It is important not to admit liability, since this is a legal matter and will be investigated later. You should obtain the name and contact information for all parties involved in the accident and any witnesses to the accident. Make sure you also get the name and badge numbers of the police officers writing the reports.  It is also a good idea to take pictures to document vehicle damage, road obstructions and injuries, as well as maintaining an accurate record of all costs that you incur as a result of the accident.

How are burn injuries caused?2018-01-15T20:43:36+00:00

When most people think of a burn injury, they think fire.  But fire is only one example of how a person can sustain a burn injury.  Other common types of burn injuries are caused by exposure to the sun, tanning bed lights, hot liquids or steam, hot metal, glass or plastic, and electrical shock.  Burns are also caused by contact with chemicals, such as strong acids, alkalis, paint thinner or gasoline.  Burns can be external or internal.  Internal burns are those sustained as the result of inhaling smoke or chemical fumes causing damage to the mouth, throat and lungs.

What types of burn injuries are there?2018-01-15T20:38:22+00:00

Burns are considered some of the most painful injuries that a person can suffer.  There are three degree of burn injuries:

• First-degree burns damage only the outer layer of skin
• Second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the layer underneath
• Third-degree burns damage or destroy the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath

How are damages determined?2018-01-15T20:34:20+00:00

There are many variables that can go in to determining the specific damages for your case. Some of the most common factors include:

• A decedent’s past financial contributions.
• Life expectancy of the decedent at the time of death.
• The health condition of the decedent at the time of death.
• The decedent’s age, habits, and occupation.
• The past and potential future earnings of the decedent.

What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death action?2018-01-15T20:31:32+00:00

For an intentional act constituting murder under Minnesota law, a lawsuit may be filed any time after the death of the decedent.  For any other action the lawsuit may be filed any time within three years of the decedent’s death, but in any event, must be commenced within six years of the date of the incident or act causing the death.

Who can bring a wrongful death action?2018-01-15T20:29:34+00:00

The surviving spouse, children or one of the next of kin may be appointed as a trustee by the court to bring a wrongful death action.  Determining the persons entitled to bring this type of action in any one particular case can be a complicated question.  It is important to consult with an attorney about the specific circumstances of your case.

What is wrongful death?2018-01-15T20:13:48+00:00

Wrongful Death is generally when a person’s death is caused by another’s wrongful act or negligence.  A wrongful death action is a lawsuit against the person or persons who caused the wrongful death.  The lawsuit may be filed by the family members of the deceased who have lost his/her company and financial support.

Do you offer a free initial consultation?2018-01-15T20:10:39+00:00

Yes. We would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your case. Call us at 651-455-1555 to make an appointment.

What types of personal injury claims do you handle?2018-01-15T20:09:00+00:00

At Sieben & Cotter, PLLC we handle a wide variety of personal injury claims. These include wrongful death, auto accident, boating accidents, burn or explosion injuries, fire loss and products liability. Call us at 651-455-1555 we can discuss your injuries and determine if we are the right fit for you.

Do I need an attorney?2018-01-15T20:07:22+00:00

It is generally a good idea to contact an attorney.  These types of cases can be very complex and may involve several defendants, insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and law enforcement.  Not to mention the attorneys for the defendants and insurance companies.  A skilled attorney can assist you in conducting a thorough investigation, gather the information that you need and ensure that all documentation is collected and filed in a timely manner.

How long does the process take?2018-01-15T19:59:42+00:00

It depends on the specific circumstances of your case.  Before discussing any settlement it is important to fully understand the extent of your injuries, including their life-long effects and permanency.  This can take up to a year in many cases.  If you try to reach a settlement too soon then there is danger that your claim will be undervalued.

How much will it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?2018-01-15T19:57:09+00:00

The attorneys at Sieben & Cotter, PLLC work on a contingent fee basis. Meaning attorney’s fees are only owed if your claim is successful.

What damages will I be awarded?2018-01-15T19:53:25+00:00

Typical damages awarded in a personal injury case include:

• Past medical expenses
• Past loss of income
• Compensation for past pain, disability and disfigurement as a result of your injury
• Future medical expenses that are reasonably likely to be incurred to treat your injuries
• Future loss of earning capacity that is reasonable certain to occur
• Compensation for future pain, disability and disfigurement that is reasonably certain to occur

What are “damages?”2018-01-15T19:50:58+00:00

Damages are the award, usually monetary, paid to a person as compensation for their loss or injury.  Personal injury cases may involve financial, physical, emotional, and property damages. Financial damages include your medical bills; travel costs for appointments; lost wages; etc.  Physical damages are the injuries to your person.  Emotional damages include trauma, pain, and suffering. Finally, property damages can occur if any of your property is affected by the incident.

What are the statute of limitations for personal injury actions?2018-01-15T19:33:45+00:00
Cause of Action Time Limitation Minnesota Statute
Auto Accident

Boating Accident

Burn Injury

Assault and Battery

Wrongful Death

Product Liability

6 Years

6 Years

6 Years

2 Years

3 Years

4 Years (strict); 6 Years (Negligence)

Minn. Stat. § 541.05, Subd. 1(5)

Minn. Stat. § 541.05, Subd. 1(5)

Minn. Stat. § 541.05, Subd. 1(5)

Minn. Stat. § 541.07

Minn. Stat. § 573.02, subd. 1

Minn. Stat. § 541.05, subd. 2; Minn. Stat. § 541.05, Subd. 1(5)

What is a “personal injury?”2018-01-15T19:12:57+00:00

A personal injury is harm to a person’s mind, body or emotions caused by either the intentional or negligent actions of another person or corporation.  Another term for personal injury law is “tort” law.

Where are you located?2018-02-23T15:25:40+00:00

Our office is located in South Saint Paul (Dakota County), serving Minneapolis and St. Paul and the surrounding Twin Cities metro area counties: Dakota, Washington, Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey, Carver, Scott, as well as greater Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Minneapolis – St. Paul Criminal Defense Attorneys on call 24/7 651-455-1555

As experienced criminal defense and personal injury attorneys, we know how quickly you need protection and an advocate in your corner. We provide our clients with our office and cell phone numbers for 24/7 availability. We also know how important it is for you to have someone who will listen, understand what happened, provide experienced counsel and stand by you. The Sieben & Cotter Law office is located in South St. Paul, in Dakota County, convenient to Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the Twin Cities metro area, also serving greater Minnesota and Wisconsin. Read attorney reviews or contact us 24/7 at 651-455-1555 | Tom Sieben | Patrick Cotter