Recovering Damages after a Minnesota Truck Accident

Find out how to receive compensation after a truck accident in a state with a no-fault insurance system

Truck accident cases tend to be more complex than other motor vehicle accident cases. Find out when you need to file a personal injury claim, who you can sue, and what you need to prove to recover damages in the North Star State.

It's not an exaggeration to say that trucks drive Minnesota's economy.

There are 18,350 trucking companies in the state, and 1 in every 18 jobs in Minnesota is a trucking job. On average, large commercial trucks travel 3.5 billion miles every year in the North Star State.

Although the rate of fatal commercial truck accidents across the country has declined since the 1970s, there are still more fatal and serious-injury truck accidents than anyone would like.

In this article, we'll take a look at Minnesota truck accidents, including how injured drivers and their families can recover damages following a truck accident.

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Minnesota truck accident statistics

When talking about "trucks," we're talking about large commercial trucks (also known as semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and tractor-trailers) as opposed to pickup trucks.

According to data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MDPS), there were 5,369 truck accidents in Minnesota in 2019. Of those, 56 fatalities resulted and 1,431 people were injured.

As you might imagine, when large trucks collide with smaller vehicles, it's the occupants of the smaller vehicles that generally suffer the most.

In 2-vehicle collisions involving trucks in 2019, only 5 of the 50 people killed were in trucks. Of the 1,197 people injured in multi-vehicle crashes, only 151 were truck occupants.

Unfortunately, truck accidents in Minnesota have shown no sign of decreasing.

Minnesota truck accident statistics (2013-2019)
Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Fatalities 67 63 62 59 60 44 56
Injuries 1,042 1,047 1,316 1,229 1,356 1,345 1,431
Total 4,741 5,023 4,226 4,169 4,317 4,623 5,369
Source: MDPS

Common types of truck accidents

Understanding the common types of truck accidents can help you avoid them. Here are 3 of the most common types of truck accidents:

  • Jackknife. A jackknife is when the trailer of a truck swings around so that it faces the opposite direction from the cab. A heavy load can make it more difficult for a truck driver to brake efficiently, and sometimes that can cause a jackknife.
  • Tire blowout. A tire blowout happens when there's a sudden break in the truck's tire or a small puncture causes the tire to gradually lose air over time. Tire blowouts are often the result of worn-out tires, defective manufacturing, unbalanced cargo, or low air pressure.
  • Rollover. A rollover occurs when—you guessed it—a truck rolls over. Rollovers are typically caused by speeding, sudden swerves or lane changes, or improperly loaded cargo.

MDPS keeps track of truck accidents by the "first harmful event":

Minnesota truck accidents by first harmful event (2019)
Collision with: Fatal crash Injury crash Total crashes
Other motor vehicle 43 867 3,966
Parked motor vehicle 0 17 252
Bicycle 1 6 7
Pedestrian 1 8 9
Deer 0 0 4
Other animal 0 1 9
Train 1 3 12
Other 0 58 628
Non-collision      
Rollover 2 95 234
Submersion 0 0 1
Fire/explosion 0 0 2
Other 1 16 239
Source: MDPS

Trucking laws in Minnesota

Truck drivers in Minnesota must follow the same rules of the road as other motor vehicle drivers. In addition, there are a number of federal laws that are specific to truck drivers. Most of these laws can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Enjuris tip:In addition, Minnesota has its own laws that address everything from vehicle registration to weight limits. The vast majority of these laws can be found in Minnesota Statutes Chapters 168, 169, 170, 171, 174, 221, and 296.
Federal hours-of-service limitations for commercial motor vehicle drivers
Work Property-carrying vehicles Passenger-carrying vehicles
On-duty Maximum 14 consecutive hours on-duty following 10 consecutive hours off-duty Maximum 15 hours on-duty following 8 consecutive hours off-duty
Driving time Maximum 11 hours of driving during the 14-hour on-duty period Maximum 10 hours of driving following 8 consecutive hours off-duty
Weekly Maximum 60 hours on-duty in any period of 7 consecutive days (if the vehicle operates every day) or maximum 70 hours on-duty in any period of 8 consecutive days (if the vehicle doesn't operate every day)

Recovering damages for a truck accident in Minnesota

Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state. In short, this means that every driver is required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. If you're injured in a truck accident, you'll file a claim under your own PIP policy regardless of who's at fault for the accident.

Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state, which means you file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy regardless of who’s at fault for the truck accident.
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If your damages are greater than the PIP limit on your policy, then you can make a claim against the other driver's liability coverage or file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. To do so, you'll need to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident.

To prove fault in a Minnesota truck crash, you typically need to establish that the truck driver or the trucking company was negligent.

In other words:

Did the truck driver or trucking company fail to exercise reasonable care, and did this failure cause the accident?

Enjuris tip:Trucking companies can generally be held liable for the negligent acts of their employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior or the negligent hiring doctrine.

In addition to the truck driver and the trucking company, the following parties may be liable for a truck accident:

  • The company that leased the truck from the owner
  • The manufacturer of the truck or truck components
  • The person who loaded the ship's cargo
  • The person who owns or maintains the road

Can you recover damages if a loved one is killed in a truck accident?

If your loved one is killed in a truck accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages for your loss. A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a negligence lawsuit in the sense that you'll need to prove the defendant was at fault for the accident in order to recover damages.

Damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  • Loss of income, wages, and other benefits the deceased would have provided their family
  • Loss of the deceased's advice, comfort, companionship, and guidance
  • Medical expenses the deceased incurred from the accident prior to or shortly after their death

Statute of limitations for Minnesota truck crashes

Minnesota limits the amount of time truck accident victims have to file a lawsuit (this time limit is called the statute of limitations).

In most truck accident cases, victims have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.

If victims fail to file their lawsuit within this time period, their case will be forever barred (with a few narrow exceptions).

5 steps to take after a Minnesota truck accident

Truck accidents can be traumatic. However, if you're able to stay calm and do these 5 things, you'll put yourself in a better position to recover the damages you deserve:

  1. Seek medical attention. Even if you don't think you're seriously hurt, it's a good idea to get checked out as soon as possible. Some symptoms of serious injuries don't appear until hours or even days after an accident. What's more, seeing a doctor is a good way to start accumulating evidence in the event that you need to file a lawsuit down the road.
  2. Call the police. It's always a good idea to call the police after a truck accident. The police can conduct an investigation and draft a report that could be used to help support your claims.
  3. Gather evidence. If it's safe to do so, take pictures and collect witness contact information at the scene of the accident (along with the contact information for any drivers involved in the crash). This information is incredibly difficult to collect once you leave the scene.
  4. Avoid social media. Posting about your accident or your injuries on social media is almost certainly going to backfire. Resist the urge to share your story until you receive the damages you deserve.
  5. Talk to an attorney. Truck accidents are usually more complicated than car accidents. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the better chance you have at building a successful case.

Ready to talk to an attorney about your truck accident claim? Find a Minnesota truck accident attorney using our free online directory.

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What does an injury lawyer do?

A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more

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