Can a Hutchinson Family Law Lawyer Make My Ex Help with College Costs?

Nationwide, college tuition has increased fivefold since 1985, to an average of $22,432 per year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Put another way, the four years of college cost more than the eighteen years of child-rearing which preceded college admission. Additionally, the $22,432 does not represent the total cost of a college education. That figure does not include living expenses and the dreaded “incidentals” category.

In Minnesota, child support always ends at 18 or upon graduation from high school. There is no way, even via a hidden loophole, to force a parent to pay for college expenses. However, voluntary college tuition agreements are enforceable in the Gopher State. Many times, if the children are young at the time of divorce, a Hutchinson family law lawyer will include a reserve clause in the decree. The parties agree to table college tuition reimbursement for the time being and take up the issues when the children are older.

Only support provisions in the decree or other court paperwork are enforceable, according to Minnesota family law. Side agreements, even if they are in writing, are never enforceable in a McLeod County family court. These agreements may not meet the legal definition of a contract, so they may not be enforceable elsewhere either.

Defining Key Terms

Items like tuition, living expenses, and transportation, which are the three major components of a college tuition reimbursement plan, seem straightforward. However, upon closer inspection, they are quite subjective. So, a Hutchinson family law lawyer must aggressively stand up for your financial rights in these matters.

There is a significant difference between community college tuition, in-state public school tuition, out-of-state public school tuition, and private school tuition. Tuition usually includes a number of semi-optional fees as well, such as a meal plan or athletic use fees.

Additionally, most students can work and/or borrow money to pay for college. How much they should work, and how much they should borrow, affects the amount of tuition the parents must pay. Scholarships affect the amount due as well.

In terms of living expenses, there is a cost difference between a dormitory room and a private, off-campus apartment. There is also a difference between a regular dorm and a private dorm, or a one-bedroom apartment and a two-bedroom apartment with three other roommates.

Finally on this point, what constitutes “transportation” expenses? Does that mean a private vehicle along with money for gas and other expenses, two round-trip bus tickets home every semester, or something in between?

Factors a Hutchinson Family Law Lawyer Uses

A number of states, including nearby Illinois, do require both parents to help pay for their children’s college expenses. Some common factors include:

  • Each Parent’s Financial Situation: Total household income after remarriage is generally irrelevant in child support situations. But it is relevant when determining the ability to help pay for college.
  • Child’s Financial Resources: This factor was discussed above. Once they turn 18, people can borrow money, get jobs, and otherwise participate in the economy.
  • Child’s Academic Performance: Both pre-college and college performance may be relevant. A four-year university is not for everyone. Moreover, if the student’s grades fall below a certain level, it’s reasonable to ask if college was the right choice.

These factors are nonbinding, but they do matter a lot. As mentioned, many parents insert reserve clauses into their divorce decrees. Later, Hutchinson family law lawyers often resolve these matters in mediation. The three mentioned factors are a good road map to follow during such a proceeding.

Some Practical Concerns

Many parents begin paying for college when their children are small. They put money into a 529 savings plan or a prepaid tuition plan with a public university. When the time comes to divide educational costs, these parents should receive credit for those expenditures. Arguably, they should receive more than dollar-for-dollar credit. Their forethought and previous sacrifices should mean something.

The payee may be a concern as well. The residential parent is no longer automatically qualified to receive college cost reimbursement funds as trustee. The money could go to the institution directly or to the child.

Finally, one child’s college attendance often affects the other children in the family. If the child attends school locally or comes home frequently, downsizing to a smaller dwelling may not be a realistic option. Under Minnesota law, the non-residential parent is entitled to a child support reduction. But the college tuition reimbursement agreement could also include provisions with regard to regular child support. The judge will almost certainly approve any such agreement, as long as it is in the best interests of the children.

Reach Out to Aggressive Attorneys

College tuition reimbursement is not part of child support in Minnesota, but many parents make it that way. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson family law lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

The Three Types of Negligence in a Brainerd Car Accident Claim

Most car accidents are not “accidents” in the sense that they were unavoidable or inevitable. Human error, mostly driver error, accounts for over 90 percent of these incidents. When that driver error is also a lack of care, which is usually the case, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) may be legally responsible for damages.

These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases. The amount and type of damages largely depends on the facts of the case and the skill of your Brainerd personal injury lawyer.

Many of the cases these attorneys handle involve one of the three types of negligence discussed below. The categories may sound academic, but understanding them helps a Brainerd personal injury lawyer obtain maximum compensation in a car wreck case.

Behavioral Negligence

Many drivers know they should not get behind the wheel, yet they do so anyway. In the process, they knowingly put other people at risk. Therefore, damages in behavioral negligence cases tend to be rather high.

Alcohol is a good example. Most people are not legally intoxicated until after they consume three or four drinks, but impairment begins with the first drink. So, alcohol is a factor in about a third of the fatal crashes in Minnesota. Alcohol impairs both reflexes and judgment ability. People need both these things to safely operate motor vehicles.

As in many other types of cases, Brainerd personal injury lawyers may use either direct or circumstantial evidence to establish alcohol impairment. If the tortfeasor was arrested for DUI, the tortfeasor may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. Circumstantial evidence of impairment includes things like erratic driving, bloodshot eyes, and an odor of alcohol.

Many other drivers make poor choices and therefore put other drivers at risk, thus failing to live up to the standard of care. Some other types of behavioral negligence include:

  • Fatigue: Drowsiness and alcohol have basically the same effect on the body and mind. Both slow reaction times and make it difficult or impossible to focus on a task.
  • Drugs: In some areas, there are more “drugged” drivers than “drunk” drivers. Most drug-impaired motorists ingested legal substances, such as prescription painkillers or some over-the-counter drugs. Even if it is legal to take these drugs, it’s illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of certain drugs.
  • Medical Condition: Chronic illnesses like heart disease and epilepsy may cause drivers to lose consciousness suddenly and without warning. The resulting loss-of-control collisions often cause extremely serious injuries.

Punitive damages are available in behavioral and other types of negligence cases if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk and/or behaved extremely recklessly.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Operational Negligence

Some people are physically fit and capable of driving when they get on the road. But, they subsequently make poor choices. If these poor choices constitute a lack of ordinary care, the driver may be legally responsible for damages.

Distracted driving is the most common form of operational negligence. Every year, distracted drivers seriously injure over 390,000 people. Hand-held cellphones may be the main culprit. But studies show that hands-free devices may even be more dangerous. These gadgets still distract drivers by pulling their eyes off the road and taking their minds off driving. Additionally, hands-free devices may give people a false sense of security.

Simple deficiencies, such as failing to look both ways before pulling into traffic, are a serious problem as well. These TBFTL (turned but failed to look) crashes are especially a problem in places like Brainerd. Many people in Crow Wing County drive large SUVs or pickup trucks. These big vehicles inhibit driver vision.

Brainerd personal injury lawyers can suggest several legal options in these cases. People who use cellphones while driving may be liable for damages as a matter of law. In other cases, Brainerd personal injury lawyers can introduce circumstantial evidence and obtain compensation for victims.

Environmental Negligence

Some drivers do not technically break any traffic laws but they may still be liable for damages. They may fail to adjust for adverse conditions like:

  • Wet roads,
  • Darkness,
  • Sunrise/sunset glare, and
  • Fog.

In fact, when conditions are less than ideal, drivers arguably have an enhanced duty of care. They must slow down, use appropriate safety equipment, and have a special degree of driving skill.

The type of driver may also affect the type of environmental or other negligence. Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and other commercial operators are common carriers in Minnesota. These individuals have a special legal responsibility, especially with regard to the safety of passengers in their vehicles.

Connect with Tenacious Attorneys

Negligent drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Should I Call a Buffalo Personal Injury Lawyer If I Used Talcum Powder?

Recent developments in the nationwide talcum powder lawsuits are very favorable to victims. So, even if you used talcum powder years ago, you should definitely discuss your legal options with a Buffalo personal injury lawyer.

Facing an avalanche of liability lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson talc supplier Imerys Talc America filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2019. ITA officials said they believed the 11,000-plus lawsuits were not meritorious, but the company could not afford the legal fees necessary to defend itself in court. A few months earlier, a Missouri jury awarded a staggering $4.7 billion to over twenty women who said that J&J’s talcum powder caused their cancers. Shortly before trial, ITA settled with the plaintiffs in that case for an undisclosed amount.

Johnson & Johnson claims that its talcum powder is safe and said it plans to appeal this most recent verdict.

Talcum Powder Injuries

Until very recently, talcum powder claims, like many other defective product claims, relied on inductive reasoning. The victim used talcum powder over a long period of time, and the victim developed ovarian cancer. So, the talcum powder must have caused the injury.

Let’s put this in more simplistic terms. Inductive reasoning is a conclusion based on very little observation. For example, if Johnny ate spinach and Johnny threw up, then Johnny must be allergic to spinach. A good Buffalo personal injury lawyer can make a connection like that hold up in court, but it isn’t easy.

But assume that Johnny ate spinach that contained traces of strychnine (rat poison) and he later threw up. That connection, while not absolute, is much stronger.

It turns out that women who used talcum powder were not just using talcum powder. They were probably using talcum powder laced with asbestos. This substance is incredibly toxic. Just one fiber can cause cancer. These fibers are incredibly small. 20,000 of them can fit in the space between Abraham Lincoln’s nose and mouth on a U.S. penny. Tiny particles like these can easily migrate to a woman’s sensitive reproductive areas, as well as other parts of the body.

The talcum powder-asbestos link is not surprising. These minerals are very similar, so they often come out of the same general area and go through the same general refining process in about the same area.

The real bombshell in this development is Johnson & Johnson’s knowledge. Between 1972 and 2000, J&J executives had access to thousands of documents detailing the chemical properties of talcum powder. These documents repeatedly used words like “rods,” “fiberform,” and other common asbestos euphemisms.

It gets worse. In 1976, J&J told the Food and Drug Administration that no asbestos had ever been detected in any of its talcum powder products. But between 1972 and 1975, at least three different lab reports, which were in the possession of Johnson & Johnson, showed elevated asbestos levels.

How a Buffalo Personal Injury Attorney Overcomes Legal Hurdles

Cancer usually has a very long incubation period. It may be years or even decades before a victim shows environmental cancer symptoms. Additionally, when they see doctors, the physician often misdiagnosis the condition. The statute of limitations is usually only two years in mass tort cases. So, these delays could be a serious problem.

But the longstanding discovery rule tolls the statute of limitations in these cases. Under Minnesota law, the limitation clock does not begin running until the victim/plaintiff:

  • Knows about the illness, injury, or other condition, and
  • Connects that condition to the defendant’s conduct or misconduct.

Buffalo personal injury attorneys can use the discovery rule in other contexts as well. Assume Mike takes Drug X in 2018, the company amends the warning label in 2019 (after he stopped taking the drug), he goes to the doctor in 2020, and he sees a TV ad which links Drug X and his condition in 2021. The insurance company may argue that the statute of limitations expired in 2018 (two years after took Drug X). But because of the discovery rule, Mike has until 2023 to file a claim.

The Talcum Powder Lawsuit Process

Most talcum powder, mesothelioma, and other mass tort claims are MDL actions. Multi-District Litigation is a way to consolidate many claims that do not qualify as class actions because their facts are not similar enough.

MDL is great for victim/plaintiffs. One judge controls all the discovery and other pretrial aspects of the case. This judge usually has a great deal of experience with that particular kind of case. Additionally, victim/plaintiffs can pool their resources. It’s almost like one Buffalo personal injury attorney is taking on J&J. Finally, if one case settles, the settlement creates momentum in other negotiations. The dominos start falling the right way.

Contact an Aggressive Lawyer

Talcum powder use can cause serious injury. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo personal injury attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

Brainerd Injury Lawyers and Dog Bite Damages

Nationwide, dogs bite about 4.5 million people a year. Roughly a fifth of these victims receive emergency room for their physical wounds. Many more seek psychological or other treatment for their mental wounds. Quality physical and mental healthcare costs money, and compensation is available for these expenses.

Noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, are much harder to calculate. Most Brainerd injury lawyers multiply the economic damages by three, four, or five, depending on the facts of the case and some other factors.

Dog bite damages tend to be higher in Minnesota. The laws are extremely victim-friendly. Aside from the strict liability law, there are a number of other theories, such as negligence, which usually resonate with Crow Wing County jurors.

Economic Damages in Dog Bite Cases

Medical bills are usually the largest item in this category. Overall, after a brief drop after the Great Recession, medical inflation has crept up again.

Dog bite emergency care medical bills are usually quite high, and doctors must be highly skilled to treat these victims. When they bite, most dogs inflict both puncture and tearing wounds. Most trauma injuries are usually just one or the other. Due to the nature of these wounds, doctors usually need to not only treat the injuries but prepare the victim for reconstructive surgery. That’s a very tall order.

A Brainerd injury lawyer can connect victims with the top quality medical care they need. Attorneys have professional relationships with doctors. And these are not just any doctors. These physicians are experienced in dog bite cases. As a bonus, due to this prior relationship, attorney-referred doctors generally charge nothing upfront and lower their fees later on. So, victims don’t have to worry about medical bills. They just need to worry about getting better. And, when a Brainerd injury lawyer resolves the case, victims get to keep more of their settlement money.

The physical injuries are just part of the economic damage picture. Dog bite victims often suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD has been around for a long time. In Act II Scene 3 of Henry IV, Part I, a 1597 William Shakespeare play, Lady Percy describes PTSD symptoms in her husband, who has just returned from war:

O my good lord, why are you thus alone?
For what offense have I this fortnight been
A banished woman from my Harry’s bed?
Tell me, sweet lord, what is ‘t that takes from thee
Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?
Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth,
And start so often when thou sit’st alone?

The symptoms she describes (isolation, anger at family members, depression, sleeplessness, and heightened awareness) are common effects of PTSD.

PTSD is not a “disorder.” It’s a physical brain injury. Exposure to certain combat-like stress erodes the cerebral cortex, which controls logical responses. If that happens, the amygdala, which controls emotional responses, takes over.

Brain injuries are irreversible. Once the cerebral cortex shrinks, it never grows back. However, after extended physical therapy and counseling, neighboring uninjured areas of the brain might assume some of the lost functions. This process sounds painstakingly long, and it is painstakingly long.

Brainerd Injury Lawyers and Noneconomic Damages

As mentioned, tallying economic damages sometimes just means adding medical bills. Before a Brainerd injury lawyer can resolve the case, all this medical treatment must be at least substantially complete. Most settlements include waivers. So, there’s no way for a victim to get more money for additional medical expenses later.

To determine the amount of noneconomic damages, the victim’s own testimony is important. But many dog bite victims are young children who are not very good witnesses. Additionally, victims usually cannot see all the misery that their injuries cause. So, Brainerd injury lawyers need additional evidence, such as:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities (e.g. Sally quit band or Jose left the chess team),
  • Mobility issues which make it slightly more difficult to navigate stairs or get around in other ways, and
  • Embarrassment over physical scars.

Typically, there is a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a victim presents and the amount of damages jurors award.

Additional Punitive Damages

Prior incidents plus serious injury equals more money. That straightforward formula works well in most punitive damages cases. These damages are designed to punish the animal owner and deter future wrongdoing.

In this context, the prior incident usually needs to be a prior attack on another person. That’s different from evidence of knowledge in negligence claims. In that context, a “prior incident” could be non-contact incidents, like baring teeth or aggressive barking. Likewise, serious injury usually means either wrongful death or a debilitating injury.

Legally, to obtain punitive damages, the victim must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that the owner intentionally disregarded a known risk.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Dog bite victims may be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Five Ways a Buffalo Child Custody Lawyer Can Enforce Support Obligations

All over the country, nonresidential parents owe billions of dollars in child support to residential parents. In fact, arrearage is the norm in these cases. Only 44 percent of child support obligees receive the full, court-ordered amount.

For the most part, Minnesota has debtor-friendly laws. It is difficult or impossible to seize assets to pay creditors, especially if the debtor files bankruptcy. Judges are happy to resolve legal disputes, but they are hesitant to be debt collectors. Many judges believe that such action is outside their scope of responsibilities. Since debtors prisons are illegal in the United States, they may be right.

But family support, especially child support, is different. If an obligor owes delinquent support, a Buffalo child custody lawyer can show the obligee a number of options. They range from attention-getting to almost draconian, so generally, you can pick the level of action that’s best for you and your family.

Order to Obtain Employment

The old “I can’t pay child support because I don’t have a job” excuse is not very effective these days. Statewide, unemployment is at a 10-year low. In some areas, such as St. Paul, it is even lower. Because of this environment, many Wright County family law judges are more willing than ever to issue orders to obtain employment, if all three of the following conditions are present:

  • No Employment Verification: In this context, odd jobs and perhaps even independent contracting gigs, like driving for Uber, may not be “employment.” Typically, a judge requires evidence of steady employment, like a few recent paystubs.
  • Substantial Arrearage: The obligor must owe at least three times one months’ support obligation. So, if the monthly obligation is $1,000, a judge will not sign an order to obtain employment unless the obligor owes at least $3,000. Both child support and alimony count here.
  • Failure to Comply with Payment Plan: Many times, obligors promise to add catch-up payments to their monthly obligations. If they make empty promises, a judge may step in.

Generally, the orders require obligors to find jobs that pay approximately what they were making before. Additionally, if the obligor does not make at least five verified attempts to find a job each week, the judge will be very unhappy.

Tax Refund Intercept

This collection method is quite popular during the annual tax season. It may be even more popular this year. Due to the 2017 tax code reforms, many people may be getting larger refunds this year.

A tax refund intercept may not satisfy the entire arrearage amount. But it is extremely easy to collect, as the IRS is quite cooperative in these situations. Tax refund intercept is also a good way for a Buffalo child custody lawyer to learn the obligor’s current address and perhaps even bank account information. This information could be extremely useful in other related family law situations.

Drivers’ License Suspension

Another tax refund intercept plus is that there is no minimum amount. That’s not true in most other cases, including drivers’ license suspension. To take this action, the aforementioned triple arrearage requirement applies. Plus, the order must include a 90-day stay, so the obligor has time to set up a payment arrangement.

This measure may not work right away. Most people who have suspended licenses ignore them and keep driving anyway. But it’s only a matter of time before the obligor gets pulled over or needs to renew the drivers’ license. To move things along faster, the suspension order might also include a motor vehicle lien.

Buffalo Child Custody Lawyers and Professional License Suspension

This enforcement measure is something like an old stick of dynamite. It could do a lot of damage, or it could blow up in your face.

Many people count on a law license, nursing license, medical license, or another state-issued license to make money. Additionally, if they practice the profession while that license is suspended, they could face disciplinary sanctions. So, an occupational license suspension sometimes gets the obligor’s attention faster than anything else.

Then again, the whole thing could backfire. If obligors lose their earning ability, they may petition the court for a child support reduction. More than likely, a Wright County family law judge will at least seriously consider that request.

A Buffalo child custody lawyer will look at all the financial, emotional, and other aspects before making a recommendation in this area.

Bond Payment

This method often supplements one of the methods discussed above. Assume Ralph owes Alice $5,000 in child support. Alice works with a Buffalo child custody lawyer, and faced with possible drivers’ license suspension, Ralph agrees to a payment plan. The judge may also order Ralph to post a bond, perhaps one month’s child support, so Alice will have money if he falls behind again.

Sometimes, a Buffalo child custody lawyer can include a bond payment order in the divorce decree. Typically, Ralph or the other potential delinquent dad must be self-employed and have a history of nonpayment.

Count on Savvy Attorneys

Obligees who are owed child support money have several legal options in Minnesota. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo child custody lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. After-hours visits are available.


How Do Hutchinson Family Law Attorneys Resolve Custody Disputes?

Custody, visitation, and parenting time issues touch almost every McLeod County household at one time or another. Over half of Minnesota children either live in a single parent household, with a biological parent and a stepparent, or in some other non-traditional arrangement.

Furthermore, most people relocate about eleven times in their adult lifetimes. Any relocation usually upsets the delicate parenting time balance set forth in the divorce decree.

Because of this combination, Hutchinson family law attorneys handle numerous custody and visitation modification actions. Typically, these matters are agreed. After an expensive and protracted divorce action, many parents do not want to go back to court again over modification actions. If the parties at least have an agreement in principle, a Hutchinson family law attorney can hammer out the details and submit the agreement for judicial approval.

But not all modification matters are agreed. If they are contested, they usually go through the following three stages.

Step One: Best Interests of the Children

Any parenting time modification must be in the best interests of the children. There is a presumption that children benefit from consistent and meaningful contact with both parents. If the parenting time division strays significantly from 50-50 to the 80-20 area, a McLeod County family law judge will probably not approve it straightaway.

The plan could still pass judicial muster if the parent requesting modification can overcome the equal division presumption. For example, one parent may develop a substance abuse problem or marry someone with a history of domestic violence.

Additionally, the judge must consider a number of factors. Note that all these factors relate to the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents:

  • Needs of the child,
  • Preference of a child,
  • Any history of domestic abuse,
  • Preference and ability of each parent, and
  • Ability to co-parent.

At the Step One phase, the judge’s conclusions are preliminary. If there is any way that the modification might be in the best interests of the children, the court usually allows the action to go forward into the evidence-gathering and resolution phases. The alternative is to throw the matter out of court, and most judges hesitate to take such drastic action.

Step Two: Social Services Investigation

Assuming the action has some legal merit, most judges order social services investigations. The selection process varies by court and jurisdiction. Some judges just assign a social worker at random, and other judges give a Hutchinson family law attorney some input into the selection process.

That input could be important. For example, many modification actions include Parental Alienation Syndrome allegations. Some parents do things like change schedules at the last minute or say derogatory things about the other parent. These actions are designed to drive an emotional wedge between the children and the other parent.

Most people in the family services area know what PAS is and appreciate its dangers. But that’s not true of all social workers.

During the investigation, the social worker typically interviews the parents and children, examines school report cards and other documentary evidence, and talks to doctors, neighbors, and other people who know about the situation. Then, the social worker submits a report to the judge.

A Hutchinson family law attorney can help you put your best foot forward during this process. Additionally, a lawyer can advocate for you when the judge decides what to do in light of the social services investigation report.

Step Three: Mediation

At this point, if the social worker makes clear recommendations, many modification actions settle out of court. But sometimes, the recommendations are rather murky and could be interpreted in several ways. If that’s the case, the matter often goes to mediation.

A third-party mediation, who is often a retired Hutchinson family law attorney, listens to both sides then tries to engineer a settlement. Since the parties stay in separate rooms for most of the session, there is little emotional drama. As a result, the parties focus on the issues. So, mediation works about 75 percent of the time. If it does not work, the case usually goes to a trial before the judge.

Sometimes, Step Three is actually Step One. As mentioned, many times, the parties agree about relocation or other general issues but disagree on the specifics. Sometimes, a neutral Hutchinson family law attorney-mediator can bring the parties together on the details, so there’s no need to go to court.

Contact Savvy Lawyers

Divorce decrees are never meant to be set in stone, so legal modification is pretty much inevitable. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Physician Negligence

When doctors become doctors, they swear that even if they can do no good, they must do no harm. Unfortunately, not all physicians live up to that commitment later in their careers.

Generally, doctors are morally and personally responsible for their own mistakes, just like the rest of us. But legal responsibility is different. Typically, the hospital, clinic, or other entity which employs the doctor is liable for damages in physician-related wrongful death claims. That’s true in negligence cases and some intentional tort claims as well.

Mistakes like the ones outlined below often inflict significant economic and noneconomic damages on Minnesota families. A Brainerd personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain compensation for these losses.

Prescription/Medication Errors

Some physicians prescribe incredibly powerful opioid pain relievers, like Fentanyl, for relatively mild injuries, such as a broken leg. Fentanyl is fifty times stronger than heroin, so patients easily become addicted. In fact, many Fentanyl patients develop opioid addictions even if they take the drug exactly as directed.

To continue taking painkillers after their original doctors cut them off, many patients seek out doctors at “pill mills.” These physicians write prescriptions and do not ask too many questions. Failure to examine the patient’s medical history in these cases is clear evidence of negligence. Consulting the patient’s history, ignoring it, and writing a prescription anyway is even worse.

On a related note, Brainerd personal injury lawyers sometimes become involved in nursing home medication error cases. At a busy care facility, it’s very easy to give the wrong patient the wrong kind of medicine. Alternatively, it’s also easy to misplace a decimal point or transpose two numbers and give a resident the incorrect dose. These explanations do not excuse negligence, and the care facility is still liable for damages.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Birth Injuries

Nothing turns utter joy into utter heartbreak like a serious birth injury. Furthermore, even if the victim survives, the family often faces a lifetime of further heartache and mounting medical bills.

Shoulder dystocia is one of the most common causes of birth injuries in Minnesota. If the baby is too large to move down the mother’s birth canal, the umbilical cord continues dropping. In a matter of minutes, it will cut off oxygen to the baby’s brain. Since doctors know that the clock is ticking, they often get desperate and turn to dangerous delivery aids, such as:

  • Vacuum Extractor: The doctor places a metal cap on the baby’s head and uses a surgical vacuum to literally suck the child out of the mother’s womb. The excessive force often causes fatal injuries to the fragile newborn. Additionally, if not fitted exactly right, the metal cap will cause a permanent brain injury.
  • Forceps: This mechanical delivery instrument resembles a pair of giant salad tongs. The doctor uses forceps to pull the baby out of the womb. Much like a vacuum extractor, forceps often cause several types of fatal injuries.
  • Episiotomy: Once upon a time, doctors routinely made incisions on the mother’s perineum to widen the birth canal. Doctors now know that these incisions often cause uncontrollable maternal bleeding. But when the pressure is on, some doctors fall back on what they once knew.

Other infants and mothers develop serious or fatal hospital infections, perhaps due to something like the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket. This gadget sucks dirty air from the floor, heats it so bacteria grows even faster, and uses it to warm the patient’s blanket.


On average, doctors listen to their patients for eleven seconds before they redirect or interrupt them. After such brief interaction, it’s impossible to know anything meaningful about a patient’s symptoms. So, misdiagnosis is a serious problem, especially with regard to:

  • Cancer: Most doctors see cancer as a lifestyle or genetic disease. So for example, they hardly ever diagnose lung cancer in nonsmokers, breast cancer in men, or bladder cancer in young people.
  • Head Injuries: Many head injury victims are either young children or older adults. When these individuals complain about symptoms like confusion or disorientation, doctors often assign the symptoms to shock from the accident or early-onset dementia. The longer head injuries go undiagnosed, the more difficult they are to treat.
  • Heart Attacks: In many cases, heart attacks lack signature symptoms. For example, many female heart attack victims do not have severe chest pains. Moreover, like cancer, many doctors see heart attacks as lifestyle or genetic conditions.

Making matters worse, many doctors do not order a full battery of tests. They are afraid that the insurance company will not pay for the procedures.

Surgical Errors

It is hard to believe that a doctor could operate on the wrong patient, remove the wrong limb, leave a surgical object inside a patient’s body, or make other such mistakes. However, errors like these are not unheard of, especially in very busy emergency or operating rooms.

Sometimes, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain higher damages in surgical error cases than in other kinds of medical negligence claims. Mistakes like the ones mentioned above are shockingly negligent. Additionally, some courts consider these claims to be battery, which is an intentional tort.

Contact Aggressive Attorneys

Medical negligence often leads to wrongful death. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Lawmakers Begin Marijuana Legalization Debate

Several new House bills would legalize weed, and also expunge drug possession records. While these measures enjoy broad support in the House and new Gov. Tim Walz has indicated he would sign such a bill, legalization still needs to make it past the Senate. Lots of luck with that.

Most of these proposals would not only legalize marijuana possession but also expunge prior criminal records. Marijuana legalization statistics are decidedly mixed. In places where pot is legal, teen marijuana use has declined and so have violent crime rates. But car crash rates have increased and some marijuana-linked psychotropic illnesses, such as schizophrenia and anxiety, have increased as well.

Based on this record, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said he would oppose these measures if they cleared the House. “I am open to having a hearing and work through the process, but the more data I find, personally, the more I’m opposed to it,” he remarked.

Marijuana Laws in Minnesota

Legally, the Gopher State basically has a marijuana cliff. In Wright County, a dozen joints is pretty much the cutoff between a slap on the wrist and a very serious felony.

Possession of under 42.5 grams, which is about twelve to fourteen joints, is a petty misdemeanor. There is no possible jail time, which means no probation or court supervision. The maximum punishment is a $200 fine and a drug education course. Possession over 42.5 grams is a felony (maximum five years in prison and $5,000 fine). So, one joint or dime bag makes a big difference.

Put another way, if an officer sees you smoking a joint on a street corner, it is most likely a traffic ticket. But if officers find your stash or break up your party, you need a really good Buffalo criminal defense lawyer.

To reach the stash or break up the party, under the Constitution, officers need search warrants. But since warrants generally involve substantial investments of time and money (confidential informants usually do not work for free), officers rarely obtain them in marijuana cases, unless they want to dismantle a large distribution ring.

However, there are some search warrant exceptions. Some common exceptions which Buffalo criminal defense lawyers deal with in marijuana cases include:

  • Exigent Circumstances: Officers often use this exception to gain access to a property without a warrant. If officers believe that there is an emergency on the premises, they may go inside and make sure that everyone is okay. So, if two guys scuffle at a party and a neighbor reports a “disturbance,” rest assured that Buffalo police officers will bust down the door.
  • Consent: A house or property owner may allow officers to “have a look around.” Even if the consenting party lacked authority, such as a roommate whose name is not on the lease, the subsequent search and seizure may still be valid.
  • Plain View: Once they are in a house or pull over a car, officers may seize any contraband they see in plain view. If they smell marijuana, they usually look a bit more closely. Since they have probable cause, or at least reasonable suspicion, most Wright County judges allow the heightened plain view search.

If officers did not have a warrant and a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer proves the exception does not apply, the judge may throw out the case. And, even if the prosecutor refiles charges and starts over, the same procedural defect remains.

Can a Buffalo Criminal Defense Lawyer Beat These Charges?

Absolutely. In possession cases, officers normally arrest everyone in at the party or everyone in the car if they find any weed. But in this context, “proximity” is not the same thing as “possession.” In addition to proximity, a Wright County prosecutor must also establish:

  • Knowledge: The defendant must know that there was marijuana in the car or at the party. So, a defendant could literally be sitting on a dime bag and not possess it in a legal sense. General knowledge that “something illegal is in the glovebox” is insufficient.
  • Control: Moreover, the defendant must have actual or potential control over the drugs. People in the back seat usually cannot possess something in the front seat, especially if the car is packed with people. Similarly, if someone is smoking marijuana outside, people in the living room cannot possess it.

Another defense involves the type of marijuana seized. The drugs must be a useable quantity of marijuana. Burnt residue usually does not count. This defense is important in borderline petty misdemeanor/serious felony cases.

Sentencing Alternatives

If the defendant has a decent defense, a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer can often engineer a favorable plea bargain agreement. Almost all criminal cases, upwards of 95 percent by most counts, settle out of court in this way.

In a misdemeanor, prosecutors normally offer pretrial diversion. If the defendant pays a small fee, completes a class, and jumps through a few other hoops, prosecutors normally dismiss the case. The arrest record remains, but a marijuana arrest is a lot less damaging than a marijuana conviction.

In a felony, deferred adjudication may be available. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the prosecutor dismisses the charges. This procedure has some significant cons as well, so discuss your options carefully with a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer.

Connect with Experienced Attorneys

Marijuana is still illegal in Minnesota, and it looks like it may stay that way for awhile. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Five Common DUI Field Sobriety Tests

In most cases, the FSTs serve as probable cause for a chemical sample request. “Probable cause” is not a well-defined term, but in Minnesota, it is not much more than an evidence-based hunch.

However, in a significant number of instances, the defendant refuses to provide a breath or blood sample. If that happens, McLeod County prosecutors must use the FSTs to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. That’s a much higher evidentiary standard. In general, reasonable doubt is anything beyond speculative, capricious, or fanciful doubt.

So, in these cases, a Hutchinson DUI defense lawyer has an opportunity to significantly undermine the FSTs, as outlined below.

The stakes are high. Even a first-time DUI conviction normally means high fines, extended court supervision, and driving restrictions. Additionally, DUIs have a number of collateral consequences, such as sky-high auto insurance rates.

Finger to Nose Test

The FNT is primarily a balance test. Subjects must tilt their heads back and touch the tips of their index fingers to the tips of their noses. In some areas, police officers dress this test up and include things like counting or reciting part of the alphabet.

But no matter what bells and whistles officers add, this test has no scientific foundation. As a result, Hutchinson DUI defense lawyers can often exclude these test results, or at least see that they are admitted only for limited purposes.

Romberg Balance Test

If the FNT is under-scientific, the Romberg test may have the opposite problem. It is over-scientific. The test appears simple. Subjects must stand straight for one minute with their eyes closed. They must also silently count sixty seconds. This test measures:

  • Proprioception (knowing one’s body position in space),
  • Vestibular ability (knowing one’s head position in space), and
  • Vision (using one’s eyes to adjust balance).

Despite all these multi-syllable words and the Romberg Test’s long history (it was developed in the early 1800s), the test has almost no scientific merit. For that reason, McLeod County judges often exclude it. However, Hutchinson DUI defense lawyers often allow the jury to review it. Many officers do not know how the test works, and the lack of knowledge makes them look bad. If nothing else, jurors are often impressed when a Hutchinson DUI defense lawyer discusses abstruse topics like vestibular skills and proprioception.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The HGN is the first test in the approved three-test battery. It’s a medical test designed to identify nystagmus, which is also known as lazy eye.

Most people have probably taken an HGN test before at a doctor’s office. Subjects must track moving objects, like a flashlight bulb, by moving their eyes while their heads remain still. If the pupil moves involuntarily at certain angles, the person probably has nystagmus.

If administered under controlled conditions, the HGN test is quite effective. But roadside HGN tests are not administered under controlled conditions. Flashing strobe lights pulse in the distance while cars and their headlights zoom past at high speeds. Especially if the subject is not directly under a very bright light, it’s very difficult to spot subtle pupil movements.

Additionally, many people have nystagmus and do not know it. The condition is so subtle that it only appears during periods of extreme stress, such as a DUI arrest. So, even if the person “fails” the HGN test, intoxication is probably not the reason.

One Leg Stand

In many ways, the OLS is the test that the FTN tries to be. In the One Leg Stand, subjects must elevate one leg for fifteen seconds and balance on the other leg. The OLS is a divided attention test. It measures physical dexterity and the defendant’s ability to count. Because of the way alcohol affects the brain, intoxicated people have a hard time multitasking in this way.

If a person has any mobility impairments whatsoever, it’s impossible to complete the OLS, drunk or sober. Typically, the defendant has already undergone several tests, so the defendant is already physically and mentally tired. Therefore, OLS results are often worse than they would be otherwise.

Walk and Turn

This test, which is also known as the HTW or heel-to-toe walk test, basically combines the worst elements of the HGN and OLS.

Many times, officers ask defendants to walk an imaginary line as opposed to an actual line. That’s quite difficult to do, especially in the dark. Additionally, if the surface is not flat as a table, it’s easy to lose one’s balance when walking heel to toe.

Type of shoes may be an issue as well. Officers sometimes give women the chance to remove high-heel shoes. But they do not always offer this choice, and if it’s cold or wet, removing one’s shoes is not really an option. Other kinds of footwear, such as flip-flops and cowboy boots, may affect this test as well. Officers almost never give people a chance to remove these kinds of shoes.

Connect with Tenacious Attorneys

The FSTs are stacked against the defendant. To level the playing field, you need an experienced Hutchinson DUI defense lawyer. So, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A., for a free consultation. Home and jail visits are available.


Three Most Common Head Injury Causes

Every year, almost three million Americans go to hospital emergency rooms following serious head injuries. Traumatic Brain Injuries are a factor in about a third of the unintentional deaths in the United States. Despite the severity of these injuries, many people do not get the medical help they need right away.

TBIs are rather difficult to diagnose. Many people do not lose consciousness, vomit, or have other signature symptoms. Doctors often mistake the other symptoms, such as confusion, with either trauma from the injury or early-onset dementia. Furthermore, the brain is very adept at hiding its own injury. So, many TBI victims “feel fine” and do not press the doctor for treatment.

These facts often make a serious injury even more serious. As a result, a Brainerd personal injury attorney may be able to obtain significant compensation for these victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic damages, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may also be available, in some cases.

Understanding the common causes of these injuries makes it easier for victims to get the medical care they need. This prompt medical care also increases the financial compensation that’s available later.


The aforementioned misdiagnosis issues are especially acute in slip-and-fall and other head trauma injuries. Such trauma injuries account for a large portion of the TBIs in Crow Wing County.

Most emergency responders easily identify trauma injuries, due to bleeding and swelling. But head trauma injuries do not display these symptoms. The skull hides internal bleeding and also compresses the brain. So, there is no visible injury. As a result, brain bleeding and swelling often go undetected.

Ordinarily, trauma injuries heal, given sufficient time and medical attention. But head trauma injuries are permanent. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate. It’s only possible to alleviate the symptoms. Doctors can perform surgery to stop the bleeding and reduce the swelling. Later, a physical therapist can work with a victim so that uninjured parts of the brain take over the lost functions. But these processes are long, difficult, and expensive.


Most people know that it’s possible to scramble an egg just by shaking it. In many ways, the human head is a lot like an egg. Sudden, violent motion causes the brain to smash against the inside of the skull. So, this motion almost literally scrambles the brain in the same way that it scrambles an egg.

These motion-related head injuries are especially common in car crash cases, mostly because of the whiplash effect. When a fast-moving car hits a solid object, the occupants in the car continue moving forward at the same speed. As a result, their necks usually surge forward then snap back, much like the cracking of a whip.

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury. It normally does not show up on cat scans, X-rays, and other diagnostic tests. Doctors must diagnose whiplash according to the symptoms, and as mentioned above, that’s difficult to do.

Fortunately, a Brainerd personal injury attorney can connect head injury victims with experienced accident physicians. These professionals know how to spot conditions like whiplash. They also know how to treat these injuries. Typically, these individuals charge nothing upfront for their services. So, a Brainerd personal injury attorney ensures that victims get the treatment they need, and not just the treatment they can afford.

Sudden Loud Noise

Many of these head injury practitioners say that a TBI is the “signature injury” of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. A disproportionate number of veterans come home with these kinds of injuries. That’s probably because of the prevalence of explosive blasts in these conflicts.

Researchers have recently learned that explosive blasts produce shock waves which are basically biological Electromagnetic Pulses. Normal EMPs shut down electronic devices, and biological EMPs disrupt brain functions.

Here is Minnesota, truck accidents cause many EMP-related brain injuries. Witnesses often describe the noise of these crashes as like explosions. Additionally, many of these crashes involve fireball explosions. These vehicles often carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel, a concoction which is much more volatile than gasoline.

Truck accidents are usually legally complex for several reasons. These incidents often involve the respondeat superior rule. According to this legal doctrine, a shipping company or other large truck owner is responsible for the damages a driver negligently causes. Additionally, many truck drivers have licenses in several different states. So, it’s difficult to accurately assess the tortfeasor’s driving record.

Respondeat superior and driving record are directly relevant to the amount of compensation a Brainerd personal injury attorney can obtain in these cases.

Reach Out to Assertive Lawyers

Serious brain injuries come in many shapes and sizes. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.

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