Left Turn Motorcycle Wrecks and Buffalo Car Crash Lawyers

These kinds of motorcycle crashes, which are also known as SMIDSY wrecks (for sorry, mate, I didn’t see you), are quite common in Wright County. Generally, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is waiting to make an unprotected left turn against traffic, either at an intersection or to enter/exit a private driveway. The tortfeasor does not see the motorcyclist and turns directly into the bike’s path.

Frequently, tortfeasors do not take the time to look around large vehicles, like SUVs and pickups. So, their vision is limited and they do not see small motorcycles. Other drivers do not look for motorcycles at all. Either way, the tortfeasor is clearly at fault. However, there is often a difference between fault and liability. More on that below.

Riders normally suffer serious injuries in these cases. Therefore, a Buffalo car crash lawyer can usually obtain substantial compensation for victims and their families. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Building Succesful Left-Turn Crash Claims

Theoretical fault is not enough. A Buffalo car crash lawyer must also prove actual fault. That usually means negligence per se or ordinary negligence.

If emergency responders cited the tortfeasor for making an illegal left turn, the tortfeasor might be liable for damages as a matter of law. This doctrine applies if:

  • The tortfeasor broke a safety law, such as failure to yield the right-of-way, and
  • That violation substantially caused injury.

Unfortunately, first responders rarely issue citations after SMIDSY crashes, even if the motorcyclist died. As a result, Buffalo car crash lawyers often use the ordinary negligence doctrine.

Essentially, negligence is a lack of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. If they fail to maintain a proper lookout and cause a crash, they could be liable for damages. Driver impairment, such as alcohol use, fatigue, or distraction, contributes significantly to a negligence claim.

Evidence like driver impairment is not just important for liability purposes. It’s also important for damages purposes. Typically, there is a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages Wright County jurors award.

Buffalo Car Crash Lawyers and Motorcycle Wreck Defenses

Evidence is not the only determining factor in terms of liability. Insurance company defenses often come into play here as well.

Contributory negligence is one of the most common insurance company defenses in motorcycle wreck claims. This rule shifts responsibility for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. A few riders do things like lane-split (drive between cars stacked up in traffic) or speed. In these situations, jurors must divide fault between the victim and tortfeasor on a percentage basis.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still responsible for a proportionate share of damages. Additionally, insurance companies have the burden of proof, and the burden of persuasion, in these situations. A Buffalo car crash lawyer must only play defense and keep the insurance company out of the endzone.

Another legal loophole, the last clear chance rule, often comes up in left-turn motorcycle wreck claims. If the rider had a reasonable chance to avoid the crash, perhaps by changing speeds or lanes, yet did not do so, the rider is legally responsible for the crash.

But the last clear chance rule often does not apply in motorcycle crash claims. If riders change speeds or lanes quickly, they often lose control of their bikes. That’s especially true if environmental, traffic, and other conditions are less than ideal. So, if they try to avoid one crash, they might cause another one.

Resolving Your Claim for Damages

Diligent evidence collection and thoughtful legal analysis are essential in these cases. Assuming a Buffalo car crash lawyer does these things well, the claim usually settles out of court.

Sometimes, the insurance company settles after an attorney sends a demand letter. Legally, if liability is clear, the insurance company has a duty to quickly resolve the claim. However, largely because of the aforementioned defenses, there is usually at least some liability dispute.

Therefore, many personal injury claims settle during mediation. Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is about 90 percent successful. Mediation is good for both sides because it reduces litigation costs, saves time, and gives the parties more control over the outcome.

Contact Experienced Attorneys

Left-turn motorcycle crash claims might seem straightforward, but they are often complex. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN car crash lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

Can a Minnesota Personal Injury Attorney Help Brain Injury Victims?

Disabling head injuries are not limited to football players. In fact, over five million Americans live with such injuries. Another party’s negligence, whether it be a sports group or an individual, usually causes these injuries.

As victims struggle to recover from these wounds, insurance companies often pressure them relentlessly to settle their claims. Adjusters know that these victims are experiencing severe financial distress. So, it’s often tempting to take the settlement offer. But victims cannot possibly know if the offers are fair.

As outlined below, a Minnesota personal injury attorney addresses both these concerns. So, victims can focus on their recoveries.

Brain Injury Causes

Motor vehicle collisions cause most brain injuries in Minnesota. These incidents often combine all three common head injury causes, which are:

  • Trauma: Even the most advanced restraint systems cannot absorb all the force in a high-speed car crash. So, victims often slam their heads on solid objects.
  • Motion: The brain does not fit snugly inside the skull. Instead, the brain is suspended in a deep pool of cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore, when victims’ heads violently move backward and forward during crashes, their brains repeatedly slam against the insides of their skulls.
  • Noise: Most witnesses say that car crashes sound like explosions. These sudden loud noises trigger shockwaves which disrupt brain functions.

Frequently, car crash head injury victims do not feel injured. The brain usually masks its own wounds. That’s why the aforementioned concussed athletes often ask their coaches to put them back in the game because they “feel fine.” So, it’s always important to go to a car crash injury specialist. Otherwise, a serious head injury might go untreated.

Falls are another leading cause of brain injuries. These incidents could cause a motion or trauma-related brain injury. And, most fall victims have no protective gear to lessen the blow.

Assaults also cause a number of head wounds. If inadequate security, like a burned-out security light or an inadequate security system, contributed to the assault, the landowner might be responsible for damages. That’s assuming the landowner had a legal duty to protect the victim and the landowner knew about the problem.

Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers and Short-Term Help

As mentioned, immediate medical assistance is critical in head injury cases. If the damage spreads and symptoms become worse, these wounds are much more difficult to treat.

Unfortunately, head injuries are among the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions. Many victims do not experience signature symptoms, like unconsciousness or nausea. When patients report lesser symptoms, such as soreness or confusion, doctors often dismiss these symptoms as shock from the incident. That’s especially true in car crash cases.

Therefore, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer does not just connect a victim with a doctor. This doctor is usually an injury specialist who knows how to diagnose and treat head injuries.

There’s more. At this point, many victims are out of work. And, head injury medical bills often exceed $100,000. Most families do not have the resources to pay these costs.

So, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer typically sends a letter of protection to the medical provider. This letter guarantees payment when the case is resolved. Thus, the provider charges nothing upfront. Prior to the case’s resolution, Minnesota personal injury lawyers typically negotiate with providers and lower the medical bills. That could mean the victim gets to keep more of the settlement money.

Long-Term Assistance

Medical treatment is not just important for the victim’s health. It’s also an important evidence-collection tool. In addition to diagnosis and treatment information, most medical records contain notes about the patient’s pain level and general attitude. Since victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in negligence cases, Minnesota personal injury lawyers must collect as much evidence as possible.

Additional witness statements are often important as well. Many head injury victims cannot give testimony in court, either because they did not survive the injury or they do not remember it. Minnesota personal injury lawyers, often working with private investigators, know how to reach out to witnesses who may have seen something.

Strong, evidence-based claims frequently settle out of court. So, victims need not go to trial to obtain compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

Head injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Vehicle Collision Defenses and Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers

The average car wreck causes about $20,000 in economic losses, such as property damage, medical bills, and lost wages. Depending on the facts of the case, compensation for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, might be two or three times the amount of economic losses. Therefore, in any given vehicle collision case, there is a substantial amount of money at stake.

Despite what TV commercials might imply, the insurance company is not “on your side” if you are a car crash victim. Instead, many companies look for legal loopholes that might reduce or deny compensation. Keep reading to find out more about some of these loopholes.

A Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, on the other hand, is definitely on your side. Lawyers collect evidence which supports compensation claims and then effectively present that evidence in court or at the bargaining table. As a result, victims obtain the financial resources they need to put their shattered lives back together.

The Seatbelt Defense

Like every other state except New Hampshire, Minnesota has a mandatory seatbelt law. In fact, the Gopher State’s seatbelt law is broader than most. All occupants, whether they are in the front or back seat and whether they are adults or children, must wear seatbelts. And, small children must be in age-appropriate car seats.

In many states, if victims do not wear seatbelts, insurance companies can at least reduce the amount of compensation they receive. Furthermore, many jurors refuse to award damages in these cases. Many jurors feel that, if unrestrained people are injured in car crashes, it’s their own fault.

However, in Minnesota, the so-called seatbelt defense is nonexistent. Evidence of seatbelt non-use is flatly inadmissible in civil court. Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must be vigilant in this area. Insurance defense lawyers often try to suggest that maybe the victim was not wearing a seatbelt. Such implications are illegal in Minnesota.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Contributory Negligence

Thanks to Section 169.685, many insurance company lawyers do not even try to talk about seatbelt non-use. The penalties for violating this law are too great.

Contributory negligence is on the other end of the spectrum. Comparative fault is perhaps the most common insurance company defense in Minnesota car wreck claims. This doctrine shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) onto the victim.

Assume Driver made a rolling right turn at a red light. Since she was looking to the left watching for oncoming traffic, she did not see Pedestrian, who was crossing the street outside the crosswalk. Technically, both parties are partially at fault. Driver failed to obey a traffic signal, and Pedestrian was jaywalking.

In these situations, the Crow Wing County jury must listen to the evidence and divide fault between the victim and tortfeasor on a percentage basis.

The percentage division is important, because contributory negligence laws differ slightly in different states. Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if Driver was at least 51 percent responsible for the wreck, Driver is liable for a proportionate share of damages.

Insurance companies bear the burden of proof and the burden of persuasion in comparative fault cases. First, lawyers must convince the judge that the victim’s fault substantially contributed to the accident. Then, they must convince jurors of the same thing. Each time, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer can challenge the insurance company’s evidence.

Sudden Emergency/Last Clear Chance

At worst, contributory negligence usually reduces the amount of compensation the victim receives. Sudden emergency and its legal cousin eliminate compensation altogether.

The sudden emergency defense often comes up in pedestrian claims. Frequently, insurance company lawyers argue the victim “darted out into traffic” and so a collision was inevitable. Legally, this defense applies if the tortfeasor reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency.

“Sudden emergency” has a limited meaning in this context. The label only applies to unexpected situations, like a lightning strike. Everyday events, such as careless pedestrians, are not sudden emergencies.

Last clear chance often arises in rear-end or head-on crash claims. Assume Sam crossed the center line and Brenda did not swerve or do anything else to avoid the crash. Brenda could be legally responsible for the wreck, even though Sam drove recklessly.

There’s a big difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. Frequently, because of traffic or other conditions, sudden emergency maneuvers might cause a more serious wreck than the one they avoid.

Contact a Dedicated Attorney

Insurance companies often cite legal loopholes to avoid paying fair compensation to accident victims. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury claims.

Dog Bite Injuries and Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers

Pet owners are common in communities across America. So, it’s not surprising that dogs bite almost five million Americans a year. Some of these incidents are not much more than annoying. But many of them cause serious physical and emotional injuries, as outlined below.

Largely due to the complex nature of these injuries, along with rising hospitalization costs since the end of the Great Recession, the average dog bite settlement amount has increased 76 percent since 2003. These settlement amounts usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Occasionally, these settlements also include additional punitive damages.

To successfully resolve animal attack claims, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must understand the nature of dog bite injuries and how they affect victims as well as families.

Physical Injuries

Every dog bite case is different. But most serious injury claims involve large mastiff breed animals, like pit bulls or rottweilers, and small children or other vulnerable victims.

When a big dog launches itself toward a small child, the knockdown by itself usually causes serious injuries. Some of them include:

  • Head Injuries: Contrary to popular myth, the impact of hitting the ground is not the only issue here. The sudden, violent motion might be enough to cause a head injury. This motion causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull.
  • Internal Injuries: This same force causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. Since these organs lack protective skin layers, they often bleed profusely. Frequently, doctors have a hard time identifying and stopping internal bleeding.
  • Broken Bones: When children fall off their bikes, the broken bones usually set easily and heal completely. But when large dogs attack small children, the broken bones do not mend nearly as easily. Doctors typically use metal screws or plates to set them, and even after physical therapy, there may be some permanent loss of use.

In most cases, the knockdown is just the beginning. When dogs bite, their teeth cause tearing lacerations and deep puncture wounds. The lacerations often require delicate reconstructive surgery to correct, and the deep puncture wounds make the aforementioned internal bleeding even worse. In fact, many small children lose so much blood that they are on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders arrive.

Dog bite injuries have very high infection rates. The most common bacterial infections are Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Capnocytophaga, and Pasteurella. If the victim had a pre-existing condition or a compromised immune system, as is often the case, these infections are often life-threatening.

A tiny amount of bacteria can cause a serious anaphylactic or other reaction. So, if a dog bites your child, it’s always important to see a doctor straightaway, even if the child does not seem seriously injured.

Brainerd, MN injury lawyers do more than obtain compensation for all these medical bills. Attorneys also arrange for victims to receive prompt medical care, usually at no upfront cost. Providers who focus on dog bite injuries typically provide this care. These providers know how to identify and treat things like head injuries and bacterial infections. These conditions are normally hard to diagnose and address.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and Emotional Animal Attack Injuries

Many child victims develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Frequently, the symptoms do not appear for several months. So, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must not move to settle such cases too quickly. If that happens, the victims might not receive fair compensation for all their injuries.

PTSD is a physical brain injury. It is not a processing disorder. Therefore, PTSD is permanent. Once brain cells are damaged, they never regenerate. That being said, extensive therapy can address symptoms like nightmares, depression, hypervigilance, and flashbacks. So, former victims can still have normal childhoods.

Your Claim for Damages

To obtain the aforementioned compensation, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers have several options. Minnesota has a very broad strict liability law. Owners are technically responsible for damages even if the dog had never bitten anyone before and had never shown any dangerous propensities.

Scienter (knowledge) is another option. Owners are liable for damages if they knew their animals were potentially dangerous yet they did nothing to keep them away from people. Evidence of knowledge includes previous attacks and pre-bite behavior, like loud barking or sudden lunging.

Insurance company defenses in dog bite claims usually revolve around the assumption of the risk rule. Specific facts include provocative behavior or a “Beware of Dog” sign. These defenses do not always hold up in court. In Minnesota, provocation is far more than aggressive teasing. And, warning signs are only legally valid in certain situations.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Animal attack victims are entitled to substantial compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

When Can Minnesota Family Lawyers Modify Child Support Obligations?

For many families, child support payments are a significant chunk of their monthly income. But only about a third of obligees (people receiving support) receive the full amount every month. Many obligors (people paying support) pay what they feel is fair as opposed to what is ordered. In these situations, the child support amount should probably be modified, so obligor, obligees, and children have similar expectations.

Child support obligations are somewhat easier to modify in Minnesota than they are in some other jurisdictions. The Gopher State is an income share state. Since the child support obligation accounts for a number of economic and noneconomic factors, judges can usually modify support amounts.

Intentionally underpaying support is a bad idea. It’s only a matter of time before the state takes action. So, whether you need to increase or decrease the child support obligation, it’s best to partner with a Minnesota family lawyer.

Income Decreases

Monthly income is one of the leading factors in child support determinations. So, if the obligor’s income has decreased, a child support modification is usually in order. It’s normally best to act quickly in these cases since child support decreases are normally not retroactive.

Proof of income is normally enough evidence, particularly for obligors who only have W-2 income. Self-employed obligors might need to submit additional proof, such as several years of tax returns or several months of bank statements, to show the income decrease was authentic and consistent.

Minnesota family lawyers usually cannot decrease the amount if there is evidence that the obligor intentionally left a higher-paying job to reduce his or her child support obligation. Evidence of intentional underemployment includes things such as social media posts or likes about the high cost of child support or the supposed unfairness of these payments. Such chatter is especially common on some dubious fathers’ rights websites.

Minnesota Family Lawyers and Income Increases

Income increases are a bit more difficult to prove unless a Minnesota family lawyer conducts extensive discovery. This process is often expensive and time-consuming. So, it’s better to look for circumstantial evidence of income increase, like lifestyle upgrades or a sudden improved ability to pay monthly bills. If the obligor contests the increase despite this evidence, many judges order obligors to pay the other side’s attorneys’ fees.

Establishing changed income is not enough. That change must also be substantial and permanent. As a rule of thumb, any change greater than about 10 percent is substantial. Judges mike modify child support obligations for lesser amounts, but such changes are not easy. Additionally, the increased income must be permanent. Self-employment income spikes and occasional bonuses are almost always insufficient.

Income change modifications are typically agreed motions. Generally, a Minnesota family lawyer simply submits these orders. Most judges sign them without hearings.

Frequently, both parents are not 100 percent convinced that a modification is needed. Pre-filing mediation is often useful in these situations. A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Minnesota family lawyer, works with both sides to facilitate a settlement.

Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is about 90 percent successful. This form of alternative dispute resolution saves everyone time and money.

Emotional Changes

The timesharing arrangement is also a factor in Minnesota child support orders. So, the timesharing division is also a potential factor in child support modification actions. However, emotional-based modifications are not easy to prove.

The same basic principles apply. The emotional changes must be substantial. Usually, only a significant change in the number of overnight visits convinces judges to make such modifications. Alternatively, conversions from partial visitation to full visitation might suffice as well. For example, Father might have had limited contact with his son until he overcame an alcohol addiction.

Parental Alienation Syndrome, which comes in many forms, often clouds these issues. Alienating parents try to drive an emotional wedge between the targeted parent and the child. If the judge sees any evidence of PAS, such as a sudden change of parental preference, they will usually not modify custody or support unless a social worker makes a favorable recommendation.

Talk to a Compassionate Attorney

Various factors could support a successful child support modification motion. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota family lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and after-hours visits are available.

Evidence in Drugged Driving Cases and Buffalo, MN DUI Lawyers

One day soon, marijuana Breathalyzers might revolutionize drugged driving prosecutions in Wright County. Under current law, if the defendant’s THC level was above five nanograms per milliliter of blood, the defendant was intoxicated as a matter of law. Marijuana, whether it was legally acquired or not, is the leading source of drugged driving prosecutions in Minnesota, followed by prescription medications like Xanax and Oxycontin.

For the foreseeable future, prosecutors must normally rely on rather thin circumstantial evidence to convict defendants in these situations. The burden of proof is very high. So, in order to overcome the presumption of innocence, the amount of evidence must be almost overwhelming.

Given the current environment, a skilled Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer is often able to successfully resolve these cases. That resolution could be a complete dismissal of charges, a not-guilty verdict at trial, or a favorable plea bargain arrangement.

Unapproved Drug Impairment Tests

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has approved three field sobriety tests for use in DUI-drug arrests. These tests arguably have some scientific basis, although that basis is rather shaky, as outlined below.

Nevertheless, many Wright County law enforcement officers have defendants perform unapproved tests as well. These tests fatigue defendants mentally and physically, so they do not do as well on the tests that count. Additionally, unless a Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer objects to their use, these test results are usually admissible in court.

Romberg’s balance test is probably the most common unapproved test. A German scientist developed this test about two hundred years ago. Subjects must stand perfectly straight while their eyes are closed and their heads are tilted back. This position robs subjects of the three things needed to maintain balance, which are:

  • Knowing the position of one’s body (proprioception),
  • Knowing one’s head position (vestibular function), and
  • Vision.

Sometimes, officers add additional bells and whistles, like having subjects touch the tips of their noses with their index fingers.

A Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer can normally get this test, and other tests, excluded. However, it’s sometimes best to let an officer try to explain things like “vestibular function” and “proprioception” to jurors. If the officer does not know the underlying principles of this test, which is likely, it looks like the state is trying to railroad the defendant.

Buffalo, MN DUI Lawyers and Approved Drug Impairment Field Tests

The Horizontal Dage Nystagmus test is usually the first approved test in the three-test battery. Subjects must follow moving objects, like ink pens, using only their eyes. If a pupil moves involuntarily at certain angles, the subject probably has nystagmus.

Drug impairment is one cause of nystagmus. But it’s not the only cause. It’s not even the leading cause. Genetic abnormalities and mild childhood brain injuries cause most nystagmus cases. This condition is also known as lazy eye. Many people have a lazy eye, but the symptoms are so mild they do not know it.

The bottom line is that many people “fail” this test even if they are not high or stoned. As a result, many Wright County judges only admit HGN test results for limited purposes.

The Walk and Turn usually comes next. Walking a straight line is probably the signature drug impairment field test. During this exam, officers look for a number of clues, such as swaying or not walking heel to toe, which indicate drug impairment.

Environmental factors often affect this test. It’s very difficult to walk an imaginary line unless the surface is perfectly level and flat. Additionally, it’s hard to maintain concentration when cars whiz by at high speeds and flashing strobe light dance on the top of the squad car.

By the time defendants get to the One Leg Stand, they are usually fatigued mentally and physically, especially if they had to do unapproved tests. Under these conditions, anyone with any mobility impairment will be unable to pass this test. Additionally, officers often issue failing grades on this test because of technicalities, like holding the elevated leg at slightly the wrong angle.

Drug Recognition “Experts”

DREs are police officers who have additional training in this area. That additional training usually comes exclusively from a brief, police-sponsored seminar, so its educational value might be limited.

If the DRE comes to the scene of the arrest early and administers the field sobriety tests, these individuals have some credibility. They are better able to grade tests than officers on the street.

But frequently, DREs arrive after the FSTs are in progress or completed. If they testify in court, a Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer can usually challenge the testimony. Their conclusion is based on hearsay, and under Minnesota law, these police officers normally do not qualify as “experts.”

Contact an Assertive Attorney

It is not easy for the state to prove DUI-drug cases beyond a reasonable doubt. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN DUI lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Why is Paternity Such an Important Part of Buffalo Family Law?

A generation ago, out-of-wedlock births were quite rare. But things have changed a lot since the 1960s. Now, such births are the norm, at least among some population groups. These families must overcome some unique emotional, financial, and other obstacles. Paternity orders are a great help. Some of the key benefits are outlined below.

As far as Buffalo family lawyers are concerned, these matters are usually rather straightforward. A man’s signature on a birth certificate is not conclusive proof of paternity, but it does create a nearly-irrebuttable presumption. In other cases, most men agree to paternity. In other cases, the judge usually orders a DNA test. These tests are incredibly accurate and completely non-invasive. And, if the alleged father refuses to provide a sample, the judge normally assumes the results would have been positive.

Financial Support

Regular child support payments might be the biggest financial advantage of a paternity order. Additionally, a court order gives mothers access to a number of enforcement tools, such as wage garnishment and payment intercept, if they become necessary.

Minnesota is an income share state. So, child support payments help children have the same lifestyle they would have had if their parents were married.

Other financial support might be available as well. For example, a Buffalo family lawyer can insert language ordering the father to provide partial reimbursement of hospital and other birth expenses. And, child support orders usually require obligors (people paying support) to include the children on group health insurance plans.

Personal Protection

Some mothers are reluctant to file paternity actions because they do not want the fathers to know where they live. That’s quite unfortunate, because in many cases, a paternity order is the best way to protect mothers and their children.

Many paternity orders include either temporary or permanent protective orders. These orders routinely prohibit fathers from coming to certain places, like the mother’s place of business, or doing certain things, like interfering with utility services. Other provisions might order fathers to surrender firearms or attend anger management classes.

These protective orders are more than pieces of paper. Law enforcement might not quickly respond to things like stalking reports. But if the stalking involves the violation of a court order, the outcome is usually different. Additionally, court orders allow mothers to give third parties, like daycares and schools, formal notice about the situation.

Enforceable Visitation Limits and Buffalo Family Lawyers

Many parents have informal visitation arrangements which work very well. In other cases, however, establishing a consistent schedule is quite difficult. These arrangements are especially hard on young children who need stability and predictability.

Paternity orders include parenting time schedules. Everyone falls into a visitation routine. And, if circumstances change, a Buffalo family lawyer can modify these provisions later.

Access to Medical Records

Family history is a significant part of many medical diagnoses, especially serious chronic conditions like diabetes or heart problems. If the child has no legal father, the doctor only has access to half the family history. A paternity order gives doctors the legal authority to obtain the information they need.

On a related note, paternity orders give mothers the right to control access to things like educational and counseling records.

Additional Paternal Responsibility

A Buffalo family lawyer almost always obtains the relief outlined in the above sections. This final benefit does not happen in all cases, but it does happen in most of them.

Frequently, court orders encourage fathers to step up to the plate, both financially and emotionally. Before a paternity order, child support payments might occasionally trickle in. But once court supervision begins, these payments are normally much more consistent. Emotionally, the same thing often happens. Fathers who dropped by once or twice a month are usually at the appointed exchange place at the appropriate time. Children benefit, especially in terms of these emotional changes.

Connect with a Compassionate Attorney

Paternity orders make family life easier. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo family lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

Jail Release and Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers

The Gopher State has one of the highest unsentenced inmate percentages in the United States. Most jail inmates are simply waiting for their trial dates. They have not been convicted of anything. This situation is not good for a number of reasons, some of which are outlined below.

The high unsentenced inmate population gives Minnesota criminal defense lawyers more options than ever in terms of jail release. Keep reading to learn more about them. In most cases, even if you were charged with a serious felony, there’s no reason to wait for your trial date in an iron cage.

Why Jail Release is Important

Pretrial detention makes it very difficult to successfully resolve criminal cases. In fact, according to many observers, pretrial detention transforms the presumption of innocence into a presumption of guilt.

These individuals understandably want quick trial dates. As a result, a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer might be forced to take shortcuts during the case evaluation and evidence collection processes. Furthermore, many people who are behind bars accept unfavorable plea bargain arrangements just to “get it over with.” Indirect effects, like immigration consequences of a felony conviction,  do not get the attention they deserve.

Jail release is also important for personal reasons, and not all these reasons are obvious. For example, incarceration greatly increases stress hormone production. Prolonged exposure to these hormones alters brain chemistry. Have you ever known a person who went to jail and came back as a different person? That’s because their brains are different.

Initial Jail Release

Blue states like Minnesota have rather liberal jail release policies. However, only a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer knows how to take full advantage of them.

If the defendant is charged with a nonviolent offense and has no criminal record, pretrial release might be an option. A review board examines the case, and if the board decides OR (own recognizance) release is appropriate, the board tells the Sherriff to release the defendant without posting any financial security.

Even if they meet the minimum qualifications, not everyone receives OR release. Sometimes, the board thinks that the defendant does not take the charges seriously. If the defendant has already hired a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer, that concern is irrelevant.

Cash bond is almost always an option. Essentially, cash bond is like a rental security deposit. If tenants pay the rent on time and take care of the property, they get most of the deposit back when the lease ends. Likewise, if defendants appear at trial and fulfill other obligations, like staying out of trouble with the law, they get most of the bond back when the case is over.

Bond amount varies, but it’s usually about $750 for a misdemeanor and $2,000 for most felonies. To many families, $2,000 might as well be $2 billion. That’s one reason the unsentenced proportion is so high. Many people simply don’t have the money.

So, a bail bond is usually available as well. A bail bond is like an insurance policy. If the house burns down, the fire insurance company covers the loss. If the defendant does not appear at trial, the bail bond company covers the financial loss. Most bonding companies charges about a 15 percent policy premium.

Frequently, bail bonds come with many, many strings attached. In addition to staying out of trouble with the police, most defendants must report to a bail bond officer and fulfill other conditions. A Minnesota criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with the bonding company and reduce these extra conditions.

Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers and Bail Reduction Hearings

Despite an attorney’s best efforts, bail is often either unavailable or unaffordable, at least initially. At the arraignment, which usually occurs about forty-eight hours after arrest, a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer can ask the judge to reduce bail. Some factors in this decision include:

  • Severity of the offense,
  • Defendant’s ability to pay,
  • Amount of evidence against the defendant,
  • Defendant’s contact with the community (e.g. family and/or job), and
  • Any threat to the community if the defendant is released.

These matters, and all criminal matters, usually settle out of court. For example, the prosecutor might agree to reduce bail if the defendant agrees to electronic monitoring.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Prompt jail release does not guarantee a successful result, but it does put the wind at your back. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Drugged Driving Charges and Criminal Lawyers in Brainerd, MN

In many parts of Minnesota, impairing drugs are easier to obtain than alcohol. Two neighboring states, Michigan and Illinois, have legalized recreational marijuana, including marijuana edibles. Prescription drug use is widespread, and behaviors like pill sharing and abuse are all too common. Furthermore, many of the drugs available at corner pharmacies, such as NyQuil and Sominex, could impair drivers and are therefore illegal in this context.

DUI convictions have significantThe state often relies on flimsy circumstantial proof in drugged driving cases. Our Brainerd, MN criminal lawyers know how to challenge this proof. direct and collateral consequences. Even for a first offense, defendants face extended court supervision and drivers’ license suspension, along with other penalties. Indirect consequences include sky-high auto insurance rates, adverse effects on family court parenting time disputes, and possible employment consequences.

Since the consequences are so severe and it’s so easy to fall into the drugged driving pit, aggressive representation from a criminal lawyer in Brainerd, MN is essential. By attacking the state’s evidence, which is usually circumstantial, an attorney can reduce or eliminate these aforementioned consequences.

What Does the Law Say?

The Gopher State’s drugged driving law is rather complex. Largely because there are so many drugs which could seriously impair drivers, there are basically two ways for the state to bring DUI-drug charges:

  • Under the Influence: Almost all DUI-drug prosecutions involve this part of the law. It’s illegal to drive under the influence of an intoxicating substance. That could be almost anything in your medicine cabinet, and many of the things in your kitchen pantry. However, the defendant must know that the substance is potentially impairing. That provision, along with the circumstantial nature of the proof, gives criminal lawyers in Brainerd, MN an opening.
  • Zero Tolerance: It’s also illegal to drive with even a trace amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II substance in one’s body. Most street drugs, like heroin and LSD, are Schedule I drugs. Most prescription drugs, like Vicodin and Oxycontin, are Schedule II drugs. Marijuana is also a Schedule I drug, but it’s specifically exempted from this part of the law. Peace officers rarely order urine or blood tests in drugged driving cases. That’s the only way to establish specific drug use beyond a reasonable doubt.

Minnesota also has a refusal-to-submit law. If officers demand a blood or urine sample and the defendant refuses to provide one, the defendant could be charged with a separate criminal offense. That’s on top of any administrative drivers’ license suspension.

Under Birchfield v. North Dakota, peace officers must obtain search warrants before they extract blood or urine samples. Officers rarely bother with such warrants, except on no-refusal weekends and other heightened enforcement periods.

How Do Brainerd, MN Criminal Lawyers Challenge Drugged Driving Evidence?

Circumstantial evidence of drug intoxication almost always means the three approved Field Sobriety Tests. Most FSTs are divided attention tests which measure physical dexterity and mental acuity. Scientists claim that intoxicated individuals cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. The three approved FSTs, and some ways to challenge them in court, are:

  • Heel to Toe Walk: Generally, officers force defendants to walk an imaginary line in the dark while wearing something other than athletic shoes. It’s almost impossible for anyone, whether they are intoxicated or not, to successfully complete this test under these conditions.
  • One-Leg Stand: It’s very difficult for anyone with any mobility impairment at all to lift one leg and stand as still as a statute for more than two or three seconds.
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The DUI eye test is the only FST that’s not a divided attention test. Many people have nystagmus, a condition also known as lazy eye. But they do not know they have it, since the symptoms are so mild. So, they will fail this test whether or not they are intoxicated.

Under the Fifth Amendment, defendants have a right to refuse to perform the FSTs. And, their refusal usually cannot be used against them in court.

Can I Expunge a Drugged Driving Conviction?

Partially. Misdemeanor DUI is usually expugnable. There is usually a two or four-year waiting period. And, the defendant must not catch any new charges during the waiting period. Even after expungement, which is really record sealing in Minnesota, the conviction still appears in judicial records and is still on the person’s driving record.

Expungement is not automatic. Some factors in the decision include the nature of the offense, amount of time that has passed, defendant’s rehabilitation efforts, the probation officer’s recommendation, and the defendant’s criminal history.

Rely on an Experienced Attorney

DUI-drug cases are almost as common as DUI-alcohol cases, and the law is very harsh. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal lawyer in Brainerd, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. The sooner you call, the sooner we start fighting for you.

A Family Law Attorney in Buffalo, MN Looks at Millennial Prenups

Since many Millenials are children of divorce, when they get married themselves, they are willing to think outside the box if it means keeping their unions intact. So, it’s little wonder that these couples are increasingly entering into premarital agreements before they tie the knot.

Prenuptial agreements are much more than divorce insurance. Frequently, they make marriages stronger. Money is one of the leading sources of marital friction. And, prenups remove financial matters from the equation before these issues have a chance to create tension.

Most agreements between spouses, including premarital agreements, are enforceable. However, Minnesota lawmakers have not adopted the Uniform Marital and Premarital Agreements Act. So, prenups are only enforceable in rather limited circumstances. Therefore, only an experienced family law attorney in Buffalo, MN should handle these matters, whether you are trying to make or break a premarital agreement.

Making Premarital Agreements

Money is not just one of the most problematic issues during a marriage. It’s also one of the most problematic areas during a divorce. And, if the unthinkable happens, most Millennials do not want to pay the steep emotional and financial costs associated with divorce.

Prenuptial agreements clearly distinguish marital property from nonmarital property. So, if the parties divorce, family law attorneys in Buffalo, MN need not spend vast amounts of time classifying property. That’s assuming the prenuptial agreement is enforceable, as set forth below.

Premarital contracts usually also include spousal support limitations. These provisions give people additional peace of mind. If Wife has substantially more money than Husband, Wife and her family both know that Husband is not marrying Wife for her money.

Emotional issues might be a consideration as well, especially if either spouse has been married before and the union involves a small business. Frequently, Minnesota’s antiquated intestacy laws do not keep up with modern families. Prenuptial agreements clarify inheritance and succession matters. To make these decisions even clearer and easier to enforce, mand family law attorneys in Buffalo, MN also draw up executory documents, such as wills and estate plans.

Only a few matters are off-limits in this area, such as child custody and child support. These matters must be in the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents.

Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorneys and Breaking Premarital Agreements

No contract is absolutely ironclad. There is usually a way to undo almost any kind of contract, and premarital agreements are no exception. Prenups are only enforceable in Minnesota if:

  • Recorded in Deed Records: Since they often affect real property, prenuptial agreements must be recorded in the deed records of Wright County, or wherever the prenup was signed. If the spouses move, the prenuptial agreement must move with them.
  • Voluntary: There is almost always some pressure to sign a premarital agreement. Sometimes, there is excessive pressure, such as a “sign or else” ultimatum. These things are usually not enough to invalidate a premarital contract. But sometimes, the pressure gets too great, and the pact is involuntary.
  • Full Disclosure: This bullet is related to the previous one. Agreements are involuntary if a spouse did not know what s/he was signing. The omission must be material to the issues in the contract. And, most judges also require challenging spouses to prove they could not have obtained the information elsewhere.
  • Unconscionable: A 60-40 division is uneven but probably not unconscionable. A division like “I get all the assets and you get all the debts” is clearly unconscionable. Additionally, the agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made. Stock is a good example. These certificates could be incredibly valuable one day and worthless pieces of paper the next day.
  • Separate Counsel Throughout: Each spouse must have an independent Buffalo, MN family law attorney throughout the entire process, and each spouse must have an equal opportunity to consult with counsel. Wife cannot spring the agreement on Husband at the least minute, even if Husband has a Buffalo, MN family law attorney.

Generally, the challenging party must prove the agreement was invalid by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of evidence in Minnesota.

Furthermore, most premarital agreements have severability provisions. If a judge invalidates one part, the remainder is still in force.

Contact a Diligent Lawyer

Premarital agreements are not just divorce insurance. In many cases, they are anti-divorce insurance. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Buffalo, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

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Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

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Phone: (320) 289-4761
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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

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Phone: (952) 260-9640
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