The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
A Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Talks About Your Claim for Damages in a Motorcycle Crash Case
March 5, 2020
The number of fatal motorcycle wrecks has increased significantly since 2015. Even if they wear crash helmets, motorcycle riders risk serious injury every time they go out. The force of a collision usually throws riders off their bikes. As a result, they suffer serious and often fatal injuries like internal wounds and head injuries.
These victims usually require immediate medical attention. After they recover, they must usually endure months of painful and expensive physical therapy. An attorney can make all the necessary arrangements in this area. Lawyers also take care of vehicle replacement and other situations.
Collecting evidence and facilitating medical care are just two jobs for a Hutchinson, MN lawyer. Perhaps more importantly, an attorney must prepare the victim’s legal case for damages. These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Essentially, a negligence claim holds tortfeasors (negligent drivers) responsible for the mistakes they make. If I accidentally forget my wife’s birthday, I must pay damages. Likewise, if I accidentally strike a motorcyclist, I must pay damages.
Most non-commercial operators have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. Some commercial drivers have a higher duty of care. They must take additional precautions against accidents, such as not driving in heavy rain.
Drowsy driving is a good example of an ordinary negligence claim. Although fatigued driving is not against the law, it is very dangerous. Driving after eighteen consecutive sleepless hours is like driving with a .05 BAC. That’s a dangerous impairment level. Evidence of drowsy driving includes:
Erratic Driving: Many sleepy drivers are unable to maintain a single lane or even stay on their side of the road. Other fatigued operators drive well below the speed limit.
Time of Day or Night: Most people are naturally drowsy early in the morning and late at night. It does not matter how much rest they had the night before. For example, teen drowsy driver crashes are significantly higher if classes begin before 7:30.
Medical Condition: People with sleep apnea get little, if any, deep sleep. Instead, they basically nap all night. Other medical conditions could affect sleep as well.
In an ordinary negligence claim, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer must prove that the tortfeasor breached the duty of care, and that breach substantially caused injury.
Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and Negligence Per Se
These cases work a bit differently. Sometimes, the law establishes the standard of care. If that’s the case, victim/plaintiffs must only prove causation. Some examples include:
Making an illegal turn,
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and
Sometimes, ordinary negligence and negligence per se overlap. For example, Minnesota has a hands-free law. Drivers may not hold cell phones or other devices while they are behind the wheel. But the law has a number of exceptions. Additionally, the law does not apply to all forms of device distraction, such as using a hands-free phone while driving. In these situations, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer must pursue an ordinary negligence claim.
Some Insurance Company Defenses
Preparing a case in chief is important, but it is not the only requirement for fair compensation in a motorcycle crash claim. Hutchinson, MN lawyers must also be prepared for some common insurance company defenses, such as:
Contributory Negligence: This legal loophole shifts responsibility for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, the vehicle operator might have been talking on a cell phone and the motorcyclist might have been speeding. Insurance company lawyers must convince the judge the defense applies, and then they must convince jurors of the same thing.
Assumption of the Risk: In this context, this defense usually involves the failure to wear a motorcycle helmet. Minnesota has a universal helmet law. Nevertheless, motorcycle helmet non-use is only admissible in a civil proceeding for limited purposes.
Last Clear Chance: This defense often comes up in left-turn motorcycle crash claims. If the tortfeasor turned left in front of the victim, the insurance company argues that the motorcycle rider had the last clear chance to avoid the crash. This defense is very difficult to prove in court.
Sometimes, these defenses completely immunize the tortfeasor. Other times, they only reduce the amount of compensation the victim receives.
Reach Out to a Diligent Attorney
Motorcycle crash victims might be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several area offices.