Ask a Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyer: How Much Will I Get for Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident Settlement?

After a car crash, the economic losses are normally staggering. Emergency care alone might cost $100,000 or even more. This figure does not include physical therapy and other costs. This figure also does not include other economic losses, such as property damage and lost wages.

Generally, car crash victims are eligible for noneconomic damages as well. Minnesota has a limited no-fault law. If the victim’s medical bills exceeded $4,000, additional compensation for things like pain and suffering is available. Many hospitals charge that much to walk in the door.

No amount of money can fully compensate for things like loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (companionship). But since money damages are the only available remedy, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers work hard to help victims get money for pain and suffering in a car accident settlement.

Determining a Fair Amount of Compensation

Most personal injury claims settle out of court. Brainerd, MN injury lawyers usually send demand letters to initiate settlement negotiations. These demand letters must include an amount for both economic and noneconomic losses.

The economic damage calculation is rather straightforward, but there are some curves. Property loss is a good example. Many times, the family car has an emotional value which exceeds its financial value. Victims deserve compensation for both kinds of losses.

Additionally, many victims return to work before they are 100 percent better. If they are self-employed, they are less productive. Alternatively, they might come in late or leave early. Lost wages compensation must account for these things.

Calculating noneconomic losses, however, is a different matter. To determine a fair amount, most Brainerd, MN injury lawyers use one of the following formulas:

  • Some lawyers use the days of missed work as a basis for pain and suffering. For example, if Ralph missed 100 days of work after a crash, including both emergency and followup treatment, and Ralph makes $200 per day, his pain and suffering is approximately $20,000.
  • Other lawyers multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four (usually three), largely depending on the factors listed below. If Jill’s medical bills and other economic losses were $10,000, her pain and suffering calculation might be $30,000.

These hypothetical figures are initial offers. To resolve the case, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers typically have a legal duty to negotiate in good faith. They must make sacrifices to complete a deal. The extent of these sacrifices varies greatly, depending on a number of items.

Brained, MN Injury Lawyers and Car Crash Evidence

The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a negligence case. So, the possibility of success increases if the victim/plaintiff has substantial evidence. As a result, the claim’s settlement value increases.

Evidence in a car crash claim often includes physical evidence, such as medical bills. Generally, these documents provide more than diagnosis, treatment, and financial data. They also include notes which describe the patient’s physical and emotional state on certain days. Brainerd, MN injury lawyers can normally introduce these records at trial.

Nonphysical evidence, such as witness testimony, is also admissible. Many witnesses can connect with jurors in ways that paper documents cannot.

Insurance Company Defenses

Strong, evidence-based claims help Brainerd, MN injury lawyers negotiate settlements from a position of strength. But the amount of evidence is not the only consideration in settlement negotiations.

Defenses, such as comparative fault, often come into play. This legal doctrine shifts blame from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. For example, in a freeway collision, one driver might have changed lanes without signaling and the other driver might have been speeding. In these cases, a Crow Wing County jury must divide fault on a percentage basis. Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate amount of damages.

Other insurance company defenses include sudden emergency, which often comes up in pedestrian accidents, and last clear chance, a frequent defense in rear-end or head-on crashes.

Much like strong evidence bolsters a victim/plaintiff’s claim, a strong defense supports the insurance company’s efforts to reduce or deny compensation.

Reach Out to an Aggressive Attorney

The amount for pain and suffering from a car accident settlement depends on many factors. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

How do Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers Get the Most Money from a Car Accident?

Every year, car crashes kill or seriously injure millions of Americans. Even seemingly simple matters, like intersection or freeway collisions, are often complex. For example, the driver who got the ticket is not always the driver that is responsible for damages. Legal doctrines like contributory negligence and sudden emergency often come into play here.

Furthermore, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is often not the only party that is responsible for damages. If the tortfeasor was a commercial operator, like an Uber driver, the company might be liable for damages, even if there was no paying passenger in the car at the time. Additionally, Minnesota has a broader-than-normal dram shop law. Commercial providers, like bars and restaurants, are often vicariously liable for alcohol-related crash damages.

Because of all these complexities, the process is key for Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers. Attorneys who pay attention to details, as well as the big picture, usually get the most money from a car accident.

Collect Evidence

There is usually a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages a jury awards. Insurance companies know this, so the same rule applies in pretrial settlement negotiations. Therefore, evidence is critical for Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers.

Often, the trifecta of medical bills, the police accident report, and the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony is sufficient. But in many cases, that’s not true.

The victim/plaintiff’s testimony is a good example. Something almost mystical happens when victims take the stand and tell their own stories in their own words. But such testimony is not always available. That’s obviously the case in most wrongful death claims. Additionally, many Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers do not want to expose victims to withering cross-examinations from insurance company lawyers.

So, additional evidence is often necessary. Such evidence can come from many sources, such as a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. These gadgets are basically like the black box flight data recorders on commercial jets. Exact capacity varies by make and model, but generally, EDRs measure and record information like:

  • Brake application,
  • Vehicle speed,
  • Engine RPM, and
  • Steering angle.

Numbers like these are critical in many collision claims. Additionally, unlike eyewitnesses, computers are never biased and never wrong, assuming the devices are working properly.

Apply the Proper Theory

Diligent evidence collection usually produces very good results. In fact, some Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers collect so much evidence that there is an embarrassment of riches. There is so much proof that jurors cannot sort it out.

Car crash evidence is basically like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. A Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer must put the pieces together and form a picture for the jury. In extremely complex cases, such as truck wrecks, many attorneys partner with accident reconstructionists during this phase.

The proper legal theory is a bit like the picture on a jigsaw puzzle box. The theory guides the assembly process. Some common theories in car crash cases include:

  • Ordinary Negligence: Basically, negligence is a lack of care. Drowsy driving and distracted driving are both good examples of negligence. If the tortfeasor’s conduct fell below the standard of care, the tortfeasor is liable for damages.
  • Negligence Per Se: In many cases, Minnesota law establishes the standard of care. Tortfeasors who violate a safety law, even something like speeding or making an unsafe lane change, might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
  • Defective Product: These claims do not involve negligence at all. Manufacturers are strictly liable if their defective products, such as tires, airbags, or ignition switches, cause injury. Substantial damages are often available in these situations. Frequently, manufacturers intentionally put people at risk to increase their own profits.

Damages in a car crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.

Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and Diligent Advocacy

Collecting evidence collection and applying theory is like doing homework. If students do their homework, they usually do well on their tests. However, they still need to concentrate on the tests and bring all their skills to bear if they want good grades. Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers must do the same thing.

In this context, the test usually comes at the negotiating table. Almost all personal injury claims settle out of court. So, an attorney must be a good negotiator. That means having a thorough knowledge of your own case, your client’s needs and preferences, and any insurance company defenses. Keeping these three things in mind ensures that an attorney negotiates from a position of strength.

A few cases go all the way to trial, where a Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Getting the most money from a car accident is usually a matter of planning your work and working your plan. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

Ask a Hutchinson, MN Auto Accident Lawyer: How Much Money Do You Get from a Car Accident Settlement?

Many car crashes cause extremely serious injuries. The medical bills alone in a severe injury case, such as a head injury, regularly exceed $100,000.

Despite what television commercials imply, insurance company representatives do not have a victim’s best interests in mind. Instead, the insurance company is primarily concerned with its own profits. That means collecting as many premiums as possible and paying as little compensation as possible.

A Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer, on the other hand, is committed to maximum compensation for victims. Generally, the settlement includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. The actual amount of a settlement varies significantly, usually depending on the factors listed below.

Legal Theory

In general, the legal basis of a car wreck case is a lack of ordinary care. This point is rather straightforward. However, the standard of care, as well as the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) neglect, or lack thereof, is very subjective. Some common theories in car crash cases include:

  • Duty of Care: This idea is based on the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) which Minnesota schoolchildren once memorized. In this context, this duty includes things like driving while sober and well-rested, as well as driving defensively.
  • Contributory Negligence: Many car crashes do not have singular causes. For example, the victim might have been speeding when the tortfeasor (negligent driver) made an illegal turn. In these situations, McLeod County jurors must divide fault between the two parties on a percentage basis.
  • Negligence Per Se: Sometimes, Minnesota law sets the standard of care. Examples include things like driving on the right side of the road and traveling under the speed limit. So, if tortfeasors violate such laws, they might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.

Vicarious liability often comes into play as well. Minnesota’s dram shop law is a good illustration. If commercial providers, like bars or grocery stores, sell alcohol illegally and that patron causes a car crash, the provider might be financially responsible for damages. Examples of an illegal sale include sales to underage patrons, after-hours transactions, and sales to obviously intoxicated persons.

Hutchinson, MN Auto Accident Lawyers and Evidence in Car Wreck Claims

The victim/plaintiff must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Since this rule is the lowest standard of proof in Minnesota, a little evidence goes a long way. However, there is often a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer presents and the amount of damages a McLeod County jury awards.

The Iron Triangle of medical bills, the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony, and the police accident report are often the only evidence in a car crash claim. But that’s not always true. For example, if the victim was killed, the victim/plaintiff’s testimony is obviously unavailable. Furthermore, since it contains only one side of the story, the police accident report might be incomplete and inaccurate.

Therefore, evidence might be a problem. Many times, a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder is the solution. Capability varies by make and model, but most of these gadgets measure and record things like:

  • Vehicle speed,
  • Steering angle,
  • Engine RPM, and
  • Brake application.

Items like these could be crucial to a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer. As a bonus, if the gadget was working properly, it’s almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to successfully challenge this evidence. Unlike eyewitnesses, computers are never biased and never mistaken.

To effectively use EDR evidence, a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer must overcome some obstacles. For example, Minnesota has very strict vehicle data privacy laws. Therefore, attorneys usually must obtain court orders before they can access and download EDR information.

Resolving the Case

The amount of a settlement, as well as the timing of a settlement, also depends on a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer’s ability to resolve the case. There are several qualities to look for in an attorney, such as:

  • Experience: Like other professionals, attorneys learn many things not from law school, but from the school of hard knocks. There is a close relationship between years of experience and overall ability. Your injury claim is much too important to trust to someone who requires on-the-job training.
  • Track Record: Experience only tells part of the story. Many Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyers spend years in the business and only try a handful of cases. Insurance companies are only scared of attorneys with substantial trial experience and successful track records.
  • Bedside Manner: Some lawyers are not bilingual. They speak Legalese fluently, but are not very proficient in English. Your Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer should relate complex legal problems in simple terms, so you can make the best possible decisions.

The bottom line is that if the legal theory is sound, the evidence is compelling, and the Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer is well qualified, the settlement should be on the best terms available under the circumstances.

Contact an Assertive Attorney

Car crash victims need and deserve substantial compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Do Hutchinson, MN Lawyers Handle Car Crash Defenses?

Every year, vehicle collisions injure about three million Americans. A few of these accidents are “fender benders” which do not cause serious injury. Minnesota’s no-fault insurance law applies to such incidents. As a rule of thumb, if your car was drivable after the collision, you probably did not sustain a serious injury under the law.

In most cases, however, the victim sustains a “serious” injury. That means a Hutchinson, MN lawyer may be able to obtain substantial compensation. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

While Hutchinson, MN lawyers are committed to maximum compensation for victims, insurance company lawyers do whatever they can to minimize compensation for victims. Frequently, these efforts involve one of the legal defenses discussed below.

Contributory Negligence

Comparative fault is probably the most common car crash defense, mostly because serious injury accidents rarely have only one cause. In a nutshell, contributory negligence shifts blame for the wreck from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. The possibilities are almost endless. Perhaps the victim was speeding and the tortfeasor made an illegal lane change, or perhaps the victim was using a cell phone and the tortfeasor was drunk.

Specific laws vary by state. Minnesota, like most other jurisdictions, is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent threshold. So, if the victim is no more than 49 percent responsible for the crash, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer can still win a proportionate share of damages. Nearby Missouri, however, is a pure comparative fault state. Theoretically, a victim could be 99 percent responsible for the crash, and the tortfeasor would still be liable for a proportionate share of damages.

Hutchinson, MN lawyers have essentially two chances to blunt the contributory negligence defense. First, the insurance company must convince the judge that the victim’s negligence contributed to the crash. If the victim was only traveling three or four mph over the limit, that excessive speed probably did not contribute to the crash in any meaningful way.

Second, the insurance company must convince jurors of the same thing. At this point, the percentage division comes into play. Based on the evidence, the jury must divide fault for the crash 50-50, 60-40, or whatever. The lower the victim’s share of fault, the more compensation the victim receives.

Lack of Evidence

At the other end of the frequency spectrum, this defense is quite rare. The burden of proof in civil court is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of proof in Minnesota law.

So, as long as a Hutchinson, MN lawyer is prepared, there should be sufficient evidence on all points. Authentication is sometimes an issue. For example, if a victim’s evidence includes medical bills, these statements must include affidavits and other authenticating evidence. If this evidence is not present or in the wrong form, a McLeod County judge might exclude it.

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and the Sudden Emergency Defense

The first two defenses are generally available in most vehicle collision cases. These last two defenses, however, are niche defenses which are only available in certain situations.

Insurance company lawyers often roll out the sudden emergency defense in pedestrian accident claims. Court documents in these cases often say something like since the victim “darted out into traffic” the tortfeasor could not avoid the wreck. This line of thought sets up the sudden emergency defense, which has two elements:

  • Reasonable reaction to
  • A sudden emergency.

This clip from 1995’s Tommy Boy illustrates both elements of the sudden emergency defense. The hood fly-up is a sudden emergency, because it is a completely unexpected development. The same thing goes for a lightning strike. But jaywalking pedestrians are more like stalled cars or large potholes. Drivers should anticipate these everyday hazards, so they are not “sudden emergencies” in this context.

Although he faced a sudden emergency, Tommy would not be able to use the defense in court. He did not react reasonably, by pulling over to the right. Instead, he drove recklessly and even crossed the centerline. But hey, that’s why they call it a comedy.

Last Clear Chance

Hutchinson, MN lawyers often deal with this defense in head-on and rear-end wrecks. To examine this defense, let’s stay with the Tommy Boy clip. Assume Tommy collided with that semi-truck after he crossed the centerline. If first responders arrived, they would almost certainly give Tommy a ticket.

But Tommy might not be legally responsible for damages, because of the last clear chance defense. If the truck driver had a reasonable chance to avoid the crash, perhaps by changing lanes, the truck driver might be legally responsible. Basically, even though Tommy drove recklessly, the truck driver still had a duty of care. S/he could not simply sit back, let the wreck happen, and blame Tommy.

The lesson here is that, even if first responders said you were at fault, always have a Hutchinson, MN lawyer evaluate your case. You may still be entitled to the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

If an attorney is not ready to handle car crash defenses, a promising claim could end in disappointment. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and the Five Types of Driving Impairment

Collectively, the five types of driving impairment cause about half the car crashes in Crow Wing County. Impairment-related collisions never happen because the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead, these tortfeasors deliberately engage in unsafe driving behavior. So, compensation in these cases is usually rather high.

A Brainerd, MN accident lawyer may be able to obtain money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. But these claims are quite complex. Minnesota has a partial no-fault insurance law. Furthermore, the law regarding driving impairment is rather intricate.

Medical Condition

Many Minnesota residents struggle with diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, and other conditions which could cause a sudden loss of consciousness. It is very dangerous for these people to drive. If they lose consciousness behind the wheel, the consequences could be tragic, especially if the incident occurs on a freeway or other high-speed, high-traffic roadway.

The DMY usually suspends drivers’ licenses for medical conditions, but the suspension is only temporary. Additionally, the DMV only takes such action if a doctor or another individual reports the condition.

Therefore, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers might use both negligence per se and ordinary negligence may apply in medical condition-related crashes. Negligence per se is the violation of a safety statute, such as driving with a suspended license. Ordinary negligence is a lack of reasonable care.

Distraction

Distracted driving is a bit different from the other forms of driving impairment. Tortfeasors make poor distracted driving decisions in the moments before a crash, instead of when they get behind the wheel. Scientifically, distracted driving includes any of the following behaviors:

  • Manual (taking one’s hand off the wheel),
  • Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road), and
  • Cognitive (taking one’s mind off driving).

Note that hand-held cell phones combine all three forms of distraction. Hands-free cell phones, which many pundits tout as a safe alternative, might be even worse. Hands-free devices are distracting. Users take their eyes off the road and their minds off driving. That cognitive distraction is especially bad. After drivers use a hands-free device, there is usually a latency effect. It may take up to twenty-seven seconds for these people to re-engage and concentrate on driving.

Minnesota has a limited hands-free law, so the negligence per se doctrine may apply in some device distraction cases. In other situations, including hands-free crashes, victim/plaintiffs must use circumstantial evidence to establish ordinary negligence. Such evidence includes web browsing records, erratic driving, and text message logs.

Other causes of distracted driving include eating while driving, drinking while driving, and talking to passengers while driving.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Alcohol

This substance causes about a third of the fatal crashes in Crow Wing County. Alcohol impairs both judgment and motor skills. Significantly, this impairment begins with the first drink.

Therefore, drivers could be impaired, but not legally intoxicated. In these situations, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must once again use circumstantial evidence to establish impairment. This evidence includes:

  • Erratic driving,
  • Odor of alcohol,
  • Bloodshot eyes, and
  • Tortfeasor’s point of departure (i.e. the tortfeasor just came from a place that sold alcohol).

Minnesota has a broad dram shop law. So, these commercial providers may be vicariously liable for damages. To establish third-party liability, the victim/plaintiff must prove that there was an illegal sale. It is illegal to sell alcohol to impaired customers, to underage patrons, and in a few other situations.

If the tortfeasor broke the DUI law, even if the tortfeasor beats the criminal charges, the negligence per se doctrine usually applies.

Fatigue

Drowsiness and alcohol have roughly the same effect on the brain. Fatigue impairs motor skills and also slows reflexes. In fact, driving after eighteen hours without sleep is like driving with a .05 BAC level.

Alcohol and fatigue have something else in common. There is no quick fix for either condition. Only time cures alcohol intoxication, and only sleep cures fatigue. Shortcuts, like drinking coffee and rolling down the window, make people feel more alert for a few seconds, but that’s normally it.

There is no Breathalyzer test for drowsiness. So, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers normally must establish ordinary negligence. Truck crashes are different. These commercial drivers must adhere to strict HOS (Hours of Service) rules regarding mandatory rest periods.

Drugs

Both criminal and civil laws are very broad on this point. Almost anything could have an impairing effect on drivers, such as:

  • Heroin, LSD, or other street drugs,
  • Oxycontin, Fentanyl, or other prescription painkillers, and
  • NyQuil, Sominex, and many other over-the-counter medicines.

Although there is no Breathalyzer test for drugs, the negligence per se doctrine sometimes applies in drugged driving cases. In fact, in many jurisdictions, police officers arrest almost as many drug-impaired drivers as alcohol-impaired drivers. The ordinary negligence rule also applies in many drugged driving crashes.

Contact an Aggressive Attorney

Impaired drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

How Do Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers Help Spine Injury Victims?

Freeway collisions, especially if they involve trucks or other large vehicles, often cause catastrophic injuries, such as spine injuries. Medical bills and vehicle replacement are usually the victim’s two immediate priorities.

Medical expenses are almost unbelievable high. In many cases, these costs may approach $5 million over the course of a lifetime. Even if a health insurance company covers these costs, which is doubtful, the copays, deductibles, and uncovered portion could financially wreck most families.

Vehicle replacement is usually nowhere near that expensive, but it does cost more than most families can afford. Moreover, the family car has an emotional value which many insurance companies do not fully appreciate. And, for interim vehicle replacement, many insurance companies only provide small, economy cars which are not well-suited for Crow Wing County families.

Brainerd, MN accident lawyers do more than advocate for victims in court. They also advocate for victims in the early stages of a spine injury claim. That advocacy often gives families the financial wherewithal, and peace of mind, they need at this time.

Medical Bills

Spine injuries are not just expensive. They are also difficult to diagnose and treat. A Brainerd, MN accident lawyer helps victims in all three of these areas.

Medical misdiagnosis is common in all cases, and especially in spine injury situations. Many doctors believe that trauma or shock from the accident causes numbness and other problems. So, they may not order a complete battery of tests. As a result, a spine injury may go undiagnosed and progressively get worse.

Treating spine injuries is difficult as well. Most doctors combine surgery with physical therapy. The same combination is not effective in all cases. Therefore, the doctor must have a great deal of expertise in this area. Otherwise, the physician may use the wrong approach and make the injury worse.

Brainerd, MN accident lawyers connect vehicle collision victims with vehicle collision physicians. These professionals know how to promptly diagnose serious medical issues, such as spine injuries. A quick diagnosis is often essential to recovery, and a vehicle collision physician is in a good position to handle treatment as well. These doctors know how a serious crash affects the body and the soul. So, they apply the proper remedies in the proper place at the proper time.

These physicians usually charge nothing upfront for their services, because Brainerd, MN accident lawyers send letters of protection to medical professionals. These letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved. As a bonus, an attorney can negotiate with the provider to lower the amount due.

Brained, MN Accident Lawyers and Property Damage

This same process takes place with regard to vehicle replacement and repair. So, victims do not have to accept the cheap vehicle that the insurance company provides. The letter of protection gives victims additional transportation options. As a result, victims often drive a comparable vehicle as soon as they are released from the hospital.

When it comes to final repair or replacement, many insurance companies only look at the numbers. They do not authorize vehicle replacement unless the car was a total loss (i.e. the cost of repair exceeds the car’s value). But some vehicles never run correctly again, even after they are repaired.

That’s why Brainerd, MN accident lawyers connect victims with accident repair body shops. These professionals offer honest assessments as to a vehicle’s future. If it’s possible to repair the vehicle within a reasonable time, that’s usually best for everyone. But if replacement is a better option, that’s the way to go, regardless of what the numbers may indicate.

Noneconomic Losses

When it comes to settlement, economic losses, like medical bills and vehicle replacement, are only part of the picture. Spine injury victims also deserve compensation for their noneconomic losses, such as:

  • Loss of consortium (contribution to household management and companionship),
  • Pain and suffering,
  • Loss of enjoyment in life, and
  • Emotional distress.

Based on the evidence in the case and some other factors, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer demands a fair amount which fully compensates the victim for all these losses. It’s very difficult, or even impossible, to put a price tag on emotional and physical suffering. But generally, money damages are the only remedy that a Crow Wing County court can award.

Contact an Aggressive Attorney

Spine injury victims have immediate and long term needs. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Third Party Liability

In catastrophic injury situations, such as spine injuries, the medical bills alone may exceed $1 million. Most families do not have the financial resources to cope with expenses like these. Furthermore, many health insurance companies refuse to pay injury-related costs, for liability reasons. Finally, many tortfeasors (negligent drivers) have less than $50,000 in personal injury coverage.

Attorneys can connect these victims with doctors, so they get the medical help they need when they need it. Additionally, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer can usually arrange for this treatment at no upfront cost. So, the aforementioned money worries temporarily fade into the background.

Legal help in catastrophic injury situations extended beyond temporarily free doctor visits. Brainerd, MN accident lawyers use vicarious liability theories to help ensure that these costs, and other expenses, do not come from the victim’s own pocket.

Establishing First Party Liability

Vicarious liability is irrelevant unless the driver was negligent. So, establishing first party liability is an essential component of a vicarious liability claim. There are basically three kinds of negligence in vehicle collision matters:

  • Behavioral, usually alcohol or drug impairment,
  • Operational, such as making an illegal turn, and
  • Environmental, such as traveling too fast under adverse conditions.

We all make mistakes like these from time to time, and we must all accept the consequences of the mistakes we make. Compensation for injuries is one of these consequences.

Alcohol Provider Liability

In recent years, some states have limited their dram shop laws, or done away with them entirely. According to some, holding commercial providers liable for alcohol-related crash damages diminishes personal responsibility.

But Minnesota lawmakers see the big picture. They understand that responsible alcohol sales can prevent many collisions. So, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers may still turn to a dram shop law. Minnesota Statute Section 340A.801 states that bars, grocery stores, restaurants, and other commercial providers are liable for subsequent car crash damages if they illegally sold alcohol to the tortfeasor. Illegal sales include:

  • Minor: Generally, strict liability applies in these situations. The old “s/he looked older” defense hardly ever holds up in court. Even if the tortfeasor presented a false ID, dram shop liability may attach.
  • Obviously Intoxicated: Regardless of the tortfeasor’s age, dram shop liability may attach if the tortfeasor was obviously intoxicated at the time of sale. Evidence on this point includes bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and unsteady balance.
  • Before/After Hours Sale: A few minutes on the clock may mean little to a store that is anxious to make a sale. But those few minutes may make a tremendous difference in terms of dram shop liability.
  • Unlicensed Sale: Authorities routinely suspend alcoholic beverage licenses for a wide range of misconduct. Yet many providers ignore these suspensions and continue doing business as usual. In other situations, a provider starts selling alcohol before the licensure paperwork is fully processed.

Dram shop liability may also extend to social hosts. These same laws apply to social hosts who serve minors. If these impaired minors cause car crashes, the host may be legally responsible for damages. If the tortfeasor was an adult, another theory, such as negligent undertaking, may apply.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Owner Liability

These same principles apply when owners loan their vehicles to children, roommates, friends, spouses, or anyone else. If the owner knew the driver was incompetent, and that driver causes a car crash, the owner may be liable for damages. Evidence of incompetency includes:

  • No drivers’ license,
  • Violating a restriction, such as no freeway driving,
  • Safety-suspended drivers’ license,
  • A poor driving record, and
  • Inexperience behind the wheel.

These bullets are in roughly descending order. Unlicensed drivers may be incompetent as a matter of law. On the other end of the spectrum, driver inexperience, by itself, rarely makes someone incompetent.

Commercial negligent entrustment cases, such as U-Haul moving trucks, work differently, because of the Graves Amendment. In these situations, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers typically must introduce additional evidence of negligence or other misconduct.

Employer Liability

Owners and alcohol providers are in a good position to prevent crashes, and so are employers. So, the respondeat superior doctrine is very broad. It typically applies if both these prongs are present:

  • Employee: Minnesota negligence law defines this key word very broadly. Anyone an employer controls is usually an employee in this context. That could include not only regular nine-to-five employees, but also independent contractors, owner-operators, and even unpaid church volunteers.
  • Scope of Employment: Similarly, any act which benefits the employer in any way is typically within the scope of employment. For example, in workers’ compensation cases, injuries sustained at company softball games are within the scope of employment. Healthy and happy workers benefit the employer.

In all vicarious liability claims, the injury must be foreseeable. Typically, a car crash is always a foreseeable result in employer liability situations, unless the employee did something like steal a car from the parking garage.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

The tortfeasor is often not the only party responsible for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Brainerd Injury Lawyers and Third Party Liability

In a serious injury car crash, the medical bills often exceed $100,000. Unfortunately, Minnesota has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. So, many individual tortfeasors (negligent drivers) in Crow Wing County do not have enough coverage to pay fair compensation in these situations.

Fortunately, the Gopher State also has very broad vicarious liability (third party liability) rules. These rules give victims in serious injury crashes an additional source of compensation. That’s good news, because although it is legally possible to file additional claims against individuals, these claims are complex. It’s much easier to obtain compensation in a single legal matter.

Depending on the facts, Brainerd injury lawyers have several legal options. Basically, if a third party was in a position to stop a crash and did not do so, that third party may be legally responsible for damages.

Owner Liability

Vehicle owners are in a very good position to prevent car crashes. They simply must hold onto their car keys. So, the negligent entrustment rule applies in both non-commercial matters (e.g. a teenager using a parent’s vehicle) and commercial matters (U-Haul trucks, Enterprise rental cars, and so on).

Generally, owners are legally responsible for car crash damages if they allow incompetent drivers to use their vehicles and these drivers cause car accidents. Evidence of incompetence includes:

  • No drivers’ license,
  • Safety-suspended drivers’ license,
  • A poor driving record, and
  • Violation of drivers’ license restriction, such as no nighttime driving.

Victim/plaintiffs must also establish knowledge. So, assume Father allows his teenage Daughter to use his car one weekend. Daughter has a valid license, but she has a very poor driving record which includes an at-fault collision. Over the weekend, she strikes another vehicle in an intersection.

If Father knew about Daughter’s poor driving record, he may be liable for damages. Moreover, a Brainerd injury lawyer must establish that Daughter’s poor driving record rendered her incompetent.

The same analysis may apply with regard to a safety-suspended license or a restriction violation. Father must know about the issue and Daughter must be incompetent. However, if Daughter had no drivers’ license, she was probably incompetent as a matter of law.

In commercial negligent entrustment claims, Brainerd injury lawyers must establish additional facts, because of the Graves Amendment. In 2005, lawmakers added this policy rider to a large transportation bill. It protects companies like U-Haul from negligent entrustment actions if the owner or agent was:

  • In the “Trade or Business” of Renting Vehicles: The Graves Amendment does not define “trade or business.” But in contract law, this phrase usually means the business is specialized. Most truck rental outlets are basically moving supply retailers which rent a few trucks on the side. Therefore, Graves Amendment immunity arguably does not apply.
  • Not Otherwise Negligent: It is the vehicle rental industry standard to verify the validity of a drivers’ license. If a retailer fails to do so, it is arguably negligent.

Brainerd injury lawyers must establish knowledge and all other essential facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Dram Shop Liability and Brainerd Injury Lawyers

Alcohol causes almost a third of the fatal car crashes in Crow Wing County. Under Minnesota law, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial alcohol providers may be vicariously liable for damages. Liability attaches if the provider illegally sold alcohol to the tortfeasor, and that alcohol substantially caused the crash. Minnesota’s dram shop law is one of the broadest ones in the country.

Sales to intoxicated persons constitute most of these illegal sales. Evidence of intoxication at the time of sale includes bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and unsteady balance. Other illegal transactions include underage sales, unlicensed transactions, and after-hours sales. Private providers, like party hosts, might be similarly liable for damages as well.

Employer Liability

Bus crashes, truck crashes, and other such wrecks usually involve the respondeat superior doctrine. Employers are legally responsible for the damages their negligent employees cause if:

  • Employee: Independent contractors, regular employees, owner-operators, and even unpaid volunteer drivers are all employees in this context. The employer controls all these individuals with regard to hours worked, route traveled, and passengers or cargo carried.
  • Scope of Employment: According to one recent court ruling, a man’s heart attack, which he suffered after an amorous encounter with a woman, was within the scope of employment because it occurred on a business trip. Minnesota law is not quite that broad, but it is close.

Other employer liability theories, which often apply in assault and other intentional tort claims, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.

Contact Assertive Attorneys

The tortfeasor may not be the only person who may be liable for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Can Accident Lawyers in Brainerd, MN Hold Third Parties Responsible for Car Crash Damages?

Third-party liability, which is also called vicarious liability, is very important in Minnesota. The Gopher State has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. Many drivers have less than $50,000 in medical expense coverage. In catastrophic injury situations, like serious burns and spine injuries, the medical bills alone could be twenty times that high.

Furthermore, insurance companies often look for legal loopholes to deny coverage. For example, if an Uber or Lyft driver causes a crash, the insurance company will almost certainly deny coverage, unless the driver had a commercial use policy or rider.

So, in many cases, third-party liability could be the difference between fair compensation and settling for less. Therefore, accident lawyers in Brainerd, MN often count on vicarious liability to provide victim/plaintiffs with an additional source of recovery.

Alcohol Provider Liability

Alcohol causes about a third of the fatal crashes in Crow Wing County. So, the injuries in these claims often well exceed the aforementioned insurance minimums. Fortunately for victims, Section 340A.801 of the Minnesota Statutes is one of the broadest dram shop laws in the country.

Restaurants, bars, grocery stores, convenience stores, and other commercial alcohol providers are liable for car crash damages if they sell alcohol illegally to a customer who later causes a car crash. Some examples of illegal sales include:

  • After or Before Hours: If a customer wants to buy alcohol a few minutes early or a few minutes late, many establishments allow the transaction. But one minute could be the difference between a legal and illegal sale.
  • Liquor License Issues: Many establishments continue selling alcohol even if their license is suspended or expired. Additionally, many establishments jump the gun, and they sell alcohol before their licenses take effect.
  • Underage: Even if customers present fake IDs, like about their age, or “look older,” the sale is illegal if the customer is under 21.
  • Intoxicated: Evidence of intoxication at the time of sale includes bloodshot eyes, purchase history (e.g. the customer has already had three rounds), slurred speech, and unsteady balance.

Additionally, accident lawyers in Brainerd, MN must establish foreseeability. Generally, if the customer drove a vehicle to the establishment, a subsequent wreck was foreseeable.

Accident Lawyers in Brainerd, MN and Employer Liability

Respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) usually applies in truck driver, taxi driver, bus driver, Uber driver, and other commercial operator accidents. This legal rule has two basic prongs:

  • Employee: Although they do not receive regular paychecks, independent contractors, owner-operators, and even many unpaid volunteers are usually “employees” in this context. Employers control all these people in terms of things like hours worked, and that control is sufficient to establish an employer-employee relationship.
  • Scope of Employment: In a similar vein, any act which benefits the employer in any way is typically within the scope of employment. For example, in workers’ compensation cases, an injury at an employee softball game is within the scope of employment. The free advertising benefits the employer.

The foreseeability rule also applies in respondeat superior matters. Generally, a car crash is always a foreseeable consequence, unless the employee broke into the parking garage and took a vehicle without permission.

Other employer liability theories, which often apply in sexual assault and other intentional tort claims, include negligent supervision and negligent hiring. Negligent supervision is the failure to properly watch employees, and negligent hiring is hiring legally incompetent workers.

Owner Liability

According to the negligent entrustment rule, owners are liable for damages if they allow incompetent drivers to use their vehicles, and these drivers cause car crashes. Negligent entrustment comes up a lot in teen driver cases. It arises in other circumstances as well, such as one roommate borrowing another roommate’s car to make a beer run. Evidence of incompetency includes:

  • No drivers’ license,
  • Safety suspended license,
  • Driving in violation of a license restriction (e.g. without required eyeglasses), and
  • A poor driving record.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car and other commercial negligent entrustment claims work a bit differently. The Graves Amendment requires accident lawyers in Brainerd, MN to prove some additional facts.

Rely on a Dedicated Lawyer

Third-party liability theories give victim/plaintiffs an additional source of recovery. For a free consultation with an experienced accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.

How Do Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers Respond to Car Crash Defenses?

Every year, car crashes kill or seriously injure millions of Americans. Driver impairment, such as alcohol use or excessive fatigue, causes about half these wrecks. Operational errors, like speeding or making an illegal lane change, cause most of the rest. Lightning strikes and other true “accidents” only cause a handful of these incidents.

All vehicle collisions usually trigger significant medical bills and missed work. Additionally, victims must deal with pain and suffering from their injuries, in addition to emotional distress and other intangible losses.

To obtain compensation for these injuries, a Buffalo, MN injury lawyer must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That negligence could be a lack of ordinary care, like driving while drowsy, or a violation of a statute, like driving while intoxicated.

On the other side, insurance companies make money by collecting premiums, and they lose money by paying claims. So, their lawyers often use legal loopholes to reduce or deny compensation. Some of the more common ones are discussed below.

Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers and Contributory Negligence

Comparative fault is probably the most common insurance company defense in Wright County vehicle collision claims. Many times, the foundation is already in place. For example, Ted Tortfeasor may change lanes without signaling and collide with Vince Victim, who is speeding. Even if emergency responders only give a ticket to Ted, liability is still uncertain. The insurance company could claim that Vince’s excessive speed, as opposed to Ted’s dangerous lane change, substantially caused the crash.

A Buffalo, MN injury lawyer basically has two opportunities to respond to this defense. First, a lawyer can argue that the defense is not legally available. Truthfully, however, most Wright County judges side with insurance company lawyers in these situations. Judges generally do not like to take an issue out of the jury’s hands.

So, a Buffalo, MN injury lawyer must convince jurors that the wreck was substantially Ted’s fault. Perhaps Vince was only traveling a few miles per hour over the speed limit, or perhaps Ted was zipping between lanes. The jury must consider all these facts and arguments, then assign blame on a percentage basis between Ted and Vince.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if Vince was 49 percent responsible for the crash, a Buffalo, MN injury lawyer could secure a proportional share of damages for Vince.

Sudden Emergency

So, contributory negligence generally only reduces the amount of damages the victim receives. Sudden emergency, if it applies, completely eliminates damages.

This scene from 1995’s Tommy Boy illustrates both prongs of the sudden emergency defense, which are:

  • Sudden emergency, and
  • Reasonable reaction.

The hood fly-up is almost certainly a sudden emergency, because it is a completely unexpected situation. For the same reason, a tire blowout probably a sudden emergency as well. In contrast, events like stalled cars and construction zones are not sudden emergencies. These things are not completely unexpected situations, so drivers should be ready to avoid them.

Nevertheless, in Tommy’s case, the defense would probably not apply, even though the hood fly-up is a sudden emergency. Instead of reasonably reacting by pulling over to the right, Tommy drove recklessly. He even crossed the centerline. Due to this reaction, if he struck another vehicle after the hood fly-up, he would probably be liable for damages.

Insurance companies often use the sudden emergency defense in pedestrian injury claims. However, a jaywalking pedestrian is typically not a “sudden emergency.” Most drivers see jaywalking pedestrians almost every time they leave the house.

Last Clear Chance

Did you notice how the other vehicles in the Tommy Boy clip steered out of the way when Tommy drove recklessly? That reaction introduces the third common insurance company defense in car wreck cases.

Buffalo, MN injury lawyers often deal with the last clear chance defense in head-on and rear-end collisions. If the victim had a reasonable chance to avoid the crash, but did not do so, the victim is legally responsible for the wreck.

In other words, those other vehicles had a legal duty to get out of Tommy’s way if they could. Drivers simply cannot sit back and let collisions happen.

Significantly, the victim must have the last clear chance and not any possible chance. Sometimes, environmental or traffic conditions make it impossible to safely make emergency maneuvers, like steering out of the way of a crazy driver. That’s especially true if the victim was riding a two-wheel motorcycle, as these vehicles are hard to control.

Contact an Aggressive Attorney

Despite what commercial jingles imply, insurance companies are never “on your side” in vehicle collision cases. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

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Buffalo Lawyers

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Buffalo, MN 55313

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Brainerd, MN 56401

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Minnetonka, MN 55305

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