What to Do After a Car Crash in Buffalo, MN

Although today’s cars are much safer than the ones which prowled Wright County roads two decades ago, vehicle collisions still kill or seriously injure millions of Americans every year. Car crash survivors would attest that few things turn life upside-down more quickly than a car accident. Unfortunately, victims may not know what to do after a car crash in Buffalo. In the heat of the moment, victims may do things that might hurt their claims later. They may also fail to do some important things to protect their rights.

No attorney can obtain fair compensation without a partner, and that partner is the victim. In the minutes and hours immediately following a car crash, victims can do a lot to help, or hurt, their causes. Regardless of how the items on this list play out, fair compensation is still a possibility. But unless you observe these tips, your Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer must play from behind.

DO Go to the Doctor in Buffalo, MN

If there’s one important thing to impart about what to do after a car crash, it is to go to the doctor. Many car crash victims do not “feel” injured. Adrenaline is a natural and fast-acting painkiller. Furthermore, the brain often conceals its own injuries. But there is trouble brewing.

Whiplash is a good example. In vehicle collisions, victims’ heads move violently forward and backward, like the cracking of a whip. This sudden motion affects the muscles and nerves in the neck. Because of adrenaline and the concealed-injury effect, many whiplash victims feel nothing more than soreness. However, if the neck muscles and nerves are damaged, pain soon intensifies and radiates to the hands. If not properly diagnosed and treated, whiplash can eventually cause paralysis.

So, it’s always important to go to the doctor after a crash, but not just any doctor. A Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer can connect victims with a car crash injury physician. These professionals know how to diagnose whiplash and other soft tissue injuries which do not show up on X-rays. Moreover, these doctors know how to treat whiplash. Soft tissue injuries heal much differently from other physical injuries, like broken bones.

Prompt medical attention is also important for legal reasons. If victims delay treatment, even if they have a good reason for doing so, insurance company lawyers often later argue that the victim’s injuries must not have been very severe. That argument could significantly reduce the noneconomic damages portion of a car crash settlement.

The bottom line is that seeing a doctor might be the most important thing to do after a car wreck. Victims usually need not worry about medical bills at this point. A Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer can usually connect victims with top physicians who charge nothing upfront.

DON’T Fake Your Injuries in Buffalo, MN

Many victims do not go to the doctor, so their hidden injuries get worse. A few victims do the opposite. They exaggerate their injuries, erroneously believing that such overstatements help their cases. But that’s simply not true. Faking an injury is never what to do after a car crash.

In social circles, this approach may work for a while, but it eventually backfires. Some people may remember that Ted Kennedy wore a neck brace to Mary Jo Kopechne’s funeral in 1969, even though the Massachusetts senator was clearly not hurt very badly.

In court, this approach could hurt even more. Credibility is a very fragile thing. If insurance company lawyers can find any inconsistencies in the victim’s story, they will exploit it to the max and destroy the victim’s credibility before the jury. That makes it much harder for a Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer to obtain fair compensation.

However, don’t go to the other extreme. Do not sugar-coat your injuries, especially to your doctor or attorney. The same thing applies if you testify in court. Judges and jurors understand that people feel pain differently.

DON’T Say “I’m Sorry”

This tip is another example of the difference between social circles and legal cases, especially in the car crash context. We often apologize for things that are not our fault. It’s an expression of sympathy. If my wife had a bad day at work, I often say “I’m sorry,” even though I had nothing to do with her job-related misfortune. At least, I generally had nothing to do with her bad day.

But things are different in court. An apology is a statement against interest and could also be construed as an admission of liability. Therefore, the apology is both admissible in court and extremely damaging to the victim/plaintiff’s case.

On a related note, use caution when you speak to emergency responders about the accident. They could interpret your words incorrectly. If those interpretations make it into the official report, they could be admissible evidence in court. Furthermore, if emergency responders believe you are trying to set up a large recovery, perhaps by complaining loudly about being hurt, they could take the other driver’s side.

So, instead of saying “I’m sorry,” say something like “I’m sorry this happened to you” or “What can I do to help you?” Even better, do not say anything at all. The other driver does not want or need your sympathy.

DON’T Talk to the Other Insurance Company

On the subject of not saying anything, do not say anything to the other insurance company either. When we say things in the stress of the moment, we often say things we do not mean. In social circles, we can take these things back and apologize. But the insurance company carefully records every word victims say, and there are no second chances.

Additionally, insurance company adjusters know how to extract damaging information from victims without them knowing it.

In most cases, you have no legal obligation to say anything to the other driver’s insurance company. So, let your Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer handle this call. The adjusters can wait a couple of days to hear your side of the story. Chances are, they will ignore it anyway.

After an accident, most people have a duty to provide prompt oral notification to their own insurance companies. The other driver’s insurance company normally has access to these conversations. So, be careful what you say. For this reason, most people keep the initial notification very brief. Then, they supplement the report later, after the shock from the accident has worn off and they are thinking more clearly.

DO Collect Evidence from the Scene of Your Collison

Emergency responders usually arrive at crash scenes very quickly. Their immediate priorities include securing the scene and tending to injured victims. Collecting evidence for a future negligence claim is not even on their radar. In fact, many emergency responders view such matters as civil disputes between insurance companies that do not involve law enforcement.

The bottom line is that you cannot rely on police officers or other first responders to gather evidence for you. That’s not their job.

Victim/plaintiffs must establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. So, collecting evidence is important. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses and take lots of pictures. That includes pictures of the accident scene and the damaged vehicles. Take note of any security or red-light cameras which may have caught part of the crash.

If you are unable to do these things for any reason, just call a Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will assume these duties.

DO File a Voluntary Report in Buffalo, MN

Voluntary accident rules vary in different locations. Some law enforcement agencies require people to file reports in certain claims. Pretty much all agencies at least give people the option to file their own reports. So, most people can file voluntary reports, and all car crash victims should do so if possible.

A voluntary report is a useful tool later in the case. Most victims must give depositions or testify in court several months after the incident. Memories fade over time. Perhaps more importantly, the ability to vividly convey what happened fades as well. Therefore, your testimony might not be nearly as compelling, unless you have a written document to jog your memory.

As mentioned above, the brain is a very complex organ. Most people never forget anything. They just cannot access old memories without some outside assistance. The official report might not be very helpful. Many reports only contain a brief narrative section. Furthermore, especially if the victim did not give a statement at the time, that narrative is often one-sided.

Speaking of the official report, a voluntary report is your chance to challenge the official report’s findings. A Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer can help you write an effective personal report.

Finally, there are some emotional reasons. Expressing your feelings in writing often helps bring some closure to the incident. Just like some people feel better after a good cry, some people feel better after they put their feelings down on paper. 

DON’T Say Too Much on Social Media

Expressing your feelings, including your frustrations, in an official report is much better than expressing them on Twitter or Facebook. These platforms encourage unfiltered responses. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. But unfiltered responses often cause considerable trouble, especially in a court case.

Many people hit “send” without fully thinking things through and then delete the post. From a legal perspective, that’s even worse than leaving it out there. The post still exists somewhere. Insurance companies have the resources, and the patience, to hire forensic analysts who have no problem pulling up deleted posts. To make matters worse, jurors often believe that people who delete unfavorable posts are tampering with evidence.

However, there is no reason to stay off social media altogether. Faraway friends and family will want to know you were in an accident. They also want to know your general medical status. Such generic posts are okay, as long as they contain no reference to fault or blame. Furthermore, the tone should be detached. Don’t add emojis or anything like that.

The insurance company always pulls up your social media accounts during discovery. Your Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer does the same thing. These efforts often strike gold. Most insurance companies hire insurance defense lawyers instead of personal injury lawyers. Insurance defense attorneys often focus on the legal aspects of a case and ignore the human element. That failure could be critical in court.

Reach Out to an Experienced Buffalo, MN Auto Accident Lawyer

A professional Buffalo MN auto accident lawyer have the resources and determination to obtain fair compensation in these cases. Additionally, a lawyer gives victims additional peace of mind. Since they know a Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer is working hard for them, they just concentrate on getting better. If you, or a loved one, were injured in a vehicle collision, contact Carlson & Jones, PA. Home and hospital visits are available.

 

Originally published on June 6, 2019. Updated May 03, 2021.


Can you Sue a Personal Trainer for Injury in Brainerd, MN?

Accidents and injuries that occur due to the negligence of another individual can lead to legal repercussions. This includes injuries arising from the negligence of your personal trainer as well. Your trainer owes you a duty of care, i.e. they need to perform professionally and protect your injuries.

However, as experienced Personal Injury lawyers in Brainerd, MN, we want to inform you that not all personal injuries are the result of negligence. Hence, you will be able to sue your personal trainer under specific circumstances only.

Let’s understand this step by step.

I. Common Injuries Filed against Personal Trainers

While you can suffer many types of injuries due to your personal trainer’s negligence, some injures are more commonly sustained than others. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Strained muscles
  • Sprained muscles
  • Muscle tears
  • Broken bones/fractures
  • Tendonitis
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Never damage
  • Death (from heart attack or other conditions)

II. Examples of Personal Trainer Negligence

  • Let’s take a look at the typical examples of personal trainer negligence. Negligence can be said to have occurred if the personal trainer:
  • Ignored your pre-existing injuries or medical conditions when developing your fitness regimen.
  • Made you exercise for a prolonged period of time.
  • Suggested that you lift more weight than you could physically handle.
  • Did not supervise you properly when you were doing a particular type of exercise or using certain gym equipment.
  • Advised you to perform the wrong types of exercises.
  • Failed to provide remedial guidance when you used an improper procedure on an exercise machine.
  • Did not correct you when you performed an aerobic exercise incorrectly.
  • Recommended certain health supplements that reacted adversely with the supplements or medication you were already taking.

You may be able to file a lawsuit against your personal trainer in any of the above cases. Additionally, depending on the exact circumstances, you might be eligible to receive compensation for covering your medical bills and other related expenses. Make sure to consult a Personal Injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN to get a proper analysis of your case.

III. Compensatory Damages

As mentioned, you can recover compensatory damages to cover all the expenses and losses connected to your injuries. These can include:

  • Medical bills
  • Anticipated medical expenses
  • Loss of income/wages
  • Loss of earning capacity in the future
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of consortium

IV. Proving Negligence in Brainerd, MN

Let us now take a look at the elements of negligence in a personal injury claim and see how they apply to a personal trainer.

a.Duty: You need to prove that your personal trainer owed you a duty of care and that this duty was breached. Proving duty of care will legally establish a relationship between you and your personal trainer that creates an obligation in the trainer to maintain certain standards of care.

b.Breach: Breaching the duty of care results in injuries. It also creates liability for the trainer. If your trainer failed to exercise reasonable care with you in any way, and you suffered an injury due to that, it is clear that the trainer had been negligent.

c. Causation: You also need to show cause, where the trainer must be the actual cause of your injury. Proving causation in the context of physical exercise can be difficult. If your trainer rekindled an old ache/soreness that you had never mentioned to them about, proving causation will be even more challenging.

d. Damages: To prove negligence, you need to prove that you suffered an injury, and that it is compensable. If your trainer breached the duty of care he owed you, but you did not suffer any kind of injury or harm, then you cannot file a lawsuit. If, on the other hand, you were injured and incurred medical expenses or lost employment due to it, you can claim compensation.

V. The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Brainerd, MN

The statute of limitations refers to “the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated.” Under Minnesota law, the statute of limitations in a negligence case is usually two years. This deadline applies to cases involving the liability principle of negligence and intentional torts.

This means that if another individual’s reckless or intentional act has resulted in your injury, and you want to bring in a legal claim against them, you have two years (from the date of the accident) to file the paperwork in court.

In such cases, it is best to connect with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you contact an attorney, the quicker they can start working on your case and procure crucial evidence before it is lost or destroyed.

Conclusion

Depending on the specific facts of your case, you may be able to sue your personal trainer if you suffered an injury due to their negligence. Hopefully, the above information will help you understand the factors that go into making a legal claim. Working with a Personal Injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN will help you better understand the legal elements and process of filing your case. Remember, only a good lawyer can help you make the right legal decisions.

Get Legal Guidance from an Astute Personal Injury Lawyer in Brainerd, MN

Sustaining personal injuries due to the negligence of your personal trainer can mean physical and emotional suffering, not to mention your fitness goals will remain unattained too. Speak to our well-practiced Personal Injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN to see if you have a claim. Call us at (855) 976-2444 to schedule a free consultation. You can also fill out our online contact form with your queries. We will get back to you at the earliest.

 

How Much Should I Ask For in a Personal Injury Settlement in Brainerd, MN?

The average personal injury settlement varies significantly, so it is difficult to know what to ask for. The average dog bite settlement in Minnesota is $38, 302. But a nip which barely breaks the skin is most likely not worth $38,000. On the other end of the scale, if the dog bite was fatal, $38,000 is probably insufficient.

Most people have some experience in this area. As a buyer or seller or both, they have negotiated the price of a used house or guitar or laptop. These haggles usually account for the item’s economic value and the prevailing market conditions (i.e. how much are people willing to pay for that item in that area).

When a Brainerd injury attorney ascertains the value of a personal injury case, the process is a bit different. Yes, economic and market factors come into play. But there are some other things to consider as well. Additionally, in most cases, the other side also has an attorney who is a very good negotiator. So, these talks often take some time.

Calculating Economic Losses

Accident victims are usually entitled to compensation for economic and noneconomic losses. Economic loss calculation is generally straightforward. Most Brainerd injury attorneys look at the police accident report and the medical records.

The incident report usually details the severity of the accident. As mentioned, there is a big difference between a nip and a bite which causes permanent injuries. There is also a big difference between a fender-bender car crash which only causes property damages and a fatal, high-speed collision.

To prepare incident reports, most emergency responders examine the scene and interview witnesses. So, this report is often quite accurate.

But that’s not always true, especially in incidents like vehicle-on-pedestrian accidents. Typically, the victim either does not survive this accident or is too seriously injured to give a statement. As a result, the police accident report only contains one side of the story. And, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) usually sugarcoats the incident.

Therefore, in these cases, a Brainerd injury attorney often must dig deeper. Frequently, attorneys partner with accident reconstruction engineers or other such professionals in these situations.

Medical records are occasionally incomplete as well. But for the most part, these records accurately track things like the patient’s medical condition, treatment, prognosis, and cost.

Health care is one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the country. As a result, there is a lot of bureaucratic red tape, especially from various privacy laws. So, these records are not always available to the general public. A good Brainerd injury attorney knows how to cut through this red tape and quickly obtain these records. The faster these documents reach a lawyer’s office, the more time an attorney has to evaluate them.

Brainerd Injury Attorneys and Calculating Non Economic Losses

Economic loss calculation is basically a science, and noneconomic loss calculation is basically an art. Non Economic losses include intangible damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (companionship).

Most lawyers use a multiplier to calculate noneconomic losses. They multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case, as outlined above, and some intangible factors, which are discussed below.

These preliminary calculations are a starting point for settlement negotiations. If an attorney demands $100,000, the insurance company usually counters with a much lower offer. If these two figures are not too far apart, an early negotiated settlement is usually possible. But frequently, the insurance company responds with a low-ball offer or denies liability altogether. So, most cases do not settle quickly.

Fine-Tuning the Amount

Before they negotiate a price for something like a guitar, most people do some research and determine what amount a used guitar will probably fetch at that time. Brainerd injury attorneys do basically the same thing.

Venue is a good example. Some counties have rather conservative residents who often gravitate toward insurance companies. Other countries have rather liberal residents who often side with accident victims. In some cases, these differences are almost inconsequential, In other cases, these differences could mean thousands of extra dollars.

Punitive damages sometimes come into play as well. Juries can award these additional damages if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk. Punitive damages are especially common in medical malpractice and defective product claims. In other words, this final element goes back to the facts of the case, which were examined above.

Conclusion

Personal injury settlements vary from case to case. Depending on the case facts and circumstances surrounding your injury, a Brainerd personal injury attorney will be able to help you determine how much your case is worth. A good attorney will take into consideration the economic, the non-economic, and other damages you have incurred as a result of the injury when arriving at a fair amount. They will also protect your rights through the course of the case proceedings, and fight to ensure that you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Reach Out to a Thorough Personal Injury Lawyer in Brainerd

It can be incredibly frustrating when you or a loved one has to suffer personal injuries due to the fault or negligence of another. Your physical and mental health as well as finances can take a turn for the worse. You can be sure that the insurance companies will do whatever they can to keep you from getting the financial compensation you deserve. As you can see, the personal injury claims settlement process is multifaceted and complex. We’re here to help. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. at (855) 976-2444. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Motorcycle Crash Claims and Hutchinson, MN Auto Accident Lawyers

The vehicle occupant fatality rate has declined since the 1990s, mostly because today’s cars are much safer than they were before. But the motorcycle crash fatality rate has remained largely unchanged. Unlike their vehicle occupant counterparts, motorcyclists are almost completely exposed to danger in a crash. As a result, the death rate for motorcycle riders is almost thirty times higher than the death rate for four-wheel vehicle occupants.

Because of this high death rate and the severity of the victim’s injuries, a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer might be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money 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 situations.

What Causes Motorcycle Crashes?

Driver error causes most of the motorcycle crashes in McLeod County. Generally, that error falls into one of three categories. The nature of the driver error usually affects the amount of damages available.

Behavioral negligence includes things like alcohol or drug use and driver fatigue. Compensation is usually highest in these cases. Arguably, these impaired drivers know that they should not get behind the wheel. Nevertheless, they do so anyway, so they intentionally disregard the safety of other people on the road.

These claims are also very difficult for insurance companies to defend in court. People do not “accidentally” drive drunk. Additionally, even if a legal loophole is available, like contributory negligence, many jurors hesitate to cut drunk or fatigued drivers very much slack.

Especially during certain times of year, environmental negligence is a serious problem in Minnesota. The weather often changes quickly, and many drivers do not adjust to the new conditions, even though the duty of reasonable care requires them to be flexible.

Rain is a good example. When visibility is limited and streets are wet, drivers should slow down. But many drivers fail to do so.

Rain also brings up a point about motorcycle visibility. Many people are not looking out for motorcycles, especially during semi-inclement weather. Most riders who have gone down probably heard the tortfeasor (negligent driver) say something like “You came out of nowhere and I didn’t see you.” These drivers probably were not maintaining a proper lookout, which is part of the duty of reasonable care.

Minimal damages are usually available in operational negligence claims. These instances include things like speeding and changing lanes without signaling. Some jurors think these things are accidents (wrong place at the wrong time) as opposed to negligence (a lack of care). The good news is that these claims are rather easy for Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyers to prove in court. That’s especially true if the negligence per se rule applies. More on that below.

Hutchinson, MN Auto Accident Lawyers and Ordinary Negligence

A theory of responsibility helps jurors better understand the nature of the claim and makes the claim easier to prove. That being said, a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer must still establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. The elements of a negligence case in Minnesota are:

  • Duty: Most noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively at all times. Most commercial drivers, such as Uber drivers, have a higher duty of care, especially in motorcycle crash claims.
  • Breach: Duty is a question of law for the judge. Breach is a question of fact for the jury. Some of the common breaches of duty were outlined above.
  • Cause: “But-for” causation means the crash would not have happened but for the tortfeasor’s negligence. Proximate cause means foreseeability. A Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer must prove both kinds of cause.
  • Damages: The victim/plaintiff must suffer physical injury. A near miss is not actionable in court. If the damages are related to a physical injury, the monetary award is tax-free.

Victim/plaintiffs must prove all these elements by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Negligence Per Se

Sometimes, Minnesota law establishes the standard of care. So, tortfeasors are liable for damages as a matter of law if they violate a safety law and that violation substantially causes injury. There’s no need to prove duty or breach. These are usually the most time-consuming elements of a negligence case. Instead, victim/plaintiffs must only prove cause and damages.

The negligence per se shortcut usually only applies if emergency responders gave the tortfeasor a ticket. Frequently, that’s not the case, even if the tortfeasor clearly broke a traffic law. The motorcycle prejudice often comes into play at this point. In their heart of hearts, many people, including many first responders, believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs who do not deserve protection.

Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyers must overcome this prejudice, and other obstacles as well, to obtain fair compensation in motorcycle wreck claims.

Contact a Tenacious Lawyer

Substantial compensation is available in motorcycle wreck cases, but insurance companies do not simply give this money away. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

U-Haul Truck Crash Liability Issues and Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers

Statistically, most people move between May and September. So, we are now well into the biggest moving time of the year. Many people try to save money by renting U-Haul or other moving trucks and handling most everything themselves. As a result, it’s not too unusual to see several of these trucks on area roads at any given time. These operators have little experience driving large trucks and often over-rely on GPS navigation devices. So, in short, they are dangerous.

Since these operators do not own these vehicles, the traditional negligent entrustment rule would seem to apply. This doctrine holds vehicle owners, like U-Haul, responsible for car crash damages if the loan their property to incompetent drivers who cause accidents. But the Graves Amendment, an obscure piece of federal legislation, changes things significantly, as outlined below.

Many vehicle renters have little or no insurance. So, if you were hurt in a U-Haul truck crash, it’s important to obtain compensation from the company. Fortunately, a good Brainerd, MN injury lawyer has some was to get around the Graves Amendment and get victims the compensation they need and deserve. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

The Negligent Entrustment Rule

Negligent entrustment is one of the most common vicarious liability theories in Minnesota. Most of these cases involve teen drivers, and Minnesota has a very broad family purpose doctrine. If a family member was using a car fro a family purpose, even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) took a side trip and the vehicle owner did not know about the trip, family-sanctioned use is presumed. So, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must only prove incompetence. Evidence of incompetence, in roughly descending order, includes:

  • No drivers’ license,
  • Safety-suspended drivers’ license,
  • Poor driving record with recent at-fault collisions,
  • Driving in violation of a license restriction, like no night driving, and
  • Poor driving record with older collisions which were the other driver’s fault.

Note that a drivers’ license record check can uncover evidence of incompetency. This area is rather significant in terms of the first Graves Amendment loophole.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and the “Not Otherwise Negligent” Requirement

Lawmakers approved the Graves Amendment in the early 2000s. Rep. Sam Graves (D-MO) wanted to protect Enterprise, U-Haul, and other such companies from liability judgments by making the negligent entrustment rule inapplicable in these cases.

Back then, it was almost impossible to run a drivers’ license check outside the DMV, except for very limited purposes. Now, technology and privacy laws have changed. Arguably, it is now the industry standard at places like U-Haul outlets to independently verify drivers’ licenses. Failure to adhere to an industry standard is typically negligence.

Section (a)(2) of the Graves Amendment states immunity only applies if the owner or agent was not negligent during the U-Haul rental transaction. Given the drivers’ license developments mentioned above, agents or owners who only perform visual license inspections are probably negligent.

The “Trade or Business” Requirement

Furthermore, under Section (a)(1), immunity only applies if the store was “engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles.” The brief Graves Amendment was an add-on to a large federal transportation bill. Curiously, the law defines some key terms, like “owner” and “agent,” but it does not define “trade or business.” So, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must look elsewhere to determine its meaning.

The Uniform Commercial Code, which is frequently cited in legal claims, defines a “merchant,” which is similar, as a person with special knowledge about a particular product who deals in that particular kind of product. This definition does not apply to most U-Haul retailers.

Most of these retailers are moving supply companies that happen to rent a few trucks. Vehicle rental is not their primary business line. Additionally, almost no U-Haul workers have special knowledge about the trucks on the lot. They know how to drive them, but that’s about it.

In court, the insurance company/U-Haul company usually has the burden of proof on this point. Its lawyers must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Graves Amendment immunity applies. Given this discussion, that showing is unlikely.

Connect with a Hard-Hitting Attorney

The negligent entrustment rule usually applies in U-Haul crashes, despite the Graves Amendment. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN 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.

How Can a Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyer Overcome Common Motorcycle Crash Defenses?

On average, motorcycle crashes are twenty-seven times deadlier than four-wheel vehicle crashes. So, for survivors and insurance companies, the financial stakes are much higher. Insurance companies that generally settle claims quickly batten down the hatches. And, insurance companies that normally contest car crash claims fight motorcycle wreck claims even harder.

Many times, insurance company strategies hinge upon one of the defenses listed below. Generally, insurance company lawyers have the burden of proof and the burden of persuasion in these situations.

So, to obtain maximum compensation, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer must do more than prepare a solid damages claim. Good lawyers also anticipate insurance company defenses, so they can refute them in court. This dual approach is usually the best way to obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Helmet Defense

Minnesota has a limited motorcycle helmet law. Additionally, there are multiple studies and statistics which at least purport to show a relationship between helmet use and injury reduction. For these reasons, many Crow Wing County victims believe that, if they were helmetless, they are ineligible for compensation.

Insurance companies count on this attitude. They hope that this belief prevents victims from consulting a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer.

But not so fast. The so-called helmet defense is flatly illegal in Minnesota. Insurance company lawyers cannot bring up helmet non-use in either the liability or damages portion of a negligence trial. So, helmet non-use is also irrelevant during pretrial settlement negotiations.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Contributory Negligence

Comparative fault is probably the most common insurance company defense in vehicle collision claims. This legal loophole might apply if both parties were arguably at fault for a crash. For example, a rider might have been speeding when a tortfeasor (negligent driver) illegally pulled into the rider’s lane.

As mentioned, insurance companies have the burden of proof, and the burden of persuasion, in these cases. Here’s how that works in this example. First, the insurance company must convince the judge that the defense is legally available. That’s probably not the case unless the rider was excessively speeding.

Then, the insurance company must convince a jury that the defense applies. Generally, the insurance company must present additional evidence of rider carelessness, like lane-splitting. If the jury applies the defense, the jury must divide fault on a percentage basis between the victim and tortfeasor.

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. Therefore, in most cases, the contributory negligence defense only reduces the victim’s damages

Last Clear Chance

This legal loophole is a bit like contributory negligence. However, if the last clear chance defense applies, the tortfeasor is not liable for damages at all.

Let’s return to the previous example. Insurance company lawyers could argue that the victim had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck. When the rider saw the tortfeasor change lanes illegally, the rider had a duty to change lanes or take other action to avoid the crash. At least, that’s how these defense works in theory.

In practice, it is almost impossible for riders to safely make sudden moves on their bikes. In most cases, they would lose control of their rides and cause a more serious accident than the one they prevented. That’s especially true if weather, traffic, and other conditions are anything less than ideal.

Motorcycle Prejudice

Unlike the first two, the motorcycle prejudice defense is not found in any law book. But it is real, and Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must be prepared to deal with it.

Many jurors believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs. Jurors who remember the Hell’s Angel days or the Twin Peaks motorcycle gang shootout in Waco are more likely to hold this belief. Frequently, insurance company lawyers make subtle emotional appeals during jury selection, opening arguments, and closing arguments. The motorcycle prejudice defense is especially common if the contributory negligence defense is also an issue.

To combat the motorcycle prejudice, many Brainerd, MN accident lawyers try to remove biased jurors. Judges allow these removals, in most cases. Alternatively, a lawyer might accentuate the victim’s positive aspects, so s/he does not fit the motorcycle gang member mold.

Connect with an Experienced Attorney

Insurance companies have several go-to defenses in motorcycle crash claims, but they are all flawed. 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.

A Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Talks About Your Claim for Damages in a Motorcycle Crash Case

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.

Ordinary Negligence

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:

  • Speeding,
  • Making an illegal turn,
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and
  • Device distraction.

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.

Vehicle Collision Evidence and Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers

Driver error causes about 95 percent of the car crashes in Minnesota. establishing the nature of that driver error is often key to maximum compensation in a vehicle collision claim. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate safety laws, like speeding or making an illegal lane change, could be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Additionally, in driver impairment cases, such as alcohol or fatigue, many Crow Wing County jurors award higher damages. These drivers arguably intentionally disregard the safety of other people.

A good Brainerd, MN accident lawyer does more than obtain compensation for victims. Attorneys obtain justice for victims. Additionally, lawyers connect victims with doctors, often at no upfront coast. In other words, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer is committed to your total physical, emotional, and financial recovery.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Evidence

Solid compensation claims begin with evidence. The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a car wreck claim. Many times, this evidence comes from one of three sources. However, such evidence is not appropriate in all cases.

Frequently, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer starts with the police accident report. This official document, which is normally admissible in court, contains valuable information about the crash itself, along with the names of some key witnesses.

Police departments generally put up privacy red tape to prevent people from obtaining these reports. But an experienced attorney knows how to overcome this hurdle and quickly obtain a police report.

The accident report is usually, but not always, a valuable piece of evidence. Even the most experienced first responder is not an accident reconstructionist. These individuals do the best they can with the evidence available, but sometimes this evidence is not enough. Frequently, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer must dig deeper.

Additionally, if the victim was seriously injured or killed, the police accident report is probably oincomplete. Generally, such reports contain only one side of the story.

Medical bills are also difficult to obtain, due to privacy laws. So, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers usually obtain blanket waivers from victims during initial consultations. These waivers are sufficient to pry this valuable information away from hospital bureaucrats.

Like police accident reports, medical bills are generally admissible in court, provided that a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer lays the proper groundwork. These documents provide solid information about medical diagnosis, treatment, and cost.

Unfortunately, medical bills often miss the human element. Sometimes, nurses or doctors make notes about the victim’s level of pain and suffering. But these notes are not always present, and even if they are, they might not be admissible in court.

Finally, many car crash claims rely on witness statements. When unaffiliated people come forward and tell jurors what they saw, something almost mystical happens in the courtroom.

This evidence is often compelling, but it is not always accurate. Eyewitnesses could be incompetent to testify for some reason. Perhaps they know the victim, have an ax to grind with the tortfeasor, or were not wearing prescription eyewear at the time.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Electronic Evidence

So, in many cases, more evidence is necessary. That’s not just because the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof. Generally, there is a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages the jury awards.

The Event Data Recorder is often effective in car crash claims. Almost all vehicles have one of these gadgets, which is much like a commercial jet’s black box flight recorder. EDRs measure and store data like:

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

Assuming the EDR was working properly, the device is never wrong. So, it’s almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to block EDR evidence.

That’s assuming this device is available. Frequently, insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles within a few days of the accident. If that occurs, any physical evidence the vehicle contained, including the EDR, is gone.

So, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers quickly send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all potential physical evidence, including the EDR, for trial.

Surveillance video is often useful as well. Gone are the days of grainy, black-and-white security videotapes. Most cameras digitally record HD video. Such evidence usually impresses Crow Wing County jurors.

As mentioned, first responders usually only conduct cursory investigations. Even if the video footage only captured part of the wreck, it can be very compelling in court. Like EDRs, cameras are never inaccurate, if they were working properly.

Contact an Assertive Attorney

Evidence is usually the key to a successful car wreck claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

How Much Money Can a Passenger Get in a Car Accident? A Good Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Knows.

In 2019, car crashes permanently injured millions of Americans. A tortfeasor (negligent driver) is usually responsible for these wrecks. That responsibility could be a lack of ordinary care, such as driving with a serious medical condition or while fatigued. Alternatively, that fault could be the violation of a safety law, like making an illegal turn or driving while intoxicated.

As outlined below, the legal rules are a bit different for passengers than for drivers. Nevertheless, substantial damages are usually available. These damages normally 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.

Since these claims are complex, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer should always evaluate your case. It does not matter which driver got a ticket, or if any driver got a ticket.

Physical Injuries

In car crashes, passengers are vulnerable to the same serious physical injuries as drivers. In fact, passengers might be even more vulnerable. Most drivers are at least somewhat paying attention to the road. So, when collisions are imminent, their bodies brace for impact. That’s often not true with regard to passengers.

Even if the victim was wearing a seat belt, which is normally the case, the extreme forces in vehicle collisions often cause injuries like:

  • Head Injuries: Passengers sustain head injuries in several different ways. Their heads often slam into dashboards or other solid objects. Moreover, in many wrecks, cell phones and other small objects become high-speed missiles. Most frequently, car crashes cause whiplash, which is a motion-related head injury.
  • Broken Bones: Fall-related fractures are sometimes not too serious. But crash-related fractures are usually extreme;y serious. The crushed bones usually require extensive surgery and physical therapy. Even then, permanent loss of full function is not unusual.
  • Internal Bleeding: Internal organs have no protective skin layer. So, when they grind and bump against each other, they often bleed profusely. In fact, it’s common for victims to be on the edge of hypovolemic shock before first responders even arrive.

Full compensation is usually available even if the victim had a pre-existing condition, like a bad knee. A Hutchinson, MN lawyer must only establish that the new injury aggravated the old injury, and not the other way around. This showing must only be by a preponderance of the proof (more likely than not). So, a little evidence goes a long way.

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and Insurance Company Defenses

Many negligence defenses involve driver conduct. This is where things get really complicated. So, an illustration might be useful.

Assume Don and Melanie are on their way to a party when Nancy crosses the center line and hits Don head-on. All three people are seriously injured.

Legally, the wreck could be Don’s fault or Nancy’s fault. That determination depends on the facts. If Nancy suddenly swerved into Don’s lane, she was probably liable. If Don saw Nancy coming and did nothing to avoid the wreck, he might be responsible.

As far as Melanie is concerned, this issue is irrelevant. A Hutchinson, MN lawyer could file a claim against either Don or Nancy. They could argue between themselves about responsibility, but one of them has to compensate Melanie for her injuries.

We are just getting started. A number of non-driving defenses, especially assumption of the risk, might apply to passenger injuries. This doctrine comes into play if the victim:

  • Voluntarily assumed
  • A known risk.

This defense often applies in dog bite and other premises liability claims. Many owners have yard signs that say things like “Beware of Dog.”

Does assumption of the risk apply to injured passengers? Maybe. Getting into a car is almost always a voluntary act. However, the risk of a car crash is usually not a known risk. It’s only a possible risk. There is a big difference.

Non-Physical Injuries

In some cases, these defenses do not apply, or at least they apply differently. Even if passengers are not physically injured, they might still be entitled to compensation. Hutchinson, MN lawyers can expand the zone of danger rule and possibly increase passenger compensation significantly.

This rule comes from the 1928 case Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad. In Palsgraf, negligent railroad workers began a chain of tragic events which ended with Ms. Palsgraf’s serious injury. The court eventually ruled that her injuries were not foreseeable, so the railroad was not legally responsible.

Normally, dissenting opinions in court cases are forgotten. Almost no one remembers who lost last year’s Super Bowl. But William Andrews’ dissent in Palsgraf is different. Judge Andrews embraced the zone of danger rule. If you were negligently injured, you deserve compensation for that injury. End of story.

Today, the expanded zone of danger rule normally applies if there was a close relationship between the victim and the passenger. So, in the above example, assume Don was physically hurt but Melanie was not. If they were closely related by blood or marriage, Melanie might still be entitled to compensation.

Connect with Tenacious Attorneys

Injured passengers might be entitled to substantial compensation. 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 insurance or money.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (612) 800-8057
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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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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

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Phone: (952) 260-9640
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