How Minnesota Divorce Lawyers Deal With The Recent Alimony Change

Statistically, it is very difficult for divorced women to rebuild wealth. Therefore, spousal maintenance is an important part of most Minnesota divorces. Beginning on January 1, 2019, alimony will be a lot different.

One change went into effect in August 2016. The new alimony reform law actually affected spousal support modifications, which means that the law is just now coming into play. The Cohabitation Alimony Reform Bill makes it easier to modify alimony based on future cohabitation. There was a concern among many Minnesota Divorce Lawyers that ex-spouses lived with their partners but did not get married so as to not affect their alimony.

The new law does not outlaw this practice, but it does give obligor spouses a fighting chance. Instead of simply looking at the exchange of vows, judges may consider several factors, such as the length of cohabitation and the economic benefit which the ex-spouse receives from this arrangement.

The other big change was part of the December 2017 tax reform package. Currently, alimony payments are tax-deductible and alimony receipts are taxable income. Effective January 1, 2019, both these things go away. The obligor can no longer deduct alimony payments, and the obligee does not have to report the payments to the IRS or MDR.

For tax purposes, spousal support payment will be like child support payments. Neither payments nor receipts have any tax consequences. If alimony reformers had their way, the entire system would change along these lines. Many people decry the subjective nature of alimony in places like Minnesota. In the summer of 2017, there were rumblings that the Legislature would soon consider a comprehensive alimony reform bill. But so far, nothing has materialized.

What Types of Alimony Can Minnesota Divorce Lawyers Set Up?

As it stands, Minnesota law contains three different kinds of alimony. A Minnesota judge may order any, all, or none of these types.

  • Temporary Maintenance: While the case is pending, many spouses have immediate and unexpected financial needs. These needs include things like attorneys’ fees, property deposits, and household maintenance expenses such as rent and utilities. Temporary maintenance gives spouses the money they need to meet these expenses. Income is basically the only factor. Courts rarely look at the broader picture.
  • Short-Term Maintenance: These payments are appropriate if a spouse needs some additional help after the divorce to become self-sufficient. That could be money to finish a college degree or an additional income stream because the spouse must accept a lower-paying entry level job. Other ex-spouses need money while they wait for a house to sell.
  • Long-Term Maintenance: Reformers hate this third type of alimony. It is subjective and also clearly designed to redistribute income. Although the rule is not set in stone, most Wright County judges do not award long-term alimony unless the spouse can never become self-sufficient, perhaps due to a disability, or the marriage lasted longer than ten years.

Minnesota Divorce Lawyers may usually modify the alimony terms based on changed circumstances. As discussed above, the 2016 alimony reform bill made these motions easier to prove in some situations.

Factors in Determining Amount of Payments

The above categories roughly coincide with the duration of alimony payments. For example, temporary maintenance automatically ends when the judge signs the decree. As for the amount of payments, the judge basically weighs the obligee spouse’s economic need against the obligor spouse’s ability to pay. Some specific factors include:

  • Each Spouse’s Economic Means: In addition to employment and other income streams, the judge may normally take the property settlement into consideration. That includes any award of separate property.
  • Educational Need: Obligor spouses do not need to help pay for self-improvement classes. But they do have a legal obligation to help pay for courses related to economic self-sufficiency. That status is in everyone’s best interest.
  • Standard of Living During the Marriage: This factor looms large in long-term maintenance awards. According to the law, the divorce should not be an unfair financial burden for either spouse. Some financial pain is inevitable. But, it should be evenly spread between the parties to the greatest extent possible.

Fault in the breakup of the marriage is not relevant with regard to alimony. But Minnesota Divorce Lawyers may be able to introduce such evidence in the property division phase, through a back door called the dissipation (waste) rule. If Wife spent $10,000 on a gift for a boyfriend, Husband may be entitled to reimbursement for the community share.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A MINNESOTA DIVORCE LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

Parts of the alimony law are changing, but other parts are still the same. For a free consultation with experienced Minnesota Divorce Lawyers, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

How Do Brainerd Lawyers Fight DWI’s?

Drinking-and-driving infractions are quite common in semi-rural areas like Crow Wing County. In some jurisdictions, as many as half the probationers were convicted of DWI. Due to the high volume, many Brainerd Lawyers automatically try to arrange plea bargains in these cases. Especially if the defendant took a chemical test, which most do, these attorneys believe that the state’s evidence is just too overwhelming.

However, that’s not always the case. Even if the defendant provided a chemical sample, it’s possible to fight a DWI charge and win.

What is at Stake?

Even if you are convicted of a first-time DWI, you may some jail time. You will almost certainly serve a lengthy period of probation. But those are not the biggest consequences of a DWI.

One major effect is possible drivers’ license suspension. In a place like Brainerd that has very little public transportation, a drivers’ license is practically a necessity. There may be no other way to run necessary errands, get to and from work, and get the kids to and from school. A first DWI could mean up to a one-year suspension.

Higher insurance rates are the second major consequence. These costs are usually the biggest ones, by far, in a DWI. Many people may see their rates increase by as much as 90 percent. Their rates usually stay that high for at least three years.

Attacking the FSTs

The Field Sobriety Tests almost always provide probable cause for the arrest. Legally, if the officer did not have probable cause, the arrest is invalid and so is the prosecution. If the defendant did not provide a chemical sample, and about one in five do not, the FSTs also serve as evidence of intoxication at trial.

So, it’s important to undermine the FSTs to the greatest extent possible. At Carlson & Jones, our Brainerd lawyers use proven methods to do just that.

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: In the HGN test, defendants must track moving objects with their eyes without moving their heads. If there are involuntary pupil movements at certain angles, the person probably has nystagmus. One problem with the HGN DWI test is that it often takes place at night while overhead squad car lights flash in the defendant’s face. Another problem is that alcohol is not the leading cause of nystagmus. In fact, it’s not even close to the leading cause of nystagmus.
  • Walk and Turn: For the heel-to-toe walk test, defendants must walk a straight line heel-to-toe then walk back the same way. Officers are supposed to give defendants the opportunity to remove high-heel shoes and account for various disabilities, but they don’t always do those things. Furthermore, it is almost impossible for anyone, drunk or sober, to walk an imaginary line in the dark heel-to-toe.
  • One Leg Stand: Much like the WAT, the OLS is a divided attention test that measures both physical and mental ability. Also like the WAT, officers often testify that the defendant “failed” the test based on a technicality like lifting the leg at a slightly-incorrect angle.

Some peace officers in Brainerd also use unapproved FSTs, like reciting the ABCs or the finger-to-nose test. But these tests are usually either inadmissible or only admissible for limited purposes.

How Brainerd DWI Lawyers Challenge Chemical Tests

If the defendant provides a chemical sample, it is nearly always a breath sample. Per a recent Supreme Court decision, officers must obtain search warrants to perform blood tests. Except in rare cases, they usually do not take that extra step.

Today’s Breathalyzer is a small device that looks very high-tech. But on the inside, it is basically the same gadget as the Drunk-O-Meter which appeared in the 1950s. So, the Breathalyzer suffers from some of the same flaws, including:

  • Acetone Levels: Diabetics, smokers, and many other individuals have high levels of these particles in their bodies. The Breathalyzer reads them as ethanol. So, the reading may be artificially high.
  • Mouth Alcohol: The law was once very strict about a fifteen-minute monitoring period. That’s no longer the case. Ironically, however, the change may benefit Brainerd DWI Lawyers and their clients. With no one to monitor the defendant, there may be no way to prove that the defendant did not burp or belch prior to the test. Such activity releases mouth alcohol which skews the results.
  • Unabsorbed Alcohol: If the defendant has been drinking in the past hour or so, the kidneys have not yet absorbed the alcohol into the bloodstream. Once again, the results may be artificially high.

These flaws are especially important in borderline BAC cases, such as a .08 or .09. Basically, the Breathalyzer measures breath alcohol and uses that value to estimate the person’s blood alcohol level. Many people do not understand that there is an extra step involved, so Brainerd lawyers must educate jurors without talking down to them.

Call Today To Speak With A Brainerd DWI Lawyer From Carlson & Jones

The anti-DUI fight is a winnable fight. For a free consultation with experienced Brainerd Lawyers, contact Carlson & Jones. We routinely handle cases in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

BRAINERD LAWYERS

17025 Commercial Park Road
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Brainerd, MN 56401
Toll Free: 877-344-1555
Phone: 218-454-3337
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Who is the Best Personal Injury Attorney in Minnesota?

Perhaps moreso than other lawyers, the best Minnesota Personal Injury Attorney must be both compassionate and assertive. Maybe not quite to this extent, but somewhere in that neighborhood.

Because few things are as disruptive as a personal injury, an attorney must be compassionate. The wake of an accident usually brings financial stress in the form of unpaid medical bills. The stress is even worse since, in most cases, the victim is not working at the time due to injury. There’s also the intense pain and suffering that usually gets worse before it gets better. While all this is going on, insurance company executives call constantly seeking to settle the case.

Your attorney must also be assertive. Substantial compensation is usually available to accident victims. But, the insurance company does not simply give it away. So, at Carlson & Jones, we act quickly to collect evidence on your behalf. Then, much like a painter, we take the colors on our palate and paint a picture for the jury. This assertive approach usually ensures maximum compensation for our clients.

Legal Issues in Minnesota Vehicle Collisions

Human error causes over 90 percent of the car crashes in Minnesota. So, negligence is almost always involved in one way or another. Car accidents are a good illustration of what makes Carlson & Jones the best personal injury attorneys in Minnesota.

We start each one of these cases with a comprehensive consultation. Sometimes, the police accident report only records one side of the story. We want to hear both sides. That gives us a good idea of the evidence we need to collect and the legal theories we need to apply.

One of the most important bits of evidence is the Event Data Recorder. Many people do not even know that their vehicle contains an EDR. This gadget is a lot like the “black box” flight recorder in a commercial jet. The EDR captures and records figures like:

  • Vehicle speed,
  • Engine RPM,
  • Steering angle,
  • Airbag deployment, and
  • Certain other mechanical statistics.

In many ways, electronic evidence is better than eyewitness testimony. A witness might say that the car was going “fast,” but the EDR can nail it down to 52.25mph.

Armed with evidence like this, an aggressive attorney can match the evidence with the correct legal theory. In car crash cases, there are basically two legal approaches:

  • Negligence: Some Minnesota car crash cases are based on a lack of ordinary care. That could be driving while dangerously fatigued or paying more attention to passengers than to the road. If that lack of care caused injury, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) may be legally responsible for damages.
  • Negligence Per Se: If the tortfeasor violated a safety law, perhaps by running a stop sign, driving while impaired, or changing lanes illegally, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages as a matter of law. In negligence per se cases, the victim/plaintiff need only prove that the legal violation substantially caused the damages.

In some cases, negligence per se is only a presumption of liability. The victim/plaintiff must offer additional evidence to conclusively prove liability.

The victim must establish each element of negligence or negligence per se by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). If the scales of justice tip ever so slightly in one direction, that party has met its burden of proof on that point.

The Best Personal Injury Attorneys in Minnesota Handle Premises Liability Claims

Negligent drivers are not the only tortfeasors in Minnesota. Landowners can also be liable for damages in some cases. Common instances include swimming pool injuries, slip-and-fall injuries, and dog bites.

Minnesota basically uses a common law classification system that divides victims into three categories and sets legal duty as appropriate. These categories are:

  • Invitee: Most people are invitees. These individuals have express or implied permission to be on the property and their presence confers a benefit on the owner. That benefit could be economic or noneconomic. If the victim is an invitee, the landowner has a duty of reasonable care.
  • Licensee: If there was permission but no benefit, the victim was a licensee. The guest of an apartment tenant is usually a licensee. The owner only owes licensee a duty to warn about latent (hidden) defects.
  • Trespasser: In a nutshell, no permission and no benefit means no duty. There are some limited exceptions, such as the attractive nuisance rule. This doctrine protects child trespassers from property-related injuries.

In addition to duty and damages, the victim/plaintiff must also establish knowledge. Sometimes, there is direct evidence of actual knowledge. But generally, a Minnesota victim/plaintiff must use circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known).

The Gopher State and most other jurisdictions use a variation of the time-notice rule. Think about a banana peel on the ground. If the peel is yellow, it probably just fell, so there is no duty. If the peel is black, it has probably been on the ground for a while, so there is probably constructive knowledge.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A MINNESOTA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

The best personal injury attorneys in Minnesota handle a wide range of negligence cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Minnesota, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

What Issues Can A Buffalo MN Divorce Lawyer Help With?

Two innovations in California family law in the 1970s had an almost seismic effect on twenty-first century Buffalo MN Divorces.

In 1970, one of the country’s first no-fault divorce laws went into effect. Before then, a spouse could get a divorce, but only on evidentiary grounds like mental cruelty or adultery. Nationwide, the divorce rate skyrocketed through the 1970s and 1980s. It levelled off in the 1990s and has actually declined a bit since 2000.

Also, during the 1970s, California lawmakers approved the nation’s first joint custody law. Before then, divorced fathers had almost no rights whatsoever when it came to their children. Joint custody has its detractors, but it is still the standard outcome in most Minnesota divorce cases and the goal that most Buffalo MN Divorce Lawyers work toward.

Financial Issues in a Minnesota Divorce

The concept of no-fault divorce, which Minnesota lawmakers quickly adopted, had some significant financial repercussions. Since no one spouse was responsible for ending the marriage, it stood to reason that no one spouse should suffer financially due to the breakup.

The division of debts and assets is the most obvious area. As a rule, any property or debt acquired during the marriage, unless it was a gift, is marital property. Some people are surprised that something like a 401k retirement account is marital property, even though only one spouse made the financial contributions.

Classification is especially difficult after a long marriage because property becomes commingled. For example, Wife may use money from her paycheck (marital property) to pay off her student loans (non-marital debt). Upon divorce, Husband may be entitled to some reimbursement for those dissipated (gone) marital funds.

As for the division itself, Minnesota is an equitable distribution state. “Equitable” is not necessarily the same thing as “equal.” To bring about an equitable division, Buffalo divorce lawyers look at a number of factors, including:

  • Length of the marriage,
  • Relative health, age, and educational background of each spouse,
  • Noneconomic contributions to the marriage (the “homemaker factor”),
  • Custody of minor children, and
  • Any agreements between the spouses.

The spousal agreement factor is usually the most important one. Minnesota has adopted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. Under the UPMAA, any agreement which was mostly voluntary and not entirely one-sided usually becomes part of the divorce.

Buffalo MN Divorce Lawyers and Child Custody

The Gopher State has a joint custody law. But that law usually refers to legal custody, which is basically the right to make important decisions concerning the children. “Joint custody” also refers to the right of access. In most cases, Minnesota law presumes that it is in the best interests of the children for them to have ongoing, meaningful contact with both parents.

In terms of physical custody, the children usually “live” with one parent and “visit” the other one every other weekend, every other holiday, most of the summer, and some other days in the year. The division usually works out to about a 70-30 time split.

Much like property division, Minnesota judges can use a variety of factors to determine the best interests of the children. Some of these factors include:

  • Child’s preference as to custody,
  • Family and sibling relationships,
  • Any agreements between the parties, and
  • The current state of affairs.

That last factor is usually the most important one. Most judges like to keep the status quo in effect, even if it is not perfect. So, unless there are major problems or new evidence arises as discussed below, most Wright County judges keep the children where they are.

How Does a Buffalo MN Divorce Lawyer Resolve Your Case?

Only about 3 percent of the civil cases in Minnesota go to trial. Instead, a Buffalo divorce lawyer resolves most property divisions through mediation. The social study resolves most child custody disputes.

Minnesota judges usually order contested cases to mediation. The setting is both trial-like and quite informal. After each side gives a brief opening statement, the two spouses and their attorneys retire to separate rooms. A neutral third-party mediator, who is usually a local family law attorney, then convey settlement offers back and forth.

Mediation is at least partially successful about three-fourths of the time. If the parties cannot resolve all disputes, they can at least narrow the issues for trial. Either way, most litigants save time and money through mediation, which is why the forum is so popular.

If child custody is an issue, most Minnesota judges order a social study. A social services investigator prepares a report after extensive interviews, research, and other activities. The judge does not technically have to accept the outcome. But, as far as most are concerned, the social services report is basically gospel truth.

An attorney has no control over the outcome, but a lawyer can influence the process. The right social worker is perhaps the single most ingredient in the outcome. Some social investigators have a bias toward one parent or another. Others have a reputation for cursory examinations instead of in-depth explorations.

 

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A BUFFALO MN DIVORCE LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

Buffalo divorces involve both emotional and financial issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Divorce Lawyer in Buffalo, Minnesota, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Our attorneys have over fifty years of combined experience.

BUFFALO MN LAW FIRM

215 East Highway 55
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Buffalo, MN 55313
Toll Free: 877-344-1555
Phone: 763-682-2220
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How to Expunge A Criminal Record in Minnesota

A criminal record is a major impediment to many of the things that ordinary Minnesotans take for granted. That includes basic items like a good job and a nice place to live.

Until a few years ago, Minnesota’s laws were very tough on people with criminal records. But in 2013, lawmakers passed a “ban the box” law. These laws prohibit job interview questions about a criminal background before a second interview. That way, proponents insist, a person at least gets a foot in the door.

In 2015, lawmakers reformed the state’s expunction laws. More people now have an opportunity to put their criminal pasts behind them. Of course, perhaps the best way to avoid these problems is not have a criminal conviction in the first place. In many situations, that may be an option even if the defendant is morally guilty of the charged offense.

Pretrial Diversion in Minnesota

These programs are available in many non-violent crimes, most notably theft and drug possession. Program eligibility varies, but these initiatives are almost always limited to first-time offenders.

From the early 1970s until 2017, Operation De Novo ran the pretrial diversion program in Hennepin County. The diversion programs currently available in Wright County are quite similar.  Typical program requirements included:

  • Oversight from a case manager, who was basically like a probation officer,
  • No further offenses during a period of probation,
  • Pay all restitution as ordered,
  • Complete a designated number of community service hours, and
  • Submit to random drug tests as directed.

If the defendant completes the program, the prosecutor drops the charges, and the case goes away. Having no criminal charges to deal with is one of the best ways to expunge a criminal record in Buffalo. Pretrial diversion, which could be in a specialized drug court, is often a very good option.

Stay of Adjudication in Minnesota

If pretrial diversion is unavailable for whatever reason, a stay of adjudication may be an option. This deferred disposition is available in drug crimes and most all other felonies and misdemeanors.

The defendant pleads guilty, but the judge does not enter a finding of guilt. Instead, the judge defers further proceedings for a few months or years, during which time the defendant is on probation. If the defendant successfully completes the probation, the case is dismissed.

A stay of adjudication automatically expunges a record in Buffalo, at least to some extent. Furthermore, there are usually no additional program requirements other than the normal terms of probation.

But the news is not all good. If the defendant violates the probation, the judge can sentence the defendant to any prison term up to and including the maximum under the law. Furthermore, a stay of adjudication does not affect the defendant’s arrest record. If a job application asks about a conviction, you can say “no.” But if the job application asks anything else, such as “Have you ever been arrested?” or “Have you ever been found guilty of a crime?” then you must answer “yes.”

Before accepting a stay of adjudication, thoroughly go over the pros and cons with your Buffalo attorney. Deferred disposition is a risky gamble. Sometimes it’s worth a try and sometimes it is not.

Formal Proceedings to Expunge a Record in Minnesota

In some states, it’s possible to completely delete a criminal record. But in Minnesota, it’s only possible to seal a criminal record from public view. The initial requirements are:

  • An eligible offense (most first-time drug possession offenses, theft-related offenses, juvenile offenses), or
  • An eligible disposition (finding of not guilty or case dismissed due to a lack of probable cause).

If your expungement petition depends on an eligible offense, it does not matter if you plead guilty or no contest.

Next, a waiting period applies depending on the facts of the case. The statutory waiting period is:

  • Two years if the underlying offense was a misdemeanor,
  • Four years for gross misdemeanors, and
  • Five years for felonies.

Most offenses, even DUIs, are expungable in Minnesota. About the only exceptions are most domestic violence-related offenses and sex crimes.

In many states, expungement is a given if the defendant meets the minimum qualifications. But in Minnesota, the judge has a great deal of discretion. Some factors to consider include:

  • The defendant’s risk to public safety, if any,
  • Severity of the offense,
  • The defendant’s criminal history,
  • Facts and circumstances of the crime,
  • The defendant’s efforts toward rehabilitation, and
  • Input from prosecutors and victims.

If your record is expunged, you may legally answer “no” when asked if you have been convicted of a crime. The record is still visible to court and police personnel, but not to members of the general public.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A MINNESOTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

People with criminal records may be able to expunge their records. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer

Many professional associations do not involve partnerships. For example, mechanics fix cars with little input from owners. The mechanic’s skill, all by itself, is usually enough to fix the car.

But an attorney-client relationship is different. To get the most out of your Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer, both attorney and client must actively participate. Of course, your lawyer has a great deal of professional advocacy skills. Attorneys also give very good legal advice. But these skills are meaningless without facts. The best legal arguments in the world are useless in civil court without evidence to support them. And, unless a lawyer knows all the facts, how can a lawyer give you good advice?

That’s where you come in. You provide the facts, so your lawyer can do the best job possible.

Don’t Hurt Your Case

In the medical profession, before the doctor helps the patient, the doctor must first concentrate on not harming the patient. Rash, pressure-packed decisions often do much more harm than good. Many Minnesota personal injury clients do the same thing to their legal claims. They sabotage their cases before attorneys have a chance to step in.

Car crashes are a very good example. Usually because of shock from the accident, some victims are not very careful about what they say or who they say it to. Although it’s often difficult, try to keep these points in mind:

  • Don’t Talk to the Other Insurance Company: You probably have a legal responsibility to inform your own insurance company about an accident. But you have no responsibility whatsoever to talk to the other insurance company. It’s natural to want to be helpful or to “set the record straight.” But insurance company employees know how to extract damaging information from victims, and their lawyers know how to use this information on court.
  • Avoid Social Media Posts: Obviously, your friends and loved ones want to know that you were in an accident and that you will be okay. But they do not need to know the details about the crash. Generally, the more times that people repeat a story, the fuzzier the details get. Moreover, if you make any damaging statements in a social media post, there is a permanent record of such statements.
  • Don’t Say “I’m Sorry”: We often apologize for things that aren’t our fault to express empathy. But in this context, this empathy can be construed as an admission of liability. Instead of apologizing for the accident, try to say something like “I’m sorry this happened to you.”

If you do any of these things, it is usually not the end of the world. An experienced lawyer can often minimize or even eliminate the damage. But to truly get the most out of your Minnesota personal injury lawyer, it’s very important to do your part.

The Importance of Communication in a Minnesota Attorney-Client Relationship

Lack of communication is one of the leading complaints that clients have about attorneys in Minnesota and elsewhere. But at Carson & Jones, we have an open door policy and a 24-hour turnaround. Our clients must never go through a secretary or paralegal to get to their attorney. We do not screen our appointments. Furthermore, someone will respond to your telephone call or email within twenty-four hours in all but the most extreme circumstances.

Communication goes both ways. Just like you rely on your attorney, your lawyer relies on you. For example, if there is a change or update as to your medical condition, we need to know straightaway. The same thing applies if you get a new address or phone number. Things sometimes happen very quickly in Minnesota personal injury cases, and we sometimes need your input immediately.

Get the Most out of Your Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer in the Damages Phase

Claims with a strong foundation of solid evidence usually turn out favorably for the client. Your goal, and our goal as well, is fair compensation.

When attorney and client work together, the damages available include more than compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and other economic losses. They do not even stop at compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and other noneconomic damages. At Carlson & Jones, we work to ensure that your injury compensation also includes justice. That way, you and your family can truly move on.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A MINNESOTA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

A successful attorney-client partnership usually ends in maximum compensation for the victim. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Minnesota, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

What To Expect From A MN Personal Injury Lawyer In Buffalo

If you were hurt because of someone else’s negligence, you need immediate financial assistance. Car crash injuries, such as whiplash, are very difficult to properly diagnose and treat. Dog bite injuries often require extensive reconstructive surgery. Finally, drug overdoses, falls, and swimming pool drownings usually cause serious injuries. It’s not unusual for the medical bills alone to exceed $100,000.

But you should expect more than just financial compensation from a personal injury lawyer in Buffalo. You should also expect your attorney to give you solid advice throughout this difficult time.

At Carlson & Jones, we have helped thousands of Minnesota accident victims over the years. Because of this experience, we have developed proven methods to deal with situations like the one your family is facing right now. Every case is different, but we use a common approach is most of them.

Hard Work

Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in negligence cases. Even if liability is crystal clear, it’s impossible to obtain fair compensation without evidence. So, you should expect your Buffalo MN Personal Injury Attorney to work hard in the initial phases of your case.

A vehicle’s Event Data Recorder is a very good example. Many people do not even know their vehicles contain EDRs. These highly-sophisticated gadgets capture and record information like:

  • Steering angle,
  • Acceleration or deceleration rate,
  • Vehicle speed, and
  • Airbag deployment.

Evidence like this is very valuable in a Buffalo car crash case. The evidence is even more valuable if it comes from an electronic source. Savvy insurance company lawyers can sometimes discredit eyewitness testimony. But assuming the device is working properly, it’s almost impossible to challenge EDR-related evidence.

As in many other areas, a Buffalo attorney must act quickly to preserve physical evidence. Most insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles within a few days of a crash. If that happens, the EDR may be gone forever. To prevent such an outcome, a Buffalo attorney will send a spoliation letter to the insurance company. That letter creates a legal duty to preserve all physical evidence, including the EDR, even though a legal claim is not yet on file.

You should also expect your Buffalo personal injury lawyer to have the resources necessary to do the job. Vehicle EDRs are very complex, and large truck EDRs are almost hopelessly complicated. It’s vital that your lawyer have the resources to access and download EDR data. Your claim for damages will probably be much weaker without such evidence.

Top Advocacy Skills

Evidence is useless until an experienced attorney uses t to craft legal arguments, just like a jigsaw puzzle is just a jumble of pieces until someone assembles it. In most injury-related cases, like the ones described above, there are several available theories:

  • Negligence: If the tortfeasor (negligent actor) did not use reasonable care, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages. Examples of such lapses include a failure to follow the rules of the road, keeping a dangerous dog unrestrained, or a failure to properly latch a swimming pool gate.
  • Negligence Per Se: Sometimes, the tortfeasor is liable for damages as a matter of law, so there is less that the victim/plaintiff needs to prove. If the tortfeasor violated a safety law, such as the DUI law, and that violation caused injury, the negligence per se shortcut is usually available.
  • Strict Liability: This theory applies in both defective product claims, such as a broken hip implant, and dog bite claims. For example, the Minnesota dog bite law is one of the most victim-friendly strict liability laws in the country. Owners or custodians are responsible for any and all injuries related to the attack. The victim/plaintiff need only establish cause.

But preparing your case is not enough. You also have the right to expect your Buffalo personal injury attorney to prepare for some common insurance company defenses, such as contributory negligence. Essentially, Minnesota insurance company lawyers try to shift blame for the accident from the tortfeasor onto the victim. The state’s laws with regard to contributory negligence are quite complex.

Should You Expect Results from a MN Personal Injury Lawyer in Buffalo?

There are very few guarantees in life, and there is no guarantee that your injury claim will be financially successful. However, if your attorney works hard to collect evidence and has outstanding advocacy skills, you have every reason to believe that fair compensation will follow.

There is one other ingredient. Your Buffalo personal injury lawyer must always stand up for you and be a strong voice in court. That passion usually fuels the necessary evidence collection and advocacy skills. Unless your lawyer displays such passion, your claim is likely to fall short.

The results you should expect include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A BUFFALO MN PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

If your attorney works hard, has above-average advocacy skills, and has a passion for accident victims, you should expect a positive result. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Buffalo, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. An attorney can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.

BUFFALO MN LAW FIRM

215 East Highway 55
Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313
Toll Free: 877-344-1555
Phone: 763-682-2220
Fax: 763-682-3330

OFFICE DETAILS | MAP AND DIRECTIONS

Are Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers Worth It?

Many people think that accident cases are straightforward affairs and that the insurance company “has their back.” So, they do not think that hiring a lawyer is necessary.

But these cases are very complex. For example, if Driver A runs a red light and rear-ends Driver B, Driver A may or may not be legally responsible for the crash. Or, if a child breaks into someone’s backyard and drowns in a swimming pool, that property owner could still be liable for damages.

There are other issues as well. Some kinds of injuries, like whiplash, are very hard to diagnose and treat. Only experienced Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers can connect victims with the best available medical help. Typically, attorneys can arrange for victims to receive this care at no upfront cost. That’s something a do-it-yourselfer could probably never do.

Although the elapsed time varies, most slip-and-falls, car crashes, dog bites, and other injury cases follow the same timeline. Minnesota personal injury lawyers make a difference every step of the way.

The Beginning

Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers arrange for medical treatment with a letter of protection. The letter guarantees payment when the case is resolved. So, the doctor does not demand money upfront. Normally, the attorney and doctor have a pre-existing relationship, so there is no friction in this process.

As a bonus, these letters allow Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers to negotiate with the provider for a lower fee. So, the victim may keep more of the settlement money.

It’s very important to see the doctor straightaway, even if you “feel fine.” More than likely, you do not feel injured because the accident triggered an adrenaline release. The pain starts to set in a few hours or days later. By that time, it may already be too late to properly treat some kinds of injuries.

In addition to medical treatment, an attorney also helps with evidence collection. Most passenger cars have Event Data Recorders. Capability varies by make and model, but most EDRs are like the “black boxes” in commercial airplanes. The EDR contains a lot of evidence. But most insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles within a few days. If that happens, the EDR is probably gone for good.

To prevent this outcome, an attorney sends a spoliation letter to the vehicle’s custodian. This letter serves notice that a lawsuit may be filed later. That creates a legal duty to preserve all potential evidence in the case, including the EDR. Since victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof, the EDR and other physical evidence in the vehicle is often invaluable.

The Middle

Next, Minnesota personal injury lawyers take the facts they collect and mold them into a compelling legal case. Because of the complexities mentioned above, only experienced attorneys can perform this task well. Attorneys must match the evidence with each element of negligence claim. These elements are:

  • Duty,
  • Breach,
  • Cause,
  • Proximate cause, and

Premises liability cases, like slip-and-fall injuries, work a little differently. IN most cases, the victim/plaintiff must also prove that the property owner knew about the dangerous property condition. Typically, either direct or circumstantial evidence will suffice.

Minnesota personal injury lawyers use the strength of the plaintiff’s case, and a few other factors, to ascertain a reasonable settlement value. That way, you do not sell your case for less than it’s worth. Also, you do not unnecessarily hold out for money that’s probably unavailable.

Some other factors include the location of the case, because people in some Minnesota counties are more conservative than others. Other factors include the possible insurance company defenses, such as comparative fault or assumption of the risk.

The End

Almost all negligence cases settle out of court. If there is no dispute as to liability, the insurance company has a legal duty to settle the case immediately. But there is always at least some dispute in this area, which is why many personal injury cases take several months to resolve.

Resolution usually comes during informal or formal mediation. Once again, an attorney is a difference maker.

  • Informal Mediation: This process is basically a series of discussions between your attorney and the insurance company lawyer. Most individuals have no access to insurance company lawyers, so these talks are only possible through an attorney.
  • Formal Mediation: Here, an attorney combines negotiating skills with advocacy skills. Formal mediation is something of a mini-trial. That skill set is something that only experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyers possess.

When all is said and done, you have peace of mind in knowing that your attorney fought for you every step of the way. That’s something that cannot be bought or sold at any price.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH THE MINNESOTA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS AT CARLSON & JONES

Partnering with a Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer is the best decision you can make in an accident-related claim. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Minnesota, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have office locations in Buffalo, Brainerd, Hutchinson and Minnetonka, MN.

How to Choose the Right Buffalo MN Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have a lot of choices as to a Buffalo MN Personal Injury Lawyer. It’s a very important decision and not one to take lightly. The right choice can make things much better for you and your family; the wrong choice could make a bad situation even worse.

To get the information you need, the attorney’s website is a good place to start. Other places include reviews on social media and the attorney’s professional activities (e.g. speaking engagements or books authored). During your search, try to keep the following things in mind.

Availability

Part of this inquiry involves geographic location. Injured victims often struggle with mobility issues. So, driving all the way across the county to see your lawyer will get very old very quickly. Try to find someone with a nearby office. If the lawyer can come to you, perhaps in a hospital room or a coffee shop, that’s even better.

The office atmosphere is important as well. It’s best to choose a lawyer that is reasonably available, but not always available. If the lawyer answers the phone on the first or second ring and responds to your emails within minutes, that may be a bad sign. That might indicate that the attorney has few clients and scant resources.

Then again, no one likes phantom lawyers. If your Buffalo MN Personal Injury Lawyer is seemingly always unavailable, that may indicate a lack of commitment to the law or to your case. It’s also very frustrating to have a question and wait several days for an answer.

Compassion

One of our colleagues (who will remain nameless) likes to say that if you want a nice lawyer, go see your grandmother. Many attorneys share this sentiment. They press every issue and contest every inch of legal ground. That unbridled aggression is not always a good thing, especially in Buffalo personal injury cases.

About 97 percent of injury cases settle out of court. So, your attorney needs to be a good negotiator as well as an aggressive advocate.  Good negotiators are compassionate people. That simply means you can understand both sides of a story. If your lawyer is not compassionate, these negotiations will most likely fail, and the case will drag on needlessly.

A good Buffalo personal injury attorney must also feel compassion for clients. It’s important to consider the victim’s pain and suffering and factor these things into the legal case. An inability to show empathy is very frustrating for clients.

Just as with availability, it’s important to find a Buffalo personal injury attorney who walks the line between aggression and compassion. You do not want too much of either one.

Good Reputation

Reputation has a lot to do with success in any field of endeavor. That’s especially true with regard to Buffalo MN Personal Injury Lawyers.

Some lawyers have good reputations when it comes to things like preparation, attention to detail, and zealous representation. Insurance companies respect these individuals and do not want to go against them at trial. As a result, attorneys with good reputations often get more favorable settlements for their clients.

Unfortunately, many lawyers have poor reputations. They do sloppy work or seem uninterested in their clients’ cases. More often than not, insurance companies take advantage of these lawyers. They discount their settlement offers because they are not afraid of a courtroom confrontation.

Reputation among court personnel is important as well. We all need a little help from time to time. Some lawyers have a reputation for treating court clerks with respect. These lawyers usually get the help they need. Other attorneys have a reputation for demeaning court clerks. These lawyers are on their own, because the clerk’s naughty list is a very bad place to be.

Experience

This is by far the most important quality in a Buffalo personal injury attorney. But it’s important to note that experience goes beyond years of practice.

Your lawyers should be experienced in negligence matters. If you cannot hear well, you do not go to a podiatrist (foot doctor) even though they are both physicians. The same thing applies in the legal context. If you have a negligence case, do not go to a corporate lawyer.

Every type of negligence case is different. For example, even though they both involve negligence and injuries, a dog bite case is almost nothing like a car crash case. Your legal claim is incredibly valuable. So, your lawyer should not be learning on the job.

On that same note, your attorney should have experience in Wright County or wherever your claim is located. All courts have their own unique procedural rules, and these rules are often unwritten.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A BUFFALO MN PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

Your attorney is your partner in your negligence case, so choose wisely. For a free consultation with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Buffalo, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We successfully handle cases in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

BUFFALO MN LAW FIRM

215 East Highway 55
Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313
Toll Free: 877-344-1555
Phone: 763-682-2220
Fax: 763-682-3330

OFFICE DETAILS | MAP AND DIRECTIONS

Why Experience Matters In Your MN Personal Injury Case

Inexperienced attorneys often don’t know the different procedures in different courtrooms. Many of the counties in Minnesota have their own procedural rules, and many of these rules are unwritten. As a result, an inexperienced attorney may spend more energy focusing on what to do as opposed to the merits of your case.

Perhaps more importantly, an inexperienced attorney may be unfamiliar with the complexities and nuances of Minnesota injury compensation law. The lawyer who wrote your will may be an outstanding estate and probate attorney but know little about other areas of law. So, you need someone with experience in personal injury matters. This expertise makes a difference in a number of ways.

Negligence in a MN Personal Injury Case 

Like most other parts of American law, the doctrine of negligence came from Great Britain. Before the Industrial Revolution of the early 1900s, there was no need for a negligence law. But large factories and automobiles changed society, and the law needed to change as well.

Factories were an issue in 1932’s Donoghue v. Stevenson. Ms. Donoghue was having ice cream and ginger beer in a café one afternoon. To her horror, there was a dead and partially decomposed snail in the bottom of the beer bottle. She filed a claim against Mr. Stevenson, the local beer bottler. Her claim alleged that he had a duty “to provide a system of working his business that was safe, and would not allow snails to get into his ginger beer bottles (including the said bottle).”

That claim seems obvious to us. But a hundred years ago, Donoghue was a first-of-its-kind case. To deal with this claim, Lord Akin applied the “neighbour principle,” which is a variation of the Golden Rule that some Minnesota schoolchildren once had to memorize.

You must not injure your neighbour; and. . .you must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be–persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.

This principle eventually came to American law as the duty of care. Duty is the first element in a negligence case. Most people have a duty of reasonable care. For example, drivers must be sober, pay attention to driving, and obey the rules of the road. Minnesota courts added four other elements to a negligence case, which are:

  • Breach: People breach the duty of care in Minnesota when their conduct falls below the acceptable standard. To stay with the car crash example, most people who drive while intoxicated or fatigued breach the duty of reasonable care, as do motorists who play with their phones while driving or speed excessively.
  • Cause: There must be a direct relationship between the tortfeasor’s (negligent actor’s) breach and the victim’s damages. Attorneys sometime call this element “but-for causation,” as in the accident would not have happened but for the tortfeasor’s negligence.
  • Proximate Cause: This phrase is basically Legalese for “substantial cause.” In a landmark case from New York, some railroad workers caused a man to drop a package of fireworks. The fireworks exploded, causing a large scale to topple onto the victim. A judge later held that the railroad was not liable for a particular passenger’s injury. The connection between the two was too remote.
  • Damages: The victim/plaintiff must suffer an actual injury due to the fall, car crash, or whatever. “Close calls” and “near misses” are extremely upsetting but not actionable in most cases. That being said, if the victim sustains a serious injury, the victim may receive compensation for intangible injuries, such as pain and suffering.

Minnesota law defines a serious injury as one that costs more than $4,000 in medical bills, requires more than 60 days of recuperation, or results in even a slight permanent injury.

Complicating matters even further, the negligence per se shortcut may be available in some Minnesota injury cases. In these situations, the victim need not establish the five elements of a negligence case. Instead, the victim/plaintiff need only show that:

  • The tortfeasor violated a safety law, such as DUI, and
  • That lapse proximately caused the victim’s injuries.

In both negligence and negligence per se cases, the victim must usually prove each element by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Some Insurance Company Defenses

An experienced attorney not only prepares the victim’s case. An experienced attorney also knows how to handle some common insurance company defenses. Insurance company lawyers often try to use these legal loopholes to reduce or deny compensation to the victim. Some common defenses include:

  • Contributory Negligence: This theory shifts blame onto the victim. For example, in a car crash, the insurance company may admit that the tortfeasor was drunk but claim that the victim’s illegal lane change really caused the accident.
  • Assumption of the Risk: This defense is common in swimming pool drowning and dog bite cases. The property owner tries to use a “No Lifeguard On Duty” or “Beware Of Dog” sign to argue that the victim should have known about, and should have avoided, the dangerous situation.

Other insurance company defenses include the sudden emergency defense and the last clear chance doctrine.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A  MN PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

There’s no substitute for experience in negligence cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Minnesota, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have four office locations in the state.

 

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (612) 800-8057
Fax: 763-682-3330

Office Details
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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (218) 736-9429
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (320) 289-4761
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (952) 260-9640
Fax: 763-682-3330

Office Details
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