Left Turn Motorcycle Wrecks and Buffalo Car Crash Lawyers

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

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

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

Building Succesful Left-Turn Crash Claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buffalo Car Crash Lawyers and Motorcycle Wreck Defenses

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

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

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

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

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

Resolving Your Claim for Damages

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

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

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

Contact Experienced Attorneys

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

How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer in Brainerd, MN Resolve Motorcycle Crash Claims?

When vehicles collide, multiple restraint layers protect vehicle occupants from injury. Yet these crashes still kill or seriously injure millions of people every year, largely due to the excessive force in these crashes. Riders have none of these protections, So, it’s not surprising that motorcycle rider fatalities are 300 percent higher than vehicle occupant fatalities.

Due to the seriousness of motorcycle crashes, the injuries they cause, and the pain and suffering these injuries cause, usually mean that substantial damages are available. Insurance companies care only about their own profits. So, their lawyers often fight these claims tooth and nail.

A Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer, on the other hand, is committed to you. A lawyer’s commitment might be the only way to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. All these claims are different, but the procedure is largely the same.

Evidence Collection

Usually, this process begins with a police accident report. Because of privacy laws and other red tape, it might take private citizens weeks to obtain the report. But in most cases, a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer only needs to make a phone call.

Sometimes, the evidence collection process ends here as well, at least for the most part. The report’s narrative helps a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer evaluate the case. The police accident report also contains information like the name and contact information for crash witnesses, if any.  Medical records, which are also easy for an attorney to obtain, often fill in the gaps.

In other cases, however, the police accident report is insufficient, especially in motorcycle crash claims. The narrative is a good example. Frequently, the victim was seriously injured or killed. Therefore, the narrative only contains one side of the story.

Typically, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) insists that the rider “came out of nowhere” and the collision was inevitable. This line sometimes has legal significance, as outlined below.

Additional evidence in a motorcycle crash claim includes the tortfeasor’s Event Data Recorder. Since these gadgets store things like vehicle speed and steering angle, EDR information often paints a much clearer picture of what happened.

Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and the Types of Negligence

Evidence is like the random dots in one of those connect-the-dots pictures from kindergarten. By itself, evidence means nothing. So, a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer must connect the dots for the jury.

Ordinary negligence is one of the most common theories in motorcycle crash claims. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and avoid accidents when possible. Thay duty includes looking out not only for other cars, but for motorcycles as well.

To Brainerd, MN, personal injury lawyers, this type of negligence is operational negligence. Other times, negligence claims take root before drivers get behind the wheel. Perhaps they are intoxicated or sleepy. Behavioral negligence causes a great number of crashes. Intoxicated or fatigued drivers are not at their best, mentally or physically.

The final type of negligence, environmental negligence, is especially common in Minnesota. Sometimes, driving conditions are very bad, to say the least. Divers have a duty to at least slow down and be more careful during these times. But many drivers ignore this responsibility.

Negligence per se is sometimes available as well. Tortfeasors who violate safety laws, like making an illegal lane change, are liable for damages as a matter of law if they cause crashes. However, emergency responders often do not issue citations in motorcycle wreck claims. They are too busy tending to injured victims and securing the scene to bother with a traffic ticket.

Endgame

Only about 3 percent of negligence cases go to trial. Almost all the rest settle out of court, and in many cases, this settlement happens rather early in the process.

If liability is clear, insurance companies have a duty to settle claims quickly, Frequently, such settlement occurs after a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer sends a demand letter to the insurance company.

Unfortunately, there is almost always at least some question as to liability. The “s/he came out of nowhere” line often involves a legal doctrine called comparative fault. This loophole shifts blame for the accident from the negligent driver to the victim. In this context, insurance company lawyers often argue that the rider was operating recklessly before the crash, and therefore the other driver could not avoid the crash.

So, many motorcycle crash claims settle during mediation. An unaffiliated Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer meets with both sides and tries to facilitate a settlement. Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is usually successful.

Contact a Hard-Hitting Attorney

Motorcycle crash claims are often complex. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

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.

A Brainerd, MN INjury Lawyer Talks About SMIDSY Crashes

In some countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, SMIDSY is an acronym for “Sorry, mate, I didn’t see you.” This phrase captures both the essence of a left-turn motorcycle crash and the cavalier attitude that many tortfeasors (negligent driver) have in the wake of these crashes. More on these things below.

In all motorcycle crash claims, a good Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must do more than obtain compensation for the victim’s injuries. An attorney must also bring justice to the situation. That means holding tortfeasors responsible for the wrecks they cause.

Left Turn Motorcycle Crashes in Crow Wing County

SMIDSY crashes account for at least a third of the motorcycle wrecks in Minnesota. Typically, the tortfeasor waits for a break in oncoming traffic, then the tortfeasor tries to shoot through that gap. Most people keep an active lookout for cars, trucks, and other four-wheel vehicles. But they are not as diligent when it comes to motorcycles. Additionally, it’s hard to see around SUVs and other large vehicles. That fact limits driver visibility even more.

The tortfeasor’s sudden burst of speed often makes SMIDSY crash injuries particularly serious. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Head Injuries: Even if the victim wore a helmet, head injuries are often still an issue. The sudden, violent motion scrambles the brain, just like shaking an egg scrambles the yoke.
  • Broken Bones: The force of the impact usually throws riders off their bikes. When they land, their bones may be crushed and not merely broken. These kinds of injuries often require extensive surgical correction and months of physical rehabilitation.
  • Road Burns: These injuries are normally not as serious as head injuries or broken bones. However, severe road burns often limit mobility for many weeks. And, time is basically the only cure.

Brainerd, MN injury lawyers can obtain compensation for the medical bills that these injuries trigger. Compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, is available as well. Almost all of these claims settle out-of-court.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and Liability Theories

SMIDSY crashes usually involve right-of-way violations. According to Section 169.20 of the Minnesota Statutes, left turn drivers “shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.” Statutory violations like these often give rise to the negligence per se rule. Tortfeasors might be liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They break safety laws, and
  • Those violations substantially cause injury.

Unfortunately, in many situations, emergency responder do not issue these citations, even if fault is relatively clear. The “constitute an immediate hazard” language gives officers some leeway. So, many times, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must look for another way to obtain compensation for victims.

That other way usually involves the ordinary negligence doctrine. Originally, this doctrine was another British import. In 1932’s Donoghue v. Stevenson, the court articulated the neighbor principle. This declaration, which was similar to the Golden Rule that schoolchildren once memorized, stated that people had a legal duty to avoid injuring their neighbors. The neighbor principle eventually became the duty of care.

In court, if tortfeasors violated this duty, and that violation substantially caused injury, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages.

Common Insurance Company Defenses

Formal or informal contributory negligence may be the most common insurance company defenses in SMIDSY crash claims.

If the victim was speeding or made an illegal turn in the moments before the crash, insurance company lawyers almost always raise formal contributory negligence. This doctrine shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. The court must reduce damages in relation to the victim’s fault.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor must still pay a proportionate share of damages.

Informal contributory negligence takes many forms. In these cases, it usually surfaces as the motorcycle prejudice. Many Crow Wing County jurors are not sympathetic to motorcycle riders. In fact, many people believe these riders are reckless thugs.

To defeat the motorcycle prejudice in court, most Brainerd, MN injury lawyers stress that the victim was an exception to the rule. Most riders may be reckless thugs, but this victim was different. Generally, it is rather easy to hate a group, but rather difficult to hate an individual.

Connect with a Diligent Attorney

SMIDSY motorcycle crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.

Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers and Motorcycle Crash Claims

After peaking in the early 1990s, the number of vehicle occupant fatalities has declined recently. But the number of motorcycle fatalities has remained steady over the years. Engineering advances have increased car crash survivability, although the fatality rate is still high. But the motorcycles available in 2020 are not too much different from the ones in showrooms in the 1990s. That’s very bad news for riders.

Motorcycle accident victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. In Minnesota, this compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. However, entitlement is very different from money in your pocket. So, a Buffalo, MN injury lawyer must have a plan of action to help ensure fair compensation.

How Do Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers Gather Facts?

Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in accident cases. They must establish negligence, or another theory, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). More on these theories below.

So, evidence collection is a critical part of a vehicle crash claim. Often, the police accident report is the primary evidence in these situations. Although they are not accident reconstruction professionals, most emergency responders do a good job of collecting evidence at the scene.

But motorcycle crashes are different. Because of the high fatality rate, the report often only contains the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) version of events. And, motorcycle crash reports are often incomplete. Emergency responders are too busy tending to injured victims to concern themselves with evidence collection.

Therefore, a Buffalo, MN injury lawyer must often look elsewhere for evidence in the case. Physical evidence, such as a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder, is often critical. Eyewitnesses often forget key facts or crumble during cross-examination from insurance company lawyers. Other times, a witness simply rubs jurors the wrong way.

Physical evidence in general, and EDR evidence in particular, has none of these flaws. Depending on the vehicle’s make and model, the EDR usually measures and records things like:

  • Steering angle,
  • Brake application,
  • Vehicle speed, and
  • Engine acceleration or deceleration.

These figures are often critical in vehicle collision claims. Additionally, assuming the device was working properly, EDR proof is usually very effective in court. Computers are never wrong and never biased.

Buffalo, MN Injury lawyers must act quickly to preserve electronic evidence. Otherwise, the tortfeasor may “accidentally” destroy it. Wrecked vehicles usually end up in junkyards, where they are broken up for parts and exposed to the elements.

Applicable Law in Motorcycle Accidents

Human error causes about 95 percent of all car accidents in Wright County. This error is not always actionable in court, but that’s generally the case. Some common theories include:

  • Ordinary Negligence: Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. At all times, they must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. Wright County jurors occasionally forgive momentary lapses, but not a pattern of neglect. For example, most jurors would not consider rolling up the window to be a serious infraction. But things are different if the tortfeasor used a device, like a smartphone, in the moments before a crash.
  • Defective Product: As mentioned, faulty tires and other defective products do not cause very many car accidents in Minnesota. However, they do cause some. Typically, manufacturers are strictly liable for damages in these cases. Negligence, or lack thereof, is usually only relevant for damages purposes.
  • Negligence Per Se: Often, the law establishes the standard of care. Drivers have an absolute responsibility to stop at red lights, drive below the speed limit, signal before turning, drive sober, and the list goes on. So, tortfeasors who violate such laws and cause crashes may be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Many times, a third-party liability theory applies as well. For example, in the aforementioned drunk driving claims, the bar, restaurant, or another commercial provider may be responsible for damages. Employer liability is common as well. The respondeat superior doctrine usually applies in Uber driver, truck driver, bus driver, and other commercial operator claims.

Resolving Motorcycle Crash Claims

A Buffalo, MN injury lawyer must do more than collect evidence and advance the proper legal theories. All this work amounts to nothing if an attorney cannot successfully resolve a motorcycle crash claim.

This process begins with setting an appropriate settlement value. That’s the amount of money the victim will accept in exchange for a liability waiver. The amount usually depends on the facts and applicable law, as discussed above. Other factors, such as contributory negligence or another insurance company defense, may come into play as well.

Almost all these claims settle out of court. In fact, many settle before a Buffalo, MN injury lawyer files legal paperwork. However, an early settlement is not always in the victim’s best interests. It’s usually best to wait until all the facts are in and medical treatment is at least substantially complete. Otherwise, the settlement amount may not be fair.

If the claim does go to court, most Wright County judges refer the case to mediation. This negotiation alternative is usually successful, if both parties are willing to make some sacrifices to get a deal done.

Rely on a Dedicated Attorney

Different motorcycle crash victims often go through the same legal process. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.

How do Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers Overcome Motorcycle Crash Defenses?

For the riders, motorcycle-on-vehicle crashes are twenty-eight times more fatal than vehicle-on-vehicle crashes. Exsanguination (blood loss) is usually the official cause of death in these wrecks. The force of the collision usually throws riders off their bikes and slams them into the ground. That motion causes internal organs to bump and grind against each other. The force also causes severe external trauma injuries. As a result, victims are usually on the edge of hypovolemic shock and organ shutdown by the time first responders arrive. At that point, there may be no way to revive the victim.

Substantial compensation may be available in wrongful death and serious injury claims. But insurance companies do not simply give this money away. In fact, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must work hard to overcome some common insurance company defenses.

Your Claim for Damages

Often, a solid damages claim is one of the best ways to overcome insurance company defenses. If the victim/plaintiff’s claim is strong enough, insurance company defenses then look more like insurance company excuses, to many jurors. Successful claims have theoretical and practical elements.

The legal theory is generally ordinary negligence or negligence per se. Ordinary negligence is a lack of care, and negligence per se is the violation of a safety statute. Alcohol, which is a factor in over a third of motorcycle-on-vehicle crashes, is a good example of the difference between these two theories.

If authorities arrest the tortfeasor (negligent driver) for DUI, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages as a matter of law, because of the negligence per se rule. But most people are not legally intoxicated unless they consume several drinks, and driver impairment begins with the first drink. So, in non-DUI claims, victim/plaintiffs must use circumstantial evidence to establish this impairment.

The evidence in alcohol-related collisions includes things like Breathalyzer test results and physical driver symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes, unsteady balance, or erratic driving in the moments before the crash.

Motorcycle Crashes and Contributory Negligence

Comparative fault is probably the most common insurance company defense in Crow Wing County. This doctrine shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim.

Let’s return to the alcohol-involved crash example. If the tortfeasor was slightly impaired and the motorcycle rider was speeding, the insurance company might blame the rider’s excessive velocity for the crash.

Brainerd, MN accident lawyers usually have two opportunities to beat this defense. First, the insurance company must convince the judge that comparative fault may have been a factor. Unless the rider was speeding significantly, perhaps 20mph over the limit, that showing is difficult to make. Second, the insurance company must convince the jury that comparative fault was a factor. The same arguments apply here.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the victim is entitled to a proportionate share of damages.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Last Clear Chance

The last clear chance defense is an offshoot of contributory negligence which often comes up in left-turn, head-on, rear-end, and intersection collision claims.

Both operators have a duty of care, and that duty requires operators to avoid crashes if possible. So, if the rider has a chance to avoid any of these crashes, perhaps by changing speeds or lanes, the rider is legally responsible for the crash if s/he fails to take advantage of that chance.

Once again, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers use two basic arguments to overcome this defense. First, it is much harder to maneuver a two-wheel bike than a four-wheel vehicle. Such emergency maneuvers are even more difficult if traffic, weather, or other conditions are less than ideal. Additionally, the rider must have the last clear chance to avoid the wreck. Many times, these crashes happen so fast that there is no time to react.

The Motorcycle Helmet Defense in Minnesota

This third defense is also an offshoot of contributory negligence. In Minnesota, if riders do not wear helmets, they may be legally responsible for their own injuries. The same thing applies if vehicle occupants were not wearing seat belts.

In both these situations, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must force insurance companies to prove the elements of the motorcycle helmet defense. A doctor must testify that the victim was not wearing a helmet and the failure to wear a helmet substantially caused the victim’s injuries. Many times, it is difficult or impossible to prove these things in court.

Damages in Minnesota motorcycle crash claims usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Since insurance company lawyers aggressively defend motorcycle crash claims, you need an aggressive Brainerd, MN accident lawyer from Carlson & Jones, P.A. on your side. Call us now for a free consultation.

Motorcycle Crashes, Maximum Compensation, Motorcycle History, and Brainerd Attorneys

One of the most infamous wrecks in motorcycle history still has some important lessons in terms of obtaining maximum compensation.

British Army Officer T.E. Lawrence, who is better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was one of the most famous World War I commanders. In 1935, he was killed in a motorcycle crash which remains controversial. Some say that he swerved to avoid a boy on a bicycle and lost control of his 998cc Brough Superior. Others say that a reckless driver ran him off the road. Unfortunately, before anyone had a chance to look at the physical evidence, authorities loaded the wrecked bike onto a truck and hauled it to the dump.

All these years later, a quick and diligent investigation is still critical for Brainerd attorneys. Without examining the scene, it’s impossible to develop a theory of the case. And without evidence, it’s impossible to prove negligence.

Theory of the Case

Driver error causes almost all vehicle wrecks. Tire blowouts and other manufacturing defects only cause a few wrecks, and acts of nature, like lightning strikes, cause even fewer. That error usually involves either ordinary negligence or negligence per se.

Just before Lawrence’s final motorcycle ride, a court decided Donoghue v. Stevenson. This case is the foundation of modern negligence law. The court famously concluded that people had a responsibility to avoid injury to their “neighbors.” The neighbor principle later became the duty of reasonable care.

Noncommercial drivers have a duty to obey the rules of the road, both the written and unwritten ones, and a duty to drive defensively. Commercial operators, like Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and bus drivers, have a higher duty of care. So, it is usually easier to prove negligence in commercial operator cases.

Negligence per se is the violation of a statute. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They violate a safety law and
  • That violation substantially causes injury.

Device distraction illustrates the difference between these two concepts. A new hands-free law just took effect in Minnesota in August 2019. This law prohibits holding and using a phone for any purpose, other than GPS navigation. It’s still illegal to enter an address on such a device or manipulate the screen while driving.

The new law does not prohibit hands-free devices. But these devices may be more dangerous than hand-held devices. Hands-free devices are still distracting. Operators who use them take theie eyes off the road and take their minds off driving. Additionally, hands-free devices give some operators a false sense of security.

Brainerd Attorneys and Proving Negligence

So, the citation issued, if any, goes a long way toward establishing liability for damages. In some cases, that may be the only thing necessary. But in most cases, Brainerd attorneys must collect additional evidence.

Sometimes, this proof is readily available. For example, a Brainerd Attorney can cut through red tape and obtain a copy of a police accident report in only minutes. But this report is sometimes incomplete or inaccurate, especially if the victim was seriously injured or killed. In these situations, the critical report narrative only contains the tortfeasor’s side of the story. Since the fatality rate is so high in motorcycle crashes, these situations are common in this context.

Therefore, additional evidence is often critical. To examine this issue more closely, let’s stay with the device distraction example. Additional evidence in device distraction cases may include:

  • Web browsing logs,
  • Text message records,
  • Call logs, and
  • App usage records.

The tortfeasor can destroy all this evidence with just a few touches. To preserve it, a Brainerd Attorney must quickly send a spoliation letter. This letter directs the tortfeasor to preserve any potential physical evidence in the case, including the aforementioned items.

Insurance Company Defenses

Especially in motorcycle crashes, contributory negligence is probably the most common insurance company defense. This legal doctrine shifts responsibility for the crash from the victim to the tortfeasor.

For example, the insurance company might admit that the tortfeasor was using a hands-free phone and therefore distracted. But lawyers might accuse the victim of darting in and out of traffic while riding, thus making illegal lane changes. Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 50 percent bar. So, as long as the victim was no more than 50 percent responsible for the crash, the victim still receives a proportionate share of damages.

The assumption of the risk defense sometimes comes up in motorcycle crashes, if the victim wasn’t wearing a helmet. This defense basically states that people are responsible for their own injuries if they ignore a known risk.

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

Connect with a Thorough Lawyer

A diligent investigation often improves the end result. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Left Turn Motorcycle Crashes

Assume Doug Defendant is waiting to make a left turn against traffic on a main street, so he can get to a neighborhood street. Traffic is rather heavy and Doug must wait several seconds. But to him, the wait time seems like several hours. So, when he thinks he sees an upcoming break in oncoming traffic, Doug gets ready to turn quickly and speed through the gap.

But Doug does not see Peter Plaintiff, who is approaching on his motorcycle. So, Doug suddenly accelerates and crosses directly into Peter’s path. The force of the sudden impact propels Peter off his bike, and emergency responders rush him to a nearby hospital before he regains consciousness.

This scenario plays out frequently on Crow Wing County streets. According to one estimate, over a third of all motorcycle crashes are left turn collisions.

Motorcycle Crash Injuries

Because of the negligence of drivers like Doug, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these claims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Due to the nature of motorcycle crash injuries, compensation is usually substantial in these claims. Some typical injuries include:

  • Head Injuries: Even if the rider was wearing a helmet, these wounds are very common in motorcycle crash cases. Helmets do not protect against motion and noise-related head injuries. So, whether the victim wore a helmet or not, compensation for head injuries is usually available.
  • Internal Bleeding: The same forces that throw riders off their bikes also cause internal organs to smash against one another. As a result, these organs often bleed profusely, and emergency responders usually cannot stop this bleeding. So, many victims are on the brink of hypovolemic shock by the time they get to a hospital.
  • Spine Injuries: When victims hit the ground, even if they do not fall on their backs, they usually knock their spines out of alignment. Even if doctors treat these injuries quickly, permanent paralysis is a distinct possibility in these situations.

Head and spine injuries are among the most costly personal injuries. The medical expenses may be as high as $1 million the first year alone, and $4 million over the course of a lifetime.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Legal Issues in Left-Turn Crashes

Legally, Doug’s failure to see Peter and his failure to yield the right-of-way to Peter clearly constitute negligence. In this context, negligence is basically a lack of ordinary care. Most Minnesota drivers must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. Doug came up short in both these areas.

The insurance company could argue that Doug’s shortcomings were just momentary lapses which did not constitute a breach of care. But a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer could easily convince a jury otherwise, in light of all the facts. However, insurance company lawyers may have another trick or two up their sleeves.

If emergency responders gave Doug a citation, the negligence per se rule makes it easier for Peter to establish negligence. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate safety laws and cause crashes are usually responsible for damages as a matter of law.

But first responders rarely issue citations in left-turn motorcycle crashes, even if the crash kills the rider. Since Peter was unconscious and unable to give his side of the story, Doug may have been able to talk his way out of a ticket.

In court, the last clear chance defense often comes up in left turn crash claims. Insurance company lawyers argue that riders could have changed speeds or changed lanes to avoid the crash, but they did not do so. Therefore, they are legally responsible for their own injuries.

However, in most instances, including our hypothetical crash, the last clear chance rule does not apply. Since traffic was heavy, Peter probably did not have enough room to swerve or brake quickly. If he did one of those things, he might have caused a more serious wreck than the one he prevented.

Moreover, motorcycles are a lot harder to control than four-wheel vehicles. That’s especially true if environmental or other conditions are less than ideal.

Resolving Motorcycle Crash Claims

Generally, civil claims settle out of court. The settlement process begins when a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer ascertains a fair settlement value. Economic losses are usually straightforward. To calculate noneconomic losses, most Brainerd, MN accident lawyers multiply the economic losses by two or four, depending on the facts of the case and some other factors.

The settlement process usually ends at mediation. If both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is successful about 75 percent of the time.

Rely on a Dedicated Attorney

Left turn motorcycle crashes are often horrific. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several area offices to serve you better.

Motorcycle Crash Settlements and Brainerd Attorneys

Most motorcycle injury claims do not go to trial. In fact, about 95 percent of these matters settle out of court. If the crash involved wrongful death and the issues are crystal clear, settlement usually occurs within a few weeks. But in most situations, the victim is hospitalized with severe injuries and/or there is some question as to liability. So, in most cases, settlement may take several months.

This window of time gives Brainerd attorneys a chance to build a solid claim, based on the laws and the facts. Such claims greatly increase the odds of fair compensation. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

Sadly, many motorcycle crash victims do not survive. Since riders are almost completely exposed to danger, the fatality rate among motorcyclists is about thirty times greater than the fatality rate for enclosed vehicle occupants. Some serious, life-threatening injuries include:

  • Neck and Spine Wounds: The force of the impact almost always throws riders off their bikes. The sudden, jarring motion alone is enough to cause a serious injury. If victims land on their backs, these injuries are even worse. These kinds of injuries often generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency treatment and physical therapy costs.
  • Exsanguination: Excessive blood loss is usually the official cause of death in these cases. That same jarring motion causes internal organs to bump against one another in a violent manner. As a result, many victims lose so much blood that they are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders arrive.
  • Biker’s Arm: When riders fall, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls, This reaction often causes permanent nerve injuries to the brachial plexus. While not immediately life-threatening, this degenerative condition often causes significant complications.

Because of all these serious injuries, immediate medical care is very important. But many health insurance companies do not cover accident-related expenses.

So, Brainerd attorneys send letters of protection to medical providers. Since these letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved, medical providers charge nothing upfront for their services. Additionally, these letters give Brainerd attorneys negotiating leverage to lower the amount due.

Immediate medical attention also helps the victim’s damage claim. If the victim does not see a doctor straightaway, the insurance company usually claims the victim’s injuries must not have been very bad, or at least not very painful. This claim, if proved, may reduce the compensation in the case.

Brainerd Attorneys and Your Claim for Damages

This compensation is available if the other driver was negligent. This legal concept is more than carelessness or thoughtlessness. Negligence means a lack of ordinary care. In many cases, negligence is closely linked to one of the five types of driving impairment:

  • Alcohol: This substance causes about a third of the fatal crashes in Crow Wing County. Alcohol impairs both judgment ability and motor skills.
  • Fatigue: Drowsiness has a similar effect on the brain and body. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level.
  • Drugs: Both illegal substances, like cocaine or marijuana, and legal substances, like Sominex or prescription painkillers, may cause drug impairment. In many jurisdictions, “drugged” drivers cause more fatal crashes than “drunk” drivers.
  • Medical Condition: Epilepsy, heart disease, and other such chronic conditions may cause sudden loss of consciousness when drivers are behind the wheel.
  • Distraction: Legally, drivers are distracted when they take their hands off the wheel, take their eyes off the road, and/or take their minds off driving. So, distracted driving includes many activities that most people do on every trip, such as using a hands-free cellphone or eating while driving.

In other instances, operational negligence is an issue. Failure to maintain a proper lookout is a very good example. A significant number of vehicle-motorcycle crashes are left turn crashes. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) does not see an oncoming motorcycle, so when the tortfeasor makes a left turn against traffic, the tortfeasor crosses directly into the rider’s path.

The Settlement Process

Based on the victim’s injuries and the claim for damages, Brainerd attorneys calculate a case’s settlement value. This monetary amount serves as a starting point for pretrial negotiations with the insurance company.

As mentioned above, complex cases never settle right away. Typically, these matters go to mediation. Both sides work with a mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Brainerd attorney. After hearing from both sides, the mediator uses shuttle diplomacy to transmit offers and counter-offers back and forth. If both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is usually successful.

Work with Diligent Lawyers

Motorcycle crash claims usually settle on favorable terms, but they may not settle immediately. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have four area office locations.

Call For A Free Consultation (877) 344-1555Free Consultation

Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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

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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

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