Motorcycle Crash Defenses and Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers

When four-wheel vehicles are involved in collisions, multiple restraint layers protect the people inside. But when motorcycles are involved in crashes, the victims have almost no protection. So, motorcycle riders are thirty times more likely to die in these incidents. In fact, in many motorcycle-vehicle collisions, the vehicle occupants are uninjured and the motorcycle rider is nearly killed.

In catastrophic injury cases like these, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers work hard to obtain compensation for both economic and economic damages. Typically, this compensation is substantial. Most motorcycle wrecks involve head, spine, or neck wounds. These injuries are very expensive to diagnose, treat, and recover from. Due to the nature of these injuries, motorcycle crash victims must also endure significant pain and suffering, often for many months.

Since so much is at stake, insurance company lawyers often pull out all the stops to reduce or deny compensation. Some of the more common defenses are outlined below.

Contributory Negligence

The comparative fault doctrine affects may vehicle Crow Wing County vehicle collision claims, especially those wrecks which occur in or near intersections. Essentially, contributory negligence shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim.

Assume the motorcycle rider is lane-splitting. It’s illegal to ride between the lanes in Minnesota, and dangerous to do it anywhere. At the same time, the tortfeasor changes lanes without signaling or looking. If a crash occurs, and it probably will, emergency responders will have a hard time determining fault. Both operators drove illegally.

In that scenario, emergency responders almost always side with the tortfeasor. The motorcycle prejudice, which is outlined below, is partly to blame. Perhaps more importantly, if the victim was killed or seriously injured, emergency responders usually only hear the tortfeasor’s side of the story.

So, even if emergency responders gave you a ticket, you should always reach out to a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer. Since there is a difference between fault for the collision and liability for damages, an attorney can still obtain the compensation you need and deserve.

Brainerd, MN injury lawyers typically have two chances to debunk the contributory negligence defense. First, the judge must allow the defense. For example, if our fictional victim was really riding side-by-side, which is legal in Minnesota, a judge may not allow the defense. Second, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer can minimize the victim’s responsibility before the jury and emphasize the tortfeasor’s responsibility.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash in the eyes of the jury, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages.

Last Clear Chance

This defense, which is another example of the fault vs. liability issue, often comes up in left-turn crashes. Statistically, about a third of motorcycle crashes fall into this category. A tortfeasor tries to make a left turn against traffic, does not see an oncoming motorcycle, and turns directly into the rider’s path.

In these situations, if the motorcyclist had a chance to avoid the collision but failed to do so, the rider is legally responsible for the crash.

That chance could be changing lanes quickly or slowing down suddenly. But these maneuvers are much harder to perform on a motorcycle. Often, even experienced riders lose control of their bikes in these cases. That loss of control may cause a more serious crash. Additionally, traffic conditions often do not allow unpredictable movements.

So, despite insurance company efforts, this defense usually does not apply in motorcycle crash cases. The bottom line is that the victim must have the last clear chance, as opposed to any possible chance.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and the Motorcycle Prejudice

Many Crow Wing County jurors are more willing to embrace doctrines like contributory negligence because of the motorcycle prejudice. Lots of people believe bikers are rebels who have little or no consideration for other people on the road. This feeling is not as strong as it was back in the 1970s and 1980s, but it is still deep and wide.

Unlike comparative fault and last clear chance, the motorcycle prejudice is not in any law book. But it is real, and Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must be ready to deal with it.

One of the best ways to defeat the motorcycle prejudice, or any other prejudice for that matter, is to separate the individual from the group. It’s rather easy to hate a group, but it’s very difficult to hate an individual. This approach also does not offend juror sensibilities.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Motorcycle crash victims are entitled to substantial compensation, but there are substantial obstacles. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

Motorcycle Crashes, the Contrubutory Negligence Defense, and Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers

In 2016, motorcycle miles traveled hit almost a ten-year low, but the fatality rate was at a ten-year high. So, now more than ever, motorcycle riders risk serious injury every time they pull out of the garage.

A Buffalo, MN injury lawyer knows how to obtain needed compensation for these injury victims. This compensation includes money for medical bills, lost wages, and other economic damages. Accident victims need money to put their lives back together, and this money should not come out of their own bank accounts. Injury compensation usually also includes money for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Generally, all of these settlement funds are tax-free.

Since so much is at stake, insurance company lawyers pull out all the stops in an effort to deny fair compensation. The contributory negligence doctrine is one of the most common defenses in these cases.

The Contributory Negligence Defense: An Overview

Essentially, this doctrine shifts blame for the crash from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. Even if emergency responders gave the tortfeasor a ticket, this legal defense may still apply. There is a difference between fault for the crash and liability for damages.

Most people cannot drive more than three or four blocks without violating at least one traffic law. For example, the tortfeasor might have been intoxicated and the victim may have made an illegal lane change. This defense is also common in “who had the light” intersection crashes. In these situations, if the Wright County judge determines that the defense is available, the jury must apportion liability between the two parties. More on that below.

Laws vary by jurisdiction. Minnesota, like most other states, is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, if the tortfeasor was at least 51 percent responsible for the crash, the victim receives a proportional share of damages. If the responsibility is below 51 percent, a Minnesota motorcycle crash victim receives nothing. In contrast, nearby Missouri is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction. In the Show-Me State, even if the victim is 99 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor must still pay a proportional share of damages.

Comparative Fault and Motorcycle Crashes

Vehicle weight is a consideration here. If a large pickup truck or SUV rolls through a stop sign, that action has a tremendous effect on the outcome of the crash. However, if a lightweight scooter or motorcycle does not completely stop, the crash probably would have happened anyway.

On a related point, degree of violation is also important to Buffalo, MN injury lawyers. Legally, blowing past a stop sign at full speed is the same as a California stop (failure to stop completely). But in a negligence case, these two acts are very different.

Failure to wear a motorcycle helmet may be a form of comparative fault as well. Minnesota’s motorcycle helmet law only applies to riders under 18 or riders with only learners’ permits. Nevertheless, the insurance company could argue that the lack of a helmet contributed to the victim’s injuries, especially if the victim sustained a head injury. Theoretically, the 51 percent bar would apply.

But hold on a minute. Minnesota law bars the seat belt defense, which is a similar concept. Insurance companies cannot blame vehicle occupants for their own injuries if they were not wearing seat belts. By extension, the same prohibition should apply to motorcycle helmet non-use.

Additionally, not wearing a helmet has nothing to do with the cause of the crash, which is the gravamen of a contributory negligence claim.

Two Ways that Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers Overcome the Contributory Negligence Defense

Insurance company lawyers are not always entitled to bring up the contributory negligence. First, these lawyers must convince the Wright County judge that the defense applies as a matter of law. The aforementioned California stop situation is a good illustration. In these cases, the judge may well find that the victim’s contributory negligence was so slight that it did not affect the crash.

Second, the jury must apportion fault based on the facts. This second step presents a problem for Buffalo, MN injury lawyers. Many Wright County jurors believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs, so they are more willing to embrace the contributory negligence defense. Nevertheless, it’s usually possible to emphasize all the good things that the victim did just before the crash and also bring up positive things in the victim’s background.

Count on Effective Attorneys

Motorcycle crash victims may be entitled to substantial compensation, if they can avoid insurance company defenses. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.

What on Earth is a SMIDSY Crash?

In some parts of the world, this acronym stands for Sorry, Mate, I Didn’t See You. Another commonly-used abbreviation, TBFTL for “Turned But Failed To Look,” does not have the same je ne sais quoi.

Additionally, SMIDSY captures both the cause of the motorcycle crash and the cavalier attitude that many tortfeasors (negligent drivers) have in the wake of these crashes. Most bikers who have gone down probably heard the tortfeasor say something like “You came out of nowhere” or “I never saw you.” These excuses imply that the rider was operating recklessly. But in most cases, the tortfeasor simply was not paying attention.

In these cases, a Brainerd motorcycle crash lawyer can obtain both compensation and justice. Since these collisions often cause catastrophic injuries, like wrongful death, victims need money to put their lives back together. These victims also need justice. A car crash settlement is basically a legal declaration that the other driver was at fault.

Your Claim for Damages

Here in the United States, SMIDSY crashes may be more common than they are overseas. According to the landmark Hurt Report, illegal left turns cause about a third of the motorcycle crashes in Minnesota.

Typically, when a driver makes a left turn against traffic, the driver suddenly accelerates through a slight traffic gap. Unfortunately, most drivers do not look for motorcycles. As a result, they often suddenly accelerate directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.

Motorcycle riders often use a few tricks to increase their visibility, such as weaving inside their lane or honking their horns. But there is very little evidence that these tricks work. Moreover, they may further anger other motorists who do not like motorcycle riders very much in the first place. More on that below.

When a 4,000-plus pound vehicle slams into a 400-pound motorcycle at a very high speed, the rider is almost always very seriously injured. Some of these wounds include:

  • Head Injuries: Motorcycle helmets prevent some, but not all, trauma-related head injuries. Additionally, helmets offer no protection against motion-related head injuries. The force of the impact usually throws riders off their bikes. When that happens, their brains slam against the insides of their skulls.
  • Road Burns: These deep and wide abrasions are not life-threatening. However, they are extremely painful and they greatly restrict mobility. Moreover, there is little any doctor can do to treat these injuries. Time is pretty much the only cure.
  • Biker’s Arm: When bikers fall off their motorcycles, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls. When their arms hit the ground, the impact often causes permanent nerve damage to the brachial plexus area.

These wounds, and others like them, often trigger tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills. A Brainerd motorcycle accident lawyer can make sure these bills get paid on time. Additional compensation is available for intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.

Brainerd Motorcycle Crash Lawyers and Defenses in Civil Claims

When a car cust in front of a motorcycle, insurance company lawyers often raise the last clear chance defense. If the victim had a reasonable chance to avoid the crash but did not do so, the victim, and not the tortfeasor, is legally responsible for the wreck. That’s true even if the tortfeasor received a ticket or was faulted for the accident.

Typically, however, these incidents happen so fast that the motorcycle rider could not avoid the wreck. As mentioned, the tortfeasor often suddenly accelerates in the moments before the crash. Additionally, it’s very difficult to perform evasive maneuvers on a motorcycle. If they attempt them, most people will lose control of their bikes and cause an even worse crash.

If the victim was not wearing a helmet, or not wearing it the right way, insurance company lawyers usually raise the motorcycle helmet defense as well. This doctrine states that bikers who do not wear helmets are responsible for their own injuries.

In Minnesota, the motorcycle helmet defense is extremely complex. State law prohibits the so-called seat belt defense. Insurance company lawyers cannot use seat belt non-use to reduce compensation in car crash cases. But there’s no similar law regarding motorcycle helmets. And, Minnesota has a mandatory helmet law.

Victims have no duty to mitigate (voluntarily reduce) their damages before a crash. So, motorcycle helmet use is arguably irrelevant. However, a Brainerd motorcycle crash lawyer must be prepared to argue this point in court.

Contact an Aggressive Attorney

SMIDSY motorcycle crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd motorcycle crash lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Top Three Insurance Company Defenses in Motorcycle Crash Claims

As the calendar inches toward spring, more motorcycles will be out and about in and around Brainerd. One would think that there is safety in numbers, but in this context, that’s normally not the case. There is a saying among area riders that there are only two kinds of bikers: Those who have gone down and those who will go down.

Because bikers are almost completely exposed to danger in these cases, they may be entitled to substantial compensation for their serious injuries. Because the stakes are so high, big insurance company hire high-priced lawyers to fight these claims tooth and nail. In that environment, victims need a tough Brainerd injury lawyer to level the playing field.

There is a big difference here. Top Brainerd injury lawyers repeatedly employ proven methods that get results. But insurance company lawyers keep trying the same legal loopholes, even though they hardly ever work. Albert Einstein supposedly said that “the definition of insanity is repeating the same process and expecting different results.” That does not mean insurance company lawyers are insane, but it does mean the approaches they use in motorcycle crash claims are often ineffective.

Last Clear Chance

This legal loophole is usually the first line of defense. If it applies, the last clear chance doctrine completely excuses negligence conduct in vehicle collision cases.

In vehicle collision claims, the last clear chance doctrine often comes up in head-on crash claims. Assume Stan drifts over the center line and hits Ollie, who is in the other lane traveling in the opposite direction. The police accident report will almost certainly blame Stan for the crash. But if Ollie could have avoided the wreck, perhaps by changing lanes, and he did not do so, he is legally responsible for the collision.

Roughly a third of motorcycle crash claims involve that same scenario. Often, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) attempts a left turn against traffic and moves directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. Many insurance company lawyers claim that the rider could have avoided the crash, perhaps by slamming on the brakes or suddenly changing lanes.

But as all good Brainerd injury lawyers know, there is a big difference between controlling a four-wheel vehicle and controlling a motorcycle. Cars and trucks can make emergency maneuvers, like sudden stops or quick lane changes. But even experienced motorcycle riders often lose control of their bikes if they attempt these things. That’s especially true if the road is wet, the pavement is uneven, or there are any other adverse environmental circumstances.

The heart of the last clear chance defense is that the victim had a reasonable and practical opportunity to avoid the crash, and not just a theoretical chance. So, in most motorcycle crash cases, the last clear chance defense does not apply.

Contributory Negligence

If the last clear chance loophole does not work, insurance company lawyers typically try the contributory negligence defense. This doctrine is probably the most commonly used defense in vehicle collision cases.

Let’s return to the Stan/Ollie example and modify the facts a bit. Assume that Stan crossed the center line as before, but also assume that Ollie was speeding. A Brainerd injury lawyer could argue that Ollie’s excessive velocity contributed significantly to the crash. If Ollie was moving slower, this argument goes, he would have had time to avoid Stan.

Theoretically, the same thing could apply in a left-turn motorcycle crash. But remember that motorcycles are harder to control than four-wheel vehicles. So, even if the rider sped or made an illegal lane change in the moments before a crash, it probably would not have mattered. The rider could do nothing to stop the wreck.

Contributory negligence is usually a fallback because Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the wreck, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages. In other words, at best, contributory negligence usually only reduces the amount of compensation the tortfeasor must pay.

Motorcycle Prejudice

If their first two defenses are unsuccessful, many insurance company lawyers get desperate. In their desperation, they appeal to the base instincts of Crow Wing County jurors. In this instance, that’s the motorcycle prejudice.

Assume Ollie, who was the victim in the Stan/Ollie crash, rode a Harley-Davidson, wore a leather jacket, and lead a motorcycle riding club. Insurance company lawyers might try to portray Ollie as a reckless thug who had little regard for fellow motorists.

Back in the heyday of the Hell’s Angels, the motorcycle prejudice usually worked pretty well. Recent violent incidents like this one reinforce that stereotype.

However, the motorcycle prejudice is not nearly as strong now as it was back in the day. Once the jury understands the facts (e.g. Harleys have loud mufflers to improve their visibility and bikers wear leather jackets for protection), they are less likely to fall under the sway of the motorcycle prejudice. Come to think of it, the same thing applies to most other kinds of prejudice as well.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Motorcycle crashes often raise complex legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Should I Call a Buffalo Motorcycle Crash Lawyer?

As the calendar inches toward spring, there will be more motorcycle riders on the road. The number of riders has increased significantly since 2008. The number of motorcycle crashes has increased commensurately, and in many cases, these crashes cause catastrophic injuries.

Consequently, many motorcycle crash victims may work with a Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer and obtain significant compensation. If the victim sustained a serious injury, that compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Minnesota law generally defines a “serious injury” as one that involves more than $4,000 in medical bills.

What Causes Motorcycle Crashes?

Driver inattention causes about a third of the motorcycle crashes in Minnesota. Left turns are a particular hazard. In many cases, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) waits to make a left turn against traffic, shoots through a supposed gap in traffic, and turns directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.

When these crashes happen, the tortfeasor typically says something like the motorcycle rider “came out of nowhere.” That phrase usually means that the tortfeasor was not maintaining a proper lookout.

Nevertheless, these incidents sometimes give rise to the last clear chance defense, so a Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer should be ready for this legal loophole. If the motorcycle rider had a reasonable chance to avoid a head-on collision, perhaps by changing lanes, the rider is legally responsible for the crash if s/he failed to take advantage of that chance.

This defense is normally inapplicable in motorcycle crash cases. It is almost impossible to maneuver a motorcycle in an emergency. Even experienced riders may lose control, causing a far worse crash.

Alcohol causes almost half of the motorcycle crashes in Wright County. Just one sip of alcohol impairs judgment and slows reflexes, significantly increasing the risk of a crash.

Alcohol-related motorcycle crashes often involve dram shop liability. Under Minnesota law, grocery stores, bars, convenience stores, restaurants, and other commercial alcohol providers may be liable for damages if their impaired patrons negligently injure someone else. Minnesota Statutes section 340A.801 applies if the sale was illegal. Such transactions include:

  • Minors,
  • After-hours sales, and
  • Sales to obviously intoxicated persons.

Third party liability theories like this one are especially important in catastrophic injury situations. Minnesota has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. So, many tortfeasors do not have sufficient coverage to fully compensate the victim/plaintiff. Vicarious liability theories give these individuals an additional source of recovery.

Motorcycle Crash Injuries

Many motorcycle crashes do involve catastrophic injuries. In fact, motorcycle riders are twenty-eight times more likely to die in a crash than vehicle occupants. Some common injuries include:

  • Internal Bleeding: Typically, vehicle-on-motorcycle collisions throw the rider off the bike. When that happens, internal organs bump and grind against one another. Since these organs have no protective skin, the bleeding is often intense. Typically, the victim is on the verge of hypovolemic shock and organ shut-down before emergency responders even arrive.
  • Head Injuries: Motorcycle helmets prevent some forms of head injuries. But they do not protect against neck injuries. Furthermore, helmets do not prevent motion-related head injuries. Just like a person can scramble an egg just by shaking it, a sudden violent motion can scramble the brain.
  • Broken Bones: Even if they are not life-threatening, these injuries are often debilitating. Typically, doctors must use metal pins or screws to set the bone. As a result, the victim must undergo extensive physical therapy to regain lost function.

Injuries like these demand immediate medical attention. But many health insurance companies do not pay for MVC (Motor Vehicle Collision) losses. Fortunately, a Buffalo motorcycle crash attorney can usually arrange for medical care at no upfront cost. Later, an attorney can also negotiate with the provider for a lower fee. As a result, the victim keeps more of the settlement money.

How Buffalo Motorcycle Crash Lawyers Obtain Maximum Compensation

The last clear chance defense may not be effective in most of these cases. However, the insurance company still has some tricks up its sleeve.

Contributory negligence is one of these tricks. This doctrine shifts blame for the crash from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, the insurance company might admit that the tortfeasor was drunk, but point out that the motorcycle rider was speeding.

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

Comparative fault is often easier to prove in motorcycle crash cases, due to the motorcycle prejudice. This mentality is not as strong as it was, but it is still pervasive. Many Wright County jurors believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs.

Understanding the motorcycle prejudice may be the key to overcoming it. In most cases, it is fairly easy to hate a group, such as motorcycle riders, white people, Democrats, or whatever. But it is much harder to hate an individual. So, a Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer might emphasize the victim’s good character, to separate the victim from the prejudice.

Reach Out to Experienced Attorneys

Motorcycle crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

Brainerd Accident Lawyers and Motorcycle Crashes

Vehicle collisions kill or seriously injure millions of people each year. Yet for the most part, today’s cars are much safer than they were at the turn of the 21st century. In fact, car crashes are no longer far and away the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Many years, that dubious distinction belongs to unintentional poisonings (mostly drug overdoses).

But the technological advances that have made cars safer have not extended to motorcycles. As a result, motorcycle riders are thirty times more likely to die in car crashes. These victims simply have little or no protection from an oncoming car. That exposure usually means serious injury and even wrongful death.

Due to the serious nature of their injuries, motorcycle crash victims, and their families, are usually entitled to substantial compensation.

What Causes Motorcycle Crashes?

Illegal turns cause about a third of the motorcycle crashes in Brainerd. When most people make left turns against traffic, they wait for a brief traffic gap and then shoot through that gap. Many times, they simply do not look for motorcycles before turning.

In certain parts of the world, people call these incidents SMIDSY crashes, for “sorry, mate, I didn’t see you.” Another common acronym, TBFTL for turned but failed to look, does not have the same panache. Additionally, it does not capture the cavalier attitude that many tortfeasors (negligent drivers) exhibit in these situations. Many tortfeasors blame riders for these crashes. The other driver often says something like “you came out of nowhere.”

Brainerd accident lawyers also handle a significant number of alcohol impairment motorcycle crashes. Alcohol impairs judgment. So, impaired tortfeasors often miscalculate the amount of space between their vehicles and oncoming motorcycles. This misjudgment often has tragic consequences.

Distracted driving is often an issue as well. Small motorcycles are almost invisible to many motorists. Making matters worse, many people drive large pickup trucks and SUVs. These vehicles are difficult to see around, especially if the tortfeasor was not really maintaining a proper lookout in the first place. When the driver says the motorcycle rider “came out of nowhere,” Brainers accident lawyers know that it’s because the tortfeasor was not really looking.

Excessive speed also causes many motorcycle crashes. Velocity increases the risk of a collision and also the force in a collision. Since motorcycle riders have no steel cages or restraint systems to protect them, a slight increase in force usually has devastating consequences.

The Damages that Brainerd Accident Lawyers can Obtain

Compensation is available if the victim/plaintiff can connect the inattention, impairment, or other negligence to the injuries sustained in the crash. These injuries often include:

  • Head Injuries: Crash helmets reduce, but do not eliminate, trauma head injuries. Given the massive forces in these crashes, such injuries are still quite likely. Moreover, much like whiplash in an auto accident, the motion alone can cause a serious head or neck injury.
  • Internal Injuries: These same forces cause internal organs to rub against each other. This friction usually causes significant blood loss. Sometimes, this blood loss continues unabated for quite some time. Emergency responders are understandably more concerned with head injuries and other external trauma injuries.
  • Exsanguination: Blood loss is the technical cause of death in many Brainerd motorcycle crash cases, largely because of the aforementioned internal injuries. In fact, many motorcycle crash victims lose so much blood that they are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time help arrives.

The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in these cases. So, Brainerd accident lawyers must have evidence of negligence. Sometimes, that evidence involves the police accident report. But in most motorcycle crash cases, such reports only contain one side of the story. The victim is usually unavailable to make a statement due to serious injury or death.

Therefore, Brainerd accident lawyers must look for other evidence as well. Nearby surveillance video is often compelling. The Crow Wing County jury sees the crash unfold. Furthermore, most cars have Event Data Recorders. EDR data usually clearly shows that the tortfeasor made no effort to avoid the crash. These gadgets are also useful in speeding cases. They offer definitive proof of vehicle velocity.

Possible Insurance Company Defenses

If the victim was not wearing a helmet, the insurance company often jumps on this fact. In fact, many victims think helmetless victims are ineligible for compensation. But that’s not true.

Minnesota law specifically outlaws the so-called seat belt defense. Lack of a seat belt is inadmissible in a negligence case. A seat belt has nothing to do with the cause of the crash. Arguably, the same is true of a helmet. Helmetlessness has nothing to do with crash causation.

At worst, lack of a helmet usually only reduces the amount of compensation that the victim/plaintiff receives. Even then, insurance company lawyers have a hard time proving that such a reduction is warranted.

Another common insurance company defense is not rooted in the law. Instead, the motorcycle prejudice is an attitude that many jurors exhibit. During jury selection, it’s usually easy to see which jurors, if any, believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs. It’s important for Brainerd accident lawyers to keep these individuals off the jury, if at all possible. These individuals are more likely to embrace other insurance company defenses, like contributory negligence.

The contributory negligence defense basically shifts blame onto the victim. For example, the insurance company might admit that the tortfeasor was speeding, but insist that the victim’s alcohol intoxication really caused the crash.

Contact a Relentless Attorney

Motorcycle crashes usually involve intricate legal and factual issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

Special Issues in Buffalo Motorcycle Accidents

As the calendar inches closer and closer to spring, more and more motorcycles will dot the roadways in and around Buffalo. Motorcycle-vehicle collisions are all too common in Minnesota, mostly due to a lack of visibility. In fact, according to the landmark Hurt Report, over a third of these incidents are left-turn crashes. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) turns directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.

The actual number of these crashes may be higher. When the Hurt report was published, most people drove small passenger cars and low-profile station wagons. Today, many people drive large SUVs and pickup trucks. These kinds of vehicles restrict driver visibility even further.

Lack of Visibility and Buffalo Motorcycle Accidents

Most experienced bikers know that they should always assume that the other vehicles on the road do not see them. For the most part, that’s very true. To improve their visibility while riding, many riders implement some of these tips:

  • Weave slightly inside your lane,
  • Ride with your headlight on at all times,
  • Alter your muffler to make your bike a little louder,
  • Wear bright reflective helmets, or
  • Honk your horn every six or eight blocks.

These are all very common-sense suggestions. Unfortunately, there is almost no evidence that supports any of them. Furthermore, behaviors like weaving and honking may only antagonize Minnesota drivers who do not particularly like motorcycle riders in the first place. This motorcycle prejudice often comes into play in these cases, as outlined below.

Speed often makes the problem worse. And much like invisibility, motorcycle riders have no control over vehicle speeds in Buffalo. Velocity decreases reaction time. At 30mph, most vehicles travel about six car lengths between the time the driver sees a hazard and safely stops the car. At 60mph, stopping distance triples to eighteen car lengths.

Many people who make left turns against traffic accelerate suddenly to shoot through gaps between cars. So, the tortfeasor is driving at nearly full speed at the moment of impact.

Injuries in Buffalo Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle-vehicle wrecks in Buffalo almost always involve very serious injuries. The fatality rate among motorcycle riders is twenty-six times higher than the fatality rate for vehicle occupants. Unlike vehicle occupants, motorcycle riders have no restraint systems or steel cages to protect them in the event of a car crash. So, they often sustain serious injuries, including:

  • Head Injuries: The force of these collisions almost always throws riders off their bikes. If they land on their heads or necks, serious trauma injuries result. Moreover, the jarring motion by itself is often enough to cause a brain injury. It’s possible to scramble the brain without breaking the skull, just like it’s possible to scramble an egg without breaking the shell.
  • Internal Injuries: That same force causes internal organs to bump and grind together. So, victims lose a lot of blood before first responders arrive. Emergency personnel are usually more concerned with external trauma wounds. So, internal bleeding may continue unchecked for several minutes or hours.
  • Broken Bones: The hard landing often crushes bones as opposed to simply breaking them. Surgeons must use metal pins, plates, or screws to set these bones. After the metal comes out, many victims must endure months of physical therapy to regain lost function.

If the victim/plaintiff sustained a serious injury, compensation in these cases includes money for both monetary damages, such as medical bills, and nonmonetary damages, such as pain and suffering.

Liability Issues

The aforementioned motorcycle prejudice is not as prevalent in a progressive state like Minnesota, but it is still very much alive. Many jurors, especially older jurors, view motorcycle riders as reckless thugs. Therefore, they are more open to some of the defenses that insurance company lawyers often use in these cases.

Often, the tortfeasor makes statements like “I never even saw her” or “He came out of nowhere.” Assertions like this at the accident scene often means the insurance company will run the contributory negligence defense. This doctrine basically shifts blame for the crash onto the victim. For example, the insurance company lawyer may admit that the tortfeasor failed to maintain a proper lookout but argue that the victim’s reckless riding truly caused the crash.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Victims are eligible for a proportional share of damages if the tortfeasor is at least 51 percent responsible for the vehicle collision.

Left-turn collisions often involve the last clear chance defense as well. This legal doctrine excuses liability if the victim had an opportunity to avoid a crash but failed to take advantage of this chance. There are two points to keep in mind. First, evasive maneuvers like sudden lane changes are much more difficult for motorcycle riders than vehicle operators. Second, the victim must have the last clear chance for this defense to apply. That’s not the same thing as the last possible chance.

CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A BUFFALO MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES

Motorcycle crash victims are entitled to significant compensation, but a lawyer must fight hard to get the deserved money. For a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Buffalo, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. An attorney can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.

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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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