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.

Can a Minnesota Personal Injury Attorney Help Brain Injury Victims?

Disabling head injuries are not limited to football players. In fact, over five million Americans live with such injuries. Another party’s negligence, whether it be a sports group or an individual, usually causes these injuries.

As victims struggle to recover from these wounds, insurance companies often pressure them relentlessly to settle their claims. Adjusters know that these victims are experiencing severe financial distress. So, it’s often tempting to take the settlement offer. But victims cannot possibly know if the offers are fair.

As outlined below, a Minnesota personal injury attorney addresses both these concerns. So, victims can focus on their recoveries.

Brain Injury Causes

Motor vehicle collisions cause most brain injuries in Minnesota. These incidents often combine all three common head injury causes, which are:

  • Trauma: Even the most advanced restraint systems cannot absorb all the force in a high-speed car crash. So, victims often slam their heads on solid objects.
  • Motion: The brain does not fit snugly inside the skull. Instead, the brain is suspended in a deep pool of cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore, when victims’ heads violently move backward and forward during crashes, their brains repeatedly slam against the insides of their skulls.
  • Noise: Most witnesses say that car crashes sound like explosions. These sudden loud noises trigger shockwaves which disrupt brain functions.

Frequently, car crash head injury victims do not feel injured. The brain usually masks its own wounds. That’s why the aforementioned concussed athletes often ask their coaches to put them back in the game because they “feel fine.” So, it’s always important to go to a car crash injury specialist. Otherwise, a serious head injury might go untreated.

Falls are another leading cause of brain injuries. These incidents could cause a motion or trauma-related brain injury. And, most fall victims have no protective gear to lessen the blow.

Assaults also cause a number of head wounds. If inadequate security, like a burned-out security light or an inadequate security system, contributed to the assault, the landowner might be responsible for damages. That’s assuming the landowner had a legal duty to protect the victim and the landowner knew about the problem.

Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers and Short-Term Help

As mentioned, immediate medical assistance is critical in head injury cases. If the damage spreads and symptoms become worse, these wounds are much more difficult to treat.

Unfortunately, head injuries are among the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions. Many victims do not experience signature symptoms, like unconsciousness or nausea. When patients report lesser symptoms, such as soreness or confusion, doctors often dismiss these symptoms as shock from the incident. That’s especially true in car crash cases.

Therefore, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer does not just connect a victim with a doctor. This doctor is usually an injury specialist who knows how to diagnose and treat head injuries.

There’s more. At this point, many victims are out of work. And, head injury medical bills often exceed $100,000. Most families do not have the resources to pay these costs.

So, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer typically sends a letter of protection to the medical provider. This letter guarantees payment when the case is resolved. Thus, the provider charges nothing upfront. Prior to the case’s resolution, Minnesota personal injury lawyers typically negotiate with providers and lower the medical bills. That could mean the victim gets to keep more of the settlement money.

Long-Term Assistance

Medical treatment is not just important for the victim’s health. It’s also an important evidence-collection tool. In addition to diagnosis and treatment information, most medical records contain notes about the patient’s pain level and general attitude. Since victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in negligence cases, Minnesota personal injury lawyers must collect as much evidence as possible.

Additional witness statements are often important as well. Many head injury victims cannot give testimony in court, either because they did not survive the injury or they do not remember it. Minnesota personal injury lawyers, often working with private investigators, know how to reach out to witnesses who may have seen something.

Strong, evidence-based claims frequently settle out of court. So, victims need not go to trial to obtain compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

Head injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

How Do Hutchinson, MN Lawyers Resolve Truck Crash Claims?

An 80,000-pound vehicle, which is the maximum semi-truck weight, traveling at 60mph brings an immeasurable amount of force to bear in a crash. So, it’s little wonder that truck accidents often cause spine injuries and other catastrophic wounds. The medical bills alone in these cases often exceed $4 million.

Frequently, health insurance companies refuse to pay these costs. Insurance adjusters know that truck accident victims are experiencing financial distress, so they often relentlessly pressure these victims to settle their cases. The offer might be tempting, but victims simply have no way of knowing if the offer is fair or not.

So, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer works diligently to resolve these cases and make sure the victim’s medical bills get paid. Attorneys also address vehicle replacement and other concerns. Every case is different, but they all follow the same general outline.

Evidence Collection

Successful negligence claims usually begin with evidence collection. The victim/plaintiff must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). To expedite this process, many Hutchinson, MN lawyers partner with private investigators and other professionals.

Some evidence, such as the police accident report and medical bills, is rather easy to obtain. Generally, attorneys can secure this evidence after just a few phone calls. Then, the accident evaluation process can begin.

Other evidence is much more difficult to obtain. That’s especially true of critical electronic evidence, like the Event Data Recorder. These durable, high-tech gadgets usually survive even the most catastrophic truck wrecks. EDRs measure and record information like:

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

To obtain this evidence, Hutchinson, MN lawyers must overcome a number of legal and technical hurdles. Minnesota has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. So, attorneys usually need court order to use EDR information in court. Additionally, these devices are extremely sophisticated. A Hutchinson, MN lawyer needs a lot more than a screwdriver and a laptop to access and download EDR data.

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and Legal Issues

The evidence in a truck crash claim is like the colored squares of an unsolved Rubik’s cube. Until an attorney twists the cube the right way and puts the colors together, they are just a jumbled mess.

Usually, truck crash twists involve ordinary negligence or negligence per se. Ordinary negligence is a lack of care, and negligence per se is the violation of a safety statute. Distracted driving is a good example of the difference between these two doctrines. Minnesota law prohibits any use of a hand-held device. But other distracted driving behaviors, such as using a hands-free phone while driving, are just as dangerous. So, a distracted driving claim could involve either of these theories. Insurance company defenses, like comparative fault, also come into play here.

A few other truck crash claims involve dangerous products, like defective tires. Generally, manufacturers are liable for defective product injuries as a matter of law. Negligence, or lack thereof, is largely irrelevant.

Endgame

Almost all negligence cases settle out of court. These settlements reduce litigation costs, bring about closure, and give the parties more control over the outcome.

After the evidence collection and legal evaluation processes are complete, Hutchinson, MN lawyers usually open settlement negotiations with the insurance company. First, attorneys usually send demand letters. These letters demand a sum of money in exchange for a liability waiver. To calculate noneconomic losses, most attorneys multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case.

If liability is clear, insurance companies have a legal duty to settle the claim straightaway. However, mostly because of the aforementioned insurance company defenses, liability is usually not crystal-clear. So, to put additional pressure on the insurance company to settle the case, most Hutchinson, MN lawyers file legal paperwork in court.

Generally, insurance company lawyers file procedural motions asking the judge to throw the case out of court. However, if a Hutchinson, MN lawyer was diligent during the evidence collection and legal evaluation process, these motions hardly ever succeed.

If the parties are unable to resolve the case on their own, most McLeod County judges appoint mediators. These individuals meet with both sides and try to facilitate a settlement. Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, which means they are willing to make compromises to reach an agreement, mediation is usually successful.

Connect with a Hard-Hitting Attorney

Truck crash claims usually settle out of court and on victim-friendly terms. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. The sooner you call us, the sooner we start working for you.

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.

A Buffalo, MN Auto Accident Lawyer Looks at Some Common Traffic Tickets

Frequently, emergency responders issue traffic tickets at accident scenes to help insurance companies determine fault. But in many cases, these citations affect liability for damages as well. In fact, because of the negligence per se doctrine, they may conclusively determine liability.

The negligence per se doctrine applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violated a safety law and that violation substantially caused injury. This doctrine saves time during the evidence collection process. As a result, it’s easier for Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyers to obtain fair compensation for accident victims.

Speeding

Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Minnesota. That’s because speed affects the risk of a collision and the force in a collision.

Speed multiples stopping distance. At 30mph, most cars travel about six car lengths between the moment a driver sees a hazard and the moment the car safely stops. At 60mph, stopping distance multiplies to about eighteen car lengths. Other factors, such as vehicle weight and environmental conditions, often increase stopping distance.

Velocity also multiplies the force in a collision between two objects. In this context, speed transforms property damage fender-bender crashes into serious injury or fatal collisions.

In Minnesota, the posted speed limits are presumptively reasonable speeds. So, officers could issue speeding tickets even if the driver was not exceeding the posted limit, if the officer felt the driver was going too fast for the conditions. But officers rarely hand out such tickets. So, in these cases, Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyers normally rely on the ordinary negligence doctrine. Essentially, negligence is a lack of reasonable care.

Failure to Signal/Illegal Lane Change

These citations are especially common in serious motorcycle crash claims. Today’s cars are so solid that sideswipe collisions don’t often cause serious collisions, unless victims lose control of their vehicles. But motorcycle riders have no seatbelts, airbags, steel cocoons, or other things to protect them in these cases. They are completely exposed to danger.

Visibility is also a factor in these situations. Frequently, tortfeasors simply do not see motorcycle riders. But that’s no excuse for negligence, and certainly no defense to a negligence per se claim.

Crossing the Median

These citations illustrate the difference between fault at the scene and liability for damages. If a driver is ticketed for crossing the median, that driver is almost always faulted for the crash. But legal responsibility might be different, because of the last clear chance rule.

All drivers have a duty of reasonable care, regardless of what another driver does. This duty includes a responsibility to avoid accidents when possible. So, if Driver A saw Driver B cross the center line and Driver A did nothing to stop the wreck, Driver A might be legally responsible for the crash.

There’s a big difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. Frequently, collisions happen so fast that there is no way to avoid them. Also, if the tortfeasor was driving erratically at the time, it’s very difficult to get out of the way.

Buffalo, MN Auto Accident Lawyers and Failure to Yield to Pedestrians

Much like motorcyclists, pedestrians have no protection from onrushing cars. The moment they step into the street, they are completely exposed to danger.

Minnesota law is a bit vague when it comes to pedestrian right-of-way. If the pedestrian was in the crosswalk and crossing with the light, the pedestrian clearly had the right-of-way. Other situations, like crossing against the light in the crosswalk, are more uncertain.

In terms of legal liability, the last clear chance rule applies in pedestrian cases. If a driver sees a pedestrian in the road, the driver has a duty to avoid a crash, even if the driver has the right-of-way.

Sudden emergency, a related doctrine, sometimes comes up in pedestrian crashes as well. Frequently, insurance company lawyers argue that a pedestrian victim “darted out into traffic.” This argument sets up the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine excuses negligent conduct if the driver reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency.

But a jaywalking pedestrian is usually not a “sudden emergency.” This label only applies to lightning strikes, tire blowouts, and other completely unexpected situations.

School Bus Stop Arm Violations

These citations are often perfect storm citations. Drivers who ignore school bus stop arms are frequently speeding. Children disembarking from school busses are vulnerable, and since they often cross in front of the stopped bus, they are hard to see.

Reach Out to a Diligent Attorney

Traffic violations make it easier to obtain compensation in car wreck claims. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

How does a Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Win Money in Truck Crash Claims?

Evidence is usually the key to a successful outcome in any civil case. Accident victims have the burden of proof. They must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Imagine two equally-full cups of coffee are on the same table. If the waitress adds one drop of coffee to one cup, it’s fuller than the other one. That’s what a preponderance of the evidence looks like.

The good news is that a preponderance of proof is the lowest standard of evidence in Minnesota. The bad news is that truck crashes are often so catastrophic that little or no physical evidence remains at the scene.

To make up for this lack of evidence, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer must work extra hard to amass the proof necessary to establish negligence. If jurors hear a sufficient amount of compelling evidence, they often award significant damages in these cases. These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Event Data Recorder

After large airplanes crash, investigators often rely on black box flight data recorders to determine what caused the crash. Large truck Event Data Recorders are much the same. Generally, EDRs measure and record key operational information like:

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

A Hutchinson, MN lawyer, often working with an accident reconstructionist, can use this information like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Once an attorney puts the pieces together for jurors, they see a compelling picture of operator negligence.

EDRs are valuable, and Hutchinson, MN lawyers must act quickly to preserve this evidence. As mentioned, truck crashes are often devastating. Following such wrecks, insurance companies usually destroy totaled vehicles, rather than paying to store them. If that happens, the EDR, and all other physical evidence on the truck, is gone forever.

Spoliation letters usually help. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all potential physical evidence, including the EDR.

There is more. Minnesota has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. So, to access and download EDR information, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer typically must obtain a court order.

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and Electronic Logging Devices

EDRs are usually important in all truck wreck claims. ELDs are often critical in drowsy driving claims. Biologically, driving while fatigued is like driving while intoxicated. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours, which is basically a long day on the road, is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for commercial drivers in Minnesota.

Trucking industry executives know how important this issue is. Their lawyers fought the ELD mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. But it finally took full effect in December 2019.

ELDs are basically electronic work logs which are connected to the ignition. If the truck is running, the HOS (hours of service) clock is ticking. Minnesota and the federal government both have strict laws in this area. If a driver does not get enough rest and causes a crash, the driver could be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Furthermore, ELDs are often circumstantial evidence of fatigue. Drivers can technically be in compliance with the HOS rules and still be dangerously fatigued. Research shows that even an hour or two of less sleep makes a difference.

To use this critical data in court, Hutchinson, MN lawyers must overcome the aforementioned vehicle information privacy laws as well as some other privacy laws, mostly regarding medical data.

Safety Maintenance System

Lack of physical evidence is not the only issue in truck crash claims. Generally, these operators have drivers’ licenses in several different states. As a result, it’s difficult or impossible to obtain all relevant driving records.

Several years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began keeping multistate driving records on all American truck drivers. The SMS database focuses on:

  • HOS compliance,
  • Vehicle maintenance history,
  • Prior collisions,
  • Substance abuse history, and
  • Previous traffic citations.

The SMS relies on law enforcement records as opposed to judicial records. So, it is more accurate. For example, if a tortfeasor (negligent driver) received a speeding ticket and took defensive driving, that citation would probably not appear in a judicial database. But it would pop up in the SMS database.

Connect with a Diligent Attorney

Industrious evidence collection lays the groundwork for fair compensation in a truck wreck case. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Do Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers Think Outside the Box and Obtain Maximum Compensation in Car Wreck Claims?

In many situations, proving liability is not the most difficult part of a negligence case. Driver error causes almost all car crashes in Minnesota, and the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Collecting compensation might be different. The Gopher State has one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists in the country. Additionally, Minnesota has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the United States. So, many tortfeasors (negligent drivers) might not have enough coverage to provide fair compensation, especially in a catastrophic injury case.

Fortunately, Minnesota also has some of the broadest vicarious liability laws in the country. Fundamentally, Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers pursue these cases to hold people responsible for their mistakes. Vicarious liability, which is also called third party liability or imputed liability, extends this principle to the person, or organization, which mistakenly set the stage for the crash.

Vicarious liability is usually the best way to obtain maximum compensation in a catastrophic injury wreck. It’s possible to pursue a separate claim against the tortfeasor individually. But these claims are complex, and there is no guarantee of success.

Employer Liability

Truck crashes usually cause catastrophic injuries, such as serious burns and wrongful death. The same is true for high-speed Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing accidents.

Respondeat superior (let the master answer) usually applies in these situations. Back in the day, respondeat superior was available only in limited situations. Now, the doctrine is much broader. Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers can hold employers responsible for the negligent acts of their employees if:

  • Employee: In the car crash realm, employees are not just workers who work regular hours and take home regular paychecks. If the employer controlled the worker, that worker is an “employee” for negligence purposes. This category includes owner-operators, independent contractors, and many unpaid volunteers.
  • Scope of Employment: This prong was once limited to situations like a regular delivery driver on a regular route. Today, Minnesota courts define the scope of employment as any act which benefits the employer in any way. That could include driving a vehicle which bears the company logo. In that case, the free advertising benefits the employer.

Think about an Amazon driver accident. The individual drivers usually have little or no insurance. But Amazon has almost unlimited resources.

Other employer liability theories, which often come up in nursing home abuse or other intentional tort claims, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.

Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and Alcohol Provider Liability

Along these same lines, Minnesota’s dram shop law is one of the broadest ones in the country. Recently, many states have curtailed their dram shop laws, falsely reasoning that they discount individual responsibility in drunk driving cases. However, in Wright County, commercial alcohol providers are vicariously liable for car crash damages if they illegally sold alcohol to a patron who later caused a car crash. Examples of illegal sales include:

  • Under 21,
  • No valid liquor license,
  • After-hours sale, or
  • Sale to an intoxicated person.

Circumstantial evidence of intoxication at the time of sale includes things like unsteady balance, bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol, and slurred speech. As mentioned, the standard of evidence is quite low in these cases. So, a Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer need not produce much evidence to establish this point in court.

Social hosts might be vicariously liable for damages as well, under a theory like negligent undertaking. This legal doctrine applies if a host vaguely promises to do something, like call a taxi for an intoxicated guest, and then fails to follow through on that promise.

Owner Liability

Teen drivers cause a disproportionate number of crashes in Minnesota, mostly because they lack driving experience. People under 18 cannot legally own vehicles or other property. Therefore, the negligent entrustment doctrine usually applies in teen driver crashes. Vehicle owners are vicariously liable for damages if they allow incompetent operators to use their vehicles, and these operators subsequently cause car crashes. Evidence of incompetency includes:

  • No valid drivers’ license,
  • Driving in violation of a license restriction, like driving at night, and
  • A poor driving record.

Minnesota is a family purpose doctrine state. If a minor drove a vehicle for a family purpose, like picking up siblings from soccer practice, it is easier to establish owner responsibility for car crash damages.

These damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in extreme cases.

Contact an Aggressive Attorney

The tortfeasor is frequently not the only legally responsible party in a vehicle collision claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer in Hutchinson, MN: How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident?

The average injury-related hospital bill often exceeds $100,000. This figure does not include indirect medical expenses, such as medical devices and prescription drugs. It also does not include noneconomic losses. Depending on the facts of a case, fair compensation for things like pain and suffering could be two or three times the economic losses.

A car crash claim is about more than money. The claim is also about justice. We all make mistakes while driving. And, we are all accountable for the mistakes that we make. That accountability includes liability for damages, if any.

Personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN are committed to maximum compensation for victims, in terms of both money and justice. On the other hand, insurance company lawyers are committed to minimum compensation for victims, in both these areas. In most cases, the amount someone can sue for a car accident depends on several basic variables.

Evidence in Vehicle Collision Claims

The victim/plaintiff must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Although that’s the lowest burden of proof in Minnesota law, evidence collection is still the foundation of all successful car crash claims.

Basic vehicle collision evidence usually includes the police accident report and medical bills. Knowledgable personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN can easily overcome privacy and other restrictions to obtain this evidence. These same privacy laws also apply to electronic evidence, as outlined below.

If liability is clear and the insurance company has no legal defenses, this basic evidence is usually sufficient. However, such cases are few and far between. Additionally, the more evidence a victim/plaintiff assembles, the more settlement value increases.

Frequently, personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN use electronic evidence to bolster the proof in car wreck claims. Some forms of electronic evidence include:

  • Event Data Recorder: Much like black box flight data recorders, EDRs measure and store operational information such as vehicle speed, steering angle, and brake application. Data such as this is often critical in car crash claims, especially when it comes to refuting insurance company defenses.
  • Cell Phone Data: Text message history, call logs, browsing history, and other such information could be critical in distracted driving claims. Cell phone location history could be important as well. For example, such data could establish that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) had been drinking recently.
  • Electronic Logging Device: Many commercial vehicles have ELDs. Since these gadgets keep track of service hours, they are often critical in drowsy driving cases.

As mentioned, Minnesota has very strong privacy laws, especially with regard to vehicle information. So, personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN must normally obtain court orders to access EDRs, cell phone data, and other such information.

Obtaining electronic evidence is only part of the picture. Attorneys must also know how to effectively present this information in court. On a related note, special evidentiary rules often apply to electronic evidence, in terms of things like authentication and verification.

Personal Injury Lawyers in Hutchinson, MN and Legal Theories

Car crash evidence is like the pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle. Attorneys must put the pieces together. Personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN often partner with accident reconstruction professionals to help ensure maximum compensation.

Some claims, such as the aforementioned drowsy driving and distracted driving claims, rely on the ordinary negligence theory. Minnesota law forbids device distraction and fatigued driving, but these laws only apply in limited situations.

Ordinary negligence is basically a lack of care. Generally, drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must avoid accidents when possible and obey the rules of the road. Commercial drivers, such as Uber drivers, might have a higher duty of care.

Roughly half of all the fatal car crashes in McLeod County involve drug use, excessive speed, and/or alcohol use. These driving behaviors are illegal under almost any circumstances. So, the negligence per se shortcut usually applies. Tortfeasors are usually liable for damages as a matter of law if:

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

Frequently, the tortfeasor is not the only party who is responsible for damages. For example, Minnesota has one of the broadest dram shop laws in the country. Bars, grocery stores, restaurants, and other commercial providers might be vicariously liable for car crash damages.

The Contributory Negligence Defense

Comparative fault is probably the most common insurance company defense in car wreck claims. This legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim.

Assume Vicky Victim was traveling 50mph in a 45mph zone when Timmy Tortfeasor illegally moved into her lane. A McLeod County jury must consider the evidence and divide responsibility on a percentage basis. Since Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar, Timmy must be at least 51 percent responsible for Vicky to recover a proportionate share of damages.

To blunt the contributory negligence defense, Vicky’s personal injury lawyer in Hutchinson, MN could argue that although she was technically speeding, Vicky was not traveling fast enough to cause the crash.

Contact Aggressive Attorneys

Substantial compensation might be available in car crash claims. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Hutchinson, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several offices throughout the Gopher State.

I Was Hit by a Car. How Much Money Will I Get from a Buffalo, MN Accident Lawyer?

Vehicle collisions usually involve monetary settlements, because driver error causes about 96 percent of these incidents. In a few cases, this driver error is truly accidental. Sarah might turn her head at exactly the wrong moment or Tom might not see a patch of black ice in the shadows.  But in most cases, these errors are negligent.

If negligence was involved, a Buffalo, MN accident lawyer can usually obtain substantial compensation. The amount usually depends on how well an attorney adheres to the proper plan, as outlined below. Compensation might be available in other cases as well, such as crashes that involve bad tires or other defective products.

Car Wreck Investigations

Just like a house is built on a solid foundation, a car accident settlement is built on an investigation. That investigation includes both the facts and the law.

For Buffalo, MN accident lawyers, the factual investigation normally begins with the police accident report and medical bills. These two types of evidence are very insightful. The police report talks about the crash itself and the medical bills describe the aftermath of the crash. Additionally, this evidence is easily accessible. Buffalo, MN accident lawyers know how to get around privacy law red tape.

Sometimes, however, this evidence is not enough. For example, if the victim was killed, the police accident report probably does not reflect both sides of the story.

Additional evidence includes things like a car’s Event Data Recorder. EDRs often contain vital information, such as vehicle speed and steering angle at the time of the wreck.

The legal investigation is important as well. There are several basic theories in negligence cases, and both of them have pros and cons. For example, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violated a safety law and caused a crash, the tortfeasor might be liable for damages as a matter of law. Negligence per se claims are relatively easy to prove. However, monetary damages are often lower in negligence per se matters, because some jurors are more likely to say that the victim was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In both investigatory phases, experience matters more than anything. Buffalo, MN accident lawyer must know how to collect compelling evidence. And, they must use the right legal theory to put this evidence together.

Demand Letter

Once medical treatment is at least substantially complete, attorneys usually send demand letters to insurance companies. The initial demand amount often greatly affects the amount of money in the final car accident settlement. In Minnesota, this process is not easy.

Economic losses are the total of lost wages, medical bills, and other tangible losses. Minnesota has a very complex collateral source rule. Sometimes, expenses paid by Medicaid or a private insurance company are included in this total, and sometimes they are not.

To ascertain noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, most Buffalo, MN accident lawyers multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four. The multiplier largely depends on the facts of the case, the applicable law, and some intangible factors, such as the legal venue.

The figure in a demand letter is the starting point for settlement talks. From there, a Buffalo, MN accident lawyer’s negotiating skills take center stage. An attorney must know when to give ground and when to stand firm. Otherwise, the settlement amount might be too low, or there might not be a settlement at all.

Buffalo, MN Accident Lawyers and Legal Action

If liability is not an issue, most insurance companies have a legal duty to settle the case in a few weeks. However, there is almost always at least some question as to liability. Possible insurance company defenses in car wreck cases include contributory negligence and last clear chance. These defenses can delay settlement and affect the amount of money the victim receives.

So, a Buffalo, MN accident lawyer must often file legal paperwork to preserve the victim’s rights. The statute of limitations in most negligence cases is two years from the date of the accident. Additionally, undue delay usually hurts victim/plaintiffs, because they have the burden of proof.

Legal advocacy skills are important. Most legal actions have basically two parts. First, there are pretrial motions which focus on the applicable law. Then, there is the trial itself, which focuses on the facts. If a Buffalo, MN accident lawyer is highly skilled in both these areas, the final settlement amount could be significantly higher.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

The amount of money you get from a car accident settlement largely depends on the skill of your Buffalo, MN accident lawyer. If you were hurt, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A., for a free consultation. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Do Accident Lawyers in Brainerd, MN Settle Most Slip-and-Fall Cases Out of Court?

In a word, yes. Fewer than 3 percent of all slip-and-fall claims settle out of court. Unfortunately, that statistic does not mean the case will settle quickly. There is also a good chance that the claim will go through the system and settle almost literally at the eleventh hour.

Generally, a slip-and-fall settlement includes compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Actual settlement amounts vary significantly, mostly depending on the strength of the victim/plaintiff’s evidence and the legal theories involved, as outlined below.

Although this money is available, stingy insurance companies do not simply give it away. To obtain maximum compensation, an accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN must have excellent negotiating skills as well as excellent advocacy skills. A deficiency in either area could mean that the victim/plaintiff must settle for less.

The Nuts and Bolts of a Slip and Fall Claim

First and foremost, an accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN must establish a legal duty. In other words, a landowner must be theoretically responsible for the victim/plaintiff’s injury. Minnesota law assigns the applicable duty based mostly on the relationship between the victim and landowner:

  • Duty of Reasonable Care: Invitees are people who have permission to be on the land and whose presence benefits the owner. The invitation could be direct or indirect; the benefit could be tangible or intangible. Most slip-and-fall victims are invitees. In this context, the duty of reasonable care includes a one-time responsibility to make the premises safe and an ongoing responsibility to perform safety inspections.
  • Duty to Warn: Licensees are people like guests of hotel guests. These individuals have indirect permission to be on the land, but their presence does not benefit the owner. Because of the more distant relationship, the applicable duty is more limited. The duty to warn involves only latent (hidden) defects, such as a burned-out security light.
  • No Legal Responsibility: Trespassers are people with no permission and no benefit. So, there is generally no duty, except a duty to refrain from intentional harm. Some exceptions, such as the attractive nuisance rule, protect child trespassers in some cases.

On the defense side, some legal theories include res ipsa loquitur and the open and obvious doctrine.

If it applies, RIL (the thing speaks for itself) makes it easier for an accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN to establish negligence. However, Minnesota law sharply limits this doctrine, a fact which insurance company lawyers are eager to try and take advantage of.

In slip-and-fall claims, the open and obvious doctrine immunizes landowners in situations like a colored liquid on the floor. This rule is subjective. For example, a colored liquid might not be an open and obvious hazard to someone with poor eyesight or to anyone in a dark room.

Moreover, an accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN must establish practical responsibility. That means knowledge of the fall hazard. Such evidence might be:

  • Direct: Restroom cleaning reports, “cleanup on aisle nine” announcements, and other smoking guns usually emerge during a lawsuit’s discovery process. Direct evidence often improves the bargaining position for an accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN.
  • Circumstantial: According to the time-notice rule, constructive knowledge (should have known) is linked to the amount of time the hazard existed. If the victim slipped on a wilted piece of lettuce, the hazard had probably existed for quite a while, so an employee should have picked up the lettuce.

On the defense side, direct evidence is only admissible in certain situations. And, as for circumstantial evidence, Crow Wing County jurors can draw their own conclusions regarding the time-notice rule’s applicability.

Accident Lawyers in Brainerd, MN and the Settlement Process

If there is no question as to the landowner’s liability, insurance companies have a legal duty to settle slip-and-fall claims within a few weeks. However, there is almost always at least some debate as to the owner’s responsibility. Moreover, as mentioned above, if the action moves forward through the discovery process, better evidence might be available. That usually means higher compensation.

Discovery normally includes both written and oral discovery. Written discovery is typically document production, such as repair invoices and medical bills. Oral discovery usually means depositions, which are like courtroom witness examinations without a judge or jury.

As for the amount of a settlement, it is usually rather easy for an accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN to calculate things like lost wages and medical expenses. Pain and suffering, however, is more subjective. Many accident lawyers in Brainerd, MN multiply the economic losses by two or three based on the strength of the plaintiff’s evidence.

Contact a Savvy Attorney

Most slip-and-fall cases settle out of court, but the process might be protracted. For a free consultation with an experienced accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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

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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (218) 736-9429
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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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