The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
How do Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers Overcome Motorcycle Crash Defenses?
October 16, 2019
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.