The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
If Grandma Really Got Run Over by a Reindeer, Shouldn’t Her Family Call a Personal Injury Lawyer in Brainerd, MN?
December 25, 2019
Especially since the Yuletide season now begins shortly after Halloween, 1978’s Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer often gets some seasonal air time. This novelty Christmas song tells the tale of Grandma’s unfortunate encounter with Santa Claus one dark and stormy night.
According to the song, even though she did not take her medication and she may have consumed too much eggnog, Grandma “staggered” into the snow. Several hours later, concerned family members found Grandma’s presumably lifeless body in the street with “hoof-prints on her forehead and incriminating Claus marks on her back.” Those are the facts as we know them.
If unexplained holiday-themed injuries beset your family, it’s good to have a personal injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN in your corner. In this situation, an attorney’s job is twofold. First, a lawyer must establish that Santa did indeed run over Grandma. Second, a personal injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN must prove that Santa was negligent.
How can a Personal Injury Lawyer in Brainerd, MN Establish Santa’s Liability?
This incident is a classic no-witness hit-and-run. No one saw Santa’s sleigh hit Grandma, so there is no direct evidence. Additionally, the collision was out-of-place for the Jolly Old Elf. Most people know that the sleigh travels through the air and up on the housetops.
But there is considerable circumstantial evidence. Not very many people drive sleighs on Christmas Eve. Moreover, there was proof at the scene. If people do drive sleighs, they are usually horse-drawn. There would be no deer hoof marks, and certainly no “incriminating Claus marks,” whatever those are.
The burden of proof comes into play here. In civil court, victim/plaintiffs must only establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). It is by no means conclusive that Santa ran over Grandma. Even if it was his sleigh, there is no evidence that he was behind the wheel, er, holding the reigns. However, all these things are definitely more likely than not.
Personal injury lawyers in Brainerd, MN go through this same process in other hit-and-run claims. Generally, if a video camera or witness saw the vehicle at or near the scene, that’s enough to establish the driver’s liability. It is more likely than not that the owner was driving a vehicle at any particular time.
Grandma’s Contributory Negligence, if Any
Back to the facts of this disturbing case. According to the song, Grandma “staggered” into the snow because she had been drinking too much eggnog and had not taken her medication. These facts suggest that Grandma was impaired.
Alcohol use and medical condition are some of the most common kinds of impairment. Alcohol’s impairing effects begin with the first drink. If Grandma had more than that, she might have been highly impaired, especially since older people are especially sensitive to alcohol. We do not know what her medical condition was, but it’s reasonable to assume it could have been dementia. It’s relatively easy for a personal injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN to obtain additional evidence on this point.
If Grandma was impaired, Minnesota’s modified comparative fault law might come into play. In the Gopher State, tortfeasors like the nefarious Santa Claus are responsible for a proportionate share of damages if they are at least 51 percent responsible for the wreck.
Procedurally, the insurance company could raise the contributory negligence defense, and a personal injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN could then refute the defense. As for Grandma’s alcohol impairment, people have different definitions of how much eggnog is “too much.” There’s no way to tell how much she drank without doing a blood test. Moreover, as mentioned above, more evidence is necessary as to the nature of Grandma’s ailment.
Damages in a vehicle collision usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Slightly different rules apply in wrongful death cases.