The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
The Truth About Minnesota Car Accident Lawsuits
August 31, 2018
Human error causes about 93 percent of the car crashes in Minnesota. The most common direct causations are failure to maintain a proper lookout, driver inattention, and excessive velocity. Many times, these incidents do not involve a lack of care or a legal violation. For example, most people would not consider drinking a bottle of water while driving to be excessively dangerous.
But other times, there is more to the story. Chatting or surfing on a cell phone is clearly a dangerous activity. Or, there might be an underlying cause, such as driver fatigue or alcohol impairment.
In these kinds of cases, a Minnesota car wreck lawsuit may be in order. Car crash victims may also be able to file successful claims if the tortfeasors (negligent drivers) violate safety laws.
Beginning a Claim
The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a Minnesota car wreck lawsuit. Therefore, the victim/plaintiff must also have substantial evidence.
Medical bills and police accident reports usually serve as the foundations for these claims. Each element involves some complex questions.
Obtaining proper medical treatment is sometimes an issue in these cases. Some victims have no insurance or money. Others seek treatment from a family physician or from a doctor who is just a name on a list. In cases like these, the medical record could be incomplete or inaccurate.
Fortunately, a Minnesota car wreck lawsuit attorney can usually arrange for medical treatment without any upfront cost. Additionally, an attorney can negotiate to reduce these bills, so victims keep more of their settlement money. This no-upfront-cost treatment comes from car accident specialists. These physicians can diagnose and treat conditions like whiplash and other common car crash injuries.
The police accident report often contains a wealth of information. Although emergency responders are not accident reconstructionists, they are usually very skilled at putting the pieces together. Furthermore, although they are not private investigators, these reports usually contain some witness contact information.
But these reports are often incomplete or inaccurate. They are incomplete because first responders are not at the scene to collect evidence. Their primary responsibilities involve securing the scene and treating injuries. Moreover, if the victim was seriously injured or killed, the report narrative may only contain one side of the story.
So, a Minnesota car wreck lawsuit attorney supplements the information in the police accident report with things like:
Additional Witness Statements: Some witnesses do not want to talk to police officers, for one reason or another. An attorney can sometimes convince these individuals to voluntarily come forward and share what they know.
Electronic Evidence. Most passenger cars contain Event Data Recorders. This gadget is essentially just like an airplane’s black box flight data recorder. Commercial vehicles, like trucks and buses, often contain Electronic Logging Devices. ELDs are valuable in drowsy driving crashes.
Physical Evidence: Most intersections have at least one or two surveillance or other cameras in the immediate vicinity. Photographs of things like physical damage and skidmarks may be important as well.
Attorneys often partner with private investigators to collect evidence in these cases.
How the Minnesota Car Accident Lawsuit Process Works
All civil lawsuits begin with petitions for relief. These documents set forth the legal theory in the case. In car crash cases, the two most common theories are:
Negligence: As mentioned above, negligence is basically a lack of ordinary care. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the five types of impairment (alcohol, drugs, distraction, fatigue, and medical condition) are the most common roots of negligence.
Negligence Per Se: Sometimes, state law sets the standard of care. For example, if the tortfeasor was speeding, care or lack of care is irrelevant. The tortfeasor may be liable for damages as a matter of law.
The petition also sets out a claim for damages in accordance with the medical records. Compensation in most Minnesota car wreck lawsuits includes money for economic damages, such as doctor bills, and noneconomic damages, such as loss of enjoyment in life.
The discovery process usually comes next. Plaintiffs and defendants exchange information about their claims and defenses. In the United States, trials do not necessarily determine which side is “wrong” and which one is “right.” Instead, trials are designed to ascertain the truth of the matter.
Finally, Minnesota car wreck lawsuits are resolved. That resolution could come through an agreed settlement, after mediation, or after a jury trial.
Well over 90 percent of civil cases settle out of court. That settlement could come very quickly. In fact, sometimes these cases settle before a lawsuit is even filed. Other times, the parties may settle the case at the eleventh hour.
Three Post-Crash Do’s and Don’ts
Victims have the power to expedite this process. It’s much easier to win a football game if the team gets ahead, and it’s much easier to win Minnesota car wreck lawsuits in this way as well. Here are a few post-accident tips:
Do Take Pictures: As mentioned, this kind of physical evidence is important. Take as many pictures of the vehicles, the street, your injuries, and the surroundings as possible.
Don’t Say “I’m Sorry”: Such a statement could be construed as an admission of liability. Instead, say something like “I’m sorry this accident happened” or “Are you okay?”
Don’t Talk to the Insurance Company: Telephone adjusters know how to extract damaging information from victims, and insurance company lawyers know how to get these statements admitted in court.
Call Today To Speak With A Minnesota Car Accident Lawyer From Carlson & Jones
Most importantly, contact an experienced Minnesota Car Accident Lawyer as soon as possible after the crash. At Carlson & Jones, P.A., we do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.