Ask a Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyer: How Much Will I Get for Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident Settlement?

After a car crash, the economic losses are normally staggering. Emergency care alone might cost $100,000 or even more. This figure does not include physical therapy and other costs. This figure also does not include other economic losses, such as property damage and lost wages.

Generally, car crash victims are eligible for noneconomic damages as well. Minnesota has a limited no-fault law. If the victim’s medical bills exceeded $4,000, additional compensation for things like pain and suffering is available. Many hospitals charge that much to walk in the door.

No amount of money can fully compensate for things like loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (companionship). But since money damages are the only available remedy, Brainerd, MN injury lawyerswork hard to help victims get money for pain and suffering in a car accident settlement.

Determining a Fair Amount of Compensation

Most personal injury claims settle out of court. Brainerd, MN injury lawyers usually send demand letters to initiate settlement negotiations. These demand letters must include an amount for both economic and noneconomic losses.

The economic damage calculation is rather straightforward, but there are some curves. Property loss is a good example. Many times, the family car has an emotional value which exceeds its financial value. Victims deserve compensation for both kinds of losses.

Additionally, many victims return to work before they are 100 percent better. If they are self-employed, they are less productive. Alternatively, they might come in late or leave early. Lost wages compensation must account for these things.

Calculating noneconomic losses, however, is a different matter. To determine a fair amount, most Brainerd, MN injury lawyers use one of the following formulas:

  • Some lawyers use the days of missed work as a basis for pain and suffering. For example, if Ralph missed 100 days of work after a crash, including both emergency and followup treatment, and Ralph makes $200 per day, his pain and suffering is approximately $20,000.
  • Other lawyers multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four (usually three), largely depending on the factors listed below. If Jill’s medical bills and other economic losses were $10,000, her pain and suffering calculation might be $30,000.

These hypothetical figures are initial offers. To resolve the case, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers typically have a legal duty to negotiate in good faith. They must make sacrifices to complete a deal. The extent of these sacrifices varies greatly, depending on a number of items.

Minnesota Personal Injury Settlement Statistics

To understand how much compensation you could receive for your personal injury case, it’s important to know the average settlement amounts. That way, you can temper your expectations.

The national median for personal injury awards is $38,179. In Minnesota, the median personal injury case settlement is $30,000. So, Minnesota judges tend to award personal injury plaintiffs about 21% less than the national median.

At the same time, research shows that the national average for the chance of winning a personal injury settlement is 53%. Compare that to Minnesota’s average settlement probability of 67%, which is 14% greater than the national average.

In summary, Minnesota judges award smaller settlement sums than the national median award size. But Minnesota judges award settlements of any size more often than the national average. That means your Brainerd personal injury lawyer has a pretty good chance of winning settlement funds for you.

What Happens When the Defendant Doesn’t Want to Settle?

Settlements are the ideal outcome of personal injury cases. And personal injury cases do settle about 95%–96% of the time. However, there is a small chance that your personal injury suit could go to trial.

Here are a few reasons why this could happen to you:

  • The defendant refuses to offer a settlement
  • The defendant offers a settlement amount, but you and your lawyer determine the amount isn’t sufficient for your damages
  • You and your attorney offer a settlement that the defendant perceives as unreasonable
  • You want the opportunity to seek punitive damages, which are only awarded by a trial judge’s discretion

If any of these four things happen, you will have to the forfeit settlement. You and your attorney will then have to prepare for trial.

Brained, MN Injury Lawyers and Car Crash Evidence

The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a negligence case. So, the possibility of success increases if the victim/plaintiff has substantial evidence. As a result, the claim’s settlement value increases.

Evidence in a car crash claim often includes physical evidence, such as medical bills. Generally, these documents provide more than diagnosis, treatment, and financial data. They also include notes which describe the patient’s physical and emotional state on certain days. Brainerd, MN injury lawyers can normally introduce these records at trial.

Nonphysical evidence, such as witness testimony, is also admissible. Many witnesses can connect with jurors in ways that paper documents cannot.

Insurance Company Defenses in Minnesota

Strong, evidence-based claims help Brainerd, MN injury lawyers negotiate settlements from a position of strength. But the amount of evidence is not the only consideration in settlement negotiations.

Defenses, such as comparative fault, often come into play. This legal doctrine shifts blame from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. For example, in a freeway collision, one driver might have changed lanes without signaling and the other driver might have been speeding. In these cases, a Crow Wing County jury must divide fault on a percentage basis. 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 tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate amount of damages.

Other insurance company defenses include sudden emergency, which often comes up in pedestrian accidents, and last clear chance, a frequent defense in rear-end or head-on crashes.

Much like strong evidence bolsters a victim/plaintiff’s claim, a strong defense supports the insurance company’s efforts to reduce or deny compensation.

How to Find an Aggressive Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyer

As we’ve mentioned, a strong defense is critical if you want fair compensation for your medical bills and/or pain and suffering. That’s why you need aggressive representation from a highly experienced attorney.

Here’s how to find the best personal injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN.

Consider Expertise

The first step to finding the best personal injury attorney is to look for lawyers who have experience and a successful track record with personal injury cases.

Here’s something else to consider: if you’re suing your insurance company, avoid attorneys who have worked with insurers. You don’t want to end up with a legal professional who has a soft spot for insurers. You want an attorney who will fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve.

Ask for Referrals

Once you have a long list of personal injury lawyers, ask around for referrals. Do you have friends or family who have been in your situation before? A referral to a lawyer who helped someone else win a settlement can go a long way.

However, don’t choose an attorney solely based on recommendation. You want to make sure the lawyer fits with your unique needs and specific case, so make sure you schedule a consultation. More on that later.

Search for Local Brainerd Personal Injury Attorneys

Anytime you’re looking for lawyers, you should always search in your state. Laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A Minnesota attorney will know those laws and be prepared to use them in your case.

Further, consider an attorney near you. A local attorney has the added advantage of being familiar with the court system. That can be a major advantage, especially if your case ultimately goes to trial.

Read Online Reviews

To narrow down your list of attorneys, it’s always a good idea to check out online reviews. You should be able to access client reviews on the attorney website and via third-party platforms like Yelp.

Better yet, check out reviews from other lawyers. Websites like Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers have peer reviews for selected lawyers.

Schedule a Consultation

By now, you should have whittled your long list down to 2–3 personal injury attorneys in Brainerd. Now, it’s time to schedule that initial consultation we talked about earlier. Reputable lawyers typically offer free consultations, so you have nothing to lose.

Here are some questions to ask during your consultation:

  • Do you have the resources and time to take on my case?
  • If my case doesn’t settle, are you prepared to go to trial?
  • How often do you succeed with cases like mine?

It’s also important to ask about fees. You should never let cost determine which personal injury attorney you choose. After all, you get what you pay for when it comes to legal representation.

However, we understand that cost is always a factor in choosing the right lawyer. Make sure to understand your attorney’s fee structure, whether it’s by the hour, a flat fee, or a contingent fee. If it’s not a flat fee or a contingent fee, it may help to ask how long the case could take to get an idea of the total cost for representation.

Reach Out to an Aggressive Car Accident Attorney

The amount for pain and suffering from a car accident settlement depends on many factors. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

 

Original article published on January 26, 2020 and updated on November 9, 2021.

Drugged Driving Charges and Criminal Lawyers in Brainerd, MN

In many parts of Minnesota, impairing drugs are easier to obtain than alcohol. Two neighboring states, Michigan and Illinois, have legalized recreational marijuana, including marijuana edibles. Prescription drug use is widespread, and behaviors like pill sharing and abuse are all too common. Furthermore, many of the drugs available at corner pharmacies, such as NyQuil and Sominex, could impair drivers and are therefore illegal in this context.

DUI convictions have significant consequences. The state often relies on flimsy circumstantial proof in drugged driving cases. Our Brainerd, MN criminal lawyers know how to challenge this proof. direct and collateral consequences. Even for a first offense, defendants face extended court supervision and drivers’ license suspension, along with other penalties. Indirect consequences include sky-high auto insurance rates, adverse effects on family court parenting time disputes, and possible employment consequences.

Since the consequences are so severe and it’s so easy to fall into the drugged driving pit, aggressive representation from a criminal lawyer in Brainerd, MN is essential. By attacking the state’s evidence, which is usually circumstantial, an attorney can reduce or eliminate these aforementioned consequences.

What Is Drugged Driving in Brainerd, MN?

Drugged driving is similar to DUI/DWI charges in Brainerd, Minnesota. If you’re pulled over while impaired by illegal or prescription drugs, an enforcement officer may charge you with drugged driving.

 

Driving while under the influence of drugs is illegal because it puts yourself and others at risk. Injuring someone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a felony, and a court can revoke your driving privileges. And if drunk or drugged driving results in a fatality, you could receive a maximum of 15 years in prison.

 

Here’s what else you need to know about Minnesota’s drunk and drugged driving laws.

Drugged Driving Definitions

 

Minnesota law classifies drugged driving as “driving under the influence.” What does that mean? Any time you drive while under the influence of a controlled substance, a hazardous substance, or any amount of a Schedule I or II substance means you’re under the influence.

 

Controlled substances are any drugs or compounds listed in Minnesota’s Controlled Substances Act. For example, opioids and hallucinogens are controlled substances in Minnesota.

 

The term “hazardous substances” usually applies to legal products people inhale to get high. For example, nitrous oxide is a legal product that some people use to get high. If you drive while under the influence of nitrous oxide, an officer could issue you a DUI/DWI.

 

Finally, Schedule I and II drugs include the following:

 

  • Hallucinogens (Heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy)
  • Opiates (Methadone, Oxycodone, Morphine, Codeine, and Meth)
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana

 

Minnesota’s Zero Tolerance law (which we’ll talk more about next) does make an exception for driving while under the influence of marijuana.

What Does the Law Say?

The Gopher State’s drugged driving law is rather complex. Largely because there are so many drugs which could seriously impair drivers, there are basically two ways for the state to bring DUI-drug charges:

  • Under the Influence: Almost all DUI-drug prosecutions involve this part of the law. It’s illegal to drive under the influence of an intoxicating substance. That could be almost anything in your medicine cabinet, and many of the things in your kitchen pantry. However, the defendant must know that the substance is potentially impairing. That provision, along with the circumstantial nature of the proof, gives criminal lawyers in Brainerd, MN an opening.
  • Zero Tolerance: It’s also illegal to drive with even a trace amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II substance in one’s body. Most street drugs, like heroin and LSD, are Schedule I drugs. Most prescription drugs, like Vicodin and Oxycontin, are Schedule II drugs. Marijuana is also a Schedule I drug, but it’s specifically exempted from this part of the law. Peace officers rarely order urine or blood tests in drugged driving cases. That’s the only way to establish specific drug use beyond a reasonable doubt.

Minnesota also has a refusal-to-submit law. If officers demand a blood or urine sample and the defendant refuses to provide one, the defendant could be charged with a separate criminal offense. That’s on top of any administrative drivers’ license suspension.

Under Birchfield v. North Dakota, peace officers must obtain search warrants before they extract blood or urine samples. Officers rarely bother with such warrants, except on no-refusal weekends and other heightened enforcement periods.

Drugged Driving Conviction Consequences

Minnesota enforces hefty fines and even jail time for drugged driving offenders. However, the exact penalty depends on whether you’ve received a previous drugged driving conviction and how many.

  • 1st Offense: First-time drugged driving offenders may receive up to 90 days in jail, pay up to $1,000 in fines, or both.
  • 2nd Offense: A second drugged driving conviction can earn you up to a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.
  • 3rd Offense: If you get a third drugged driving conviction, the court will slap you with penalties of up to 1 year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. 
  • 4th Offense: Four DUI/DWIs within 10 years is a felony in Minnesota. A  felony drugged driving conviction can incur up to 7 years in prison, up to a $14,000 fine, or both.
  • 5th Offense or More: A fifth or subsequent drugged driving conviction comes with minimum sentencing. That means a conviction will automatically earn you a minimum of 1 year in jail, lengthy probation sentences, or both.
  • 2nd Felony Offense: If you receive a drugged driving felony and have a criminal vehicular homicide or injury felony on your record, you will receive up to 7 years in prison and/or pay up to $14,000 in fines.

Keep in mind that refusing to take a sobriety test can increase your drugged driving penalties in Minnesota. For example, refusing a sobriety test for your 1st or 2nd drugged driving offense will increase your fine to up to $3,000 and jail time to up to 1 year.

Further, if you refuse to undergo a sobriety test, a court could revoke your driving privileges. This may include having to forfeit your driver’s license, license plates, and even your vehicle.

How Do Brainerd, MN Criminal Lawyers Challenge Drugged Driving Evidence?

You don’t want to pay the price of a drugged driving charge in Brainerd, MN. That’s why you need to find the best criminal lawyers ASAP. A good drugged driving defense attorney will help you understand what you’re up again and fight for the best outcome.

But how exactly will your lawyer challenge your drugged driving charge? We’re talking about three strategies DUI/DWI defense attorneys use next.

Challenging the Initial Pull Over in Brainerd, MN

If you received a drugged driving charge after getting pulled over, your lawyer could challenge the grounds for that initial pullover. In Minnesota, a law officer must collect a minimum standard of evidence before he or she can pull someone over.

An experienced Brainerd criminal lawyer knows the requirements enforcement officers must meet before pulling someone over. Often, officers fail to follow police procedure. Your attorney can then ask for any evidence collected during the initial pullover to be thrown out from your case.

This defense won’t apply if you received a DUI after going through a roadblock or sobriety checkpoint.

Challenging Driving or Physical Control of the Vehicle

You’ve probably heard of cases where someone receives a DUI even though they weren’t driving. Whether the person was asleep behind the wheel or in the passenger seat while in possession of their car keys, officers have the right to issue a drugged driving charge if they’re under the influence and “in control” of the vehicle.

In this case, all your Brainerd criminal lawyer needs to do is prove you weren’t in control of the car at the time of your arrest. He or she may acquire witness testimony to challenge the ruling that you were in control of the vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

 

Challenging Field Sobriety Test Results

Circumstantial evidence of drug intoxication almost always means the three approved Field Sobriety Tests. Most FSTs are divided attention tests which measure physical dexterity and mental acuity. Scientists claim that intoxicated individuals cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. The three approved FSTs, and some ways to challenge them in court, are:

  • Heel to Toe Walk: Generally, officers force defendants to walk an imaginary line in the dark while wearing something other than athletic shoes. It’s almost impossible for anyone, whether they are intoxicated or not, to successfully complete this test under these conditions.
  • One-Leg Stand: It’s very difficult for anyone with any mobility impairment at all to lift one leg and stand as still as a statute for more than two or three seconds.
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The DUI eye test is the only FST that’s not a divided attention test. Many people have nystagmus, a condition also known as lazy eye. But they do not know they have it, since the symptoms are so mild. So, they will fail this test whether or not they are intoxicated.

Under the Fifth Amendment, defendants have a right to refuse to perform the FSTs. And, their refusal usually cannot be used against them in court.

Can I Expunge a Drugged Driving Conviction?

Partially. Misdemeanor DUI is usually expugnable. There is usually a two or four-year waiting period. And, the defendant must not catch any new charges during the waiting period. Even after expungement, which is really record sealing in Minnesota, the conviction still appears in judicial records and is still on the person’s driving record.

Expungement is not automatic. Some factors in the decision include the nature of the offense, amount of time that has passed, defendant’s rehabilitation efforts, the probation officer’s recommendation, and the defendant’s criminal history.

Rely on an Experienced Attorney

DUI-drug cases are almost as common as DUI-alcohol cases, and the law is very harsh. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal lawyer in Brainerd, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. The sooner you call, the sooner we start fighting for you.

 

Original article published on May 4, 202 and updated on November 2. 2021.

Do I Need to Get a DWI Lawyer in Brainerd MN?

Minnesota law enforcement officers arrest about 25,000 DWI offenders each year. And 77% of these charges result in DWI convictions. This is why hiring a DWI defense attorney is a must after you’re charged with drunk driving.

Before about 1990, a Minnesota DWI was little more than a rather serious traffic ticket. In fact, many Brainerd officers just gave intoxicated motorists a warning. But since then, and even more so since the early 2010s, authorities have gotten tough on DWIs, in both the field and the courthouse. Judges have authorized many new tools, like roadside checkpoints, that have increased the number of arrests. People do not even have to be “driving” a vehicle to be arrested for Driving While Intoxicated.

Faced with these situations, hiring a DWI lawyer in Brainerd MN is a no-brainer. A good criminal attorney will know the DWI defense strategies that will work in your case.

What Does DWI Mean in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. Law enforcement would consider you intoxicated if you’re operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.

Minnesota distinguishes between four degrees of DWIs:

  • Fourth Degree: first-time offenders with no aggravating factors and offenders without DWI convictions in the last ten years with no aggravating factors
  • Third Degree: first-time offenders with one aggravating factor and second-time offenders 
  • Second Degree: first-time offenders with two aggravating factors and third-time offenders
  • First Degree: offenders who receive four DWI convictions within 10 years or second-time DWI felony offenders

Fourth-degree DWI offenses are misdemeanors. Third- and second-degree offenses are gross misdemeanors. And fifth-degree DWI convictions are felonies.

By now, you may be wondering: what is an aggravating factor? Driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 or higher and having a child aged 16 or younger in the car are aggravating factors for DWI in Minnesota.

DUI vs. DWI in Minnesota

DUI and DWI are two different ways officers can charge people for driving intoxicated. With a DUI, a law enforcement officer must see the driver swerving, weaving, driving too fast, or showing other outward manifestations of intoxication.

DWIs are much simpler to prove. Offenders could be driving perfectly, hit a roadblock, blow a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher, and receive a DWI. All that matters is that the blood-alcohol level is above the legal limit, not that the driver appears to be intoxicated.

However, for conviction purposes, you can think of DWIs and DUIs as essentially the same.

Why You Should Contest Your DWI in Brainerd MN

Some people think that if they are guilty of DWI, there’s no point in fighting the case. Many times, it’s better to accept the inevitable and get it over with. But a criminal case is usually not one of these times. Even if you think you are guilty, perhaps because you failed a chemical test, you might not be legally guilty. More than likely, there is at least one defense that could either significantly reduce the punishment or prompt the judge to throw the case out of court.

Lawmakers have changed the DWI law, so it is much easier to obtain convictions. Before about 2000, a chemical test was only evidence of intoxication. Now, defendants who have a BAC above the legal limit are intoxicated as a matter of law. As a result, in many jurisdictions, about half the probationers were convicted of DWI. The offense is so serious, especially when considering the direct and collateral consequences, that you could really benefit by getting a DWI Lawyer.

What Is at Stake in a Minnesota DWI?

DWIs in Minnesota can cost up to $10,000. This includes things like tow and impound fees for your vehicle (at least $150) and attorney fees ($1,000–$5,000 for a case that doesn’t go to trial). But it doesn’t include things like the cost for bail, which can reach up to $12,000 for prior offenders.

Yet, the high cost of DWIs isn’t the only thing at stake when you’re convicted. You risk probation, fees, loss of driver’s privileges, prison time, and more.

Probation

Lengthy court supervision and substantial cost are the two biggest direct consequences of this offense. For fourth-degree DWI, which is a first offense, the average Crow Wing County probation length is two years. The average supervision periods increase for each subsequent charge, all the way up to seven years for first-degree DWI (fourth or subsequent offense).

Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay probation fees, too. In Brainerd, probation fees range anywhere from $150–$250.

Fines

There is a substantial cost as well, and the high fine is just the beginning. Typically, when considering fines, court costs, supervision fees, and higher insurance rates, the average cost for a first offense is about $10,000. With the help of a DWI lawyer in Brainerd MN, you have a chance to create the best defense against your charges.

Fines increase further if the offender has priors. For a second DWI conviction, a court can fine you up to $3,000, which is also the minimum fine for third-time offenses. Upon receiving a felony DWI, you could risk paying up to $14,000 in fines.

Jail Time

Many Minnesotans are surprised to learn that DWIs commonly incur jail and/or prison time. The exact sentence length depends on the number of priors and whether it’s a felony-level DWI. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 1st Offense: For offenders with blood-alcohol levels under 0.16, the sentence is up to 90 days in jail. For offenders with blood-alcohol levels above 0.16, the penalty increases to up to 1 year in county jail.
  • 2nd Offense: For second-time offenders with blood-alcohol levels under 0.16, the sentence is up to 90 days in jail. For second-time offenders with blood-alcohol levels above 0.16, the punishment increases to up to 1 year in county jail.
  • 3rd Offense: Third-time offenders’ sentences are up to 1 year in county jail, regardless of blood-alcohol level.
  • Felony Offense: A felony DWI can incur up to 7 years in federal prison.

Offenders who drive impaired and cause bodily harm or death to another party may receive a Criminal Vehicular Operation charge. A conviction for this charge could result in up to a 10-year prison sentence.

Higher Insurance Premiums

Those higher insurance premiums are the most expensive consequence. Most people must obtain high risk SR-22 insurance. In some cases, that may increase your rates by over 60 percent. The higher rate usually remains in force for three years. Afterwards, drivers can shop around for other insurance. But there is no guarantee that their rates will drop substantially.

Drivers’ License Suspension

A DWI conviction can also mean lengthy drivers’ license suspension. That suspension can be up to one year for a first-time offense. Second-time DWI offenders can lose driving privileges for up to two years. Three or more DWI offenses can lead to permanent driver’s license suspension.

Sometimes, a lawyer can arrange a restricted drivers’ license that includes an ignition interlock device. With an ignition interlock device, the offender can regain his or her driving privileges immediately.

Receiving a DWI gross misdemeanor (i.e., driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 or higher) automatically qualifies for an ignition interlock device. The same is true of second-time DWI offenders. If an offender with prior DWIs receives a third or greater offense, the court will order an ignition interlock device for up to six years.

Many Minnesotans depend heavily on their vehicles. So, this possibility alone is a good reason for you to get a DWI lawyer in Brainerd.

Further, there are costs associated with reinstating your driver’s license and getting an ignition interlock device. To challenge your driving restrictions, you must pay $320 to file the motion, attorney fees, and $700 to get your license officially reinstated. Then, your ignition interlock device will cost an additional $125 per month.

Lost Employment Opportunities

When you’re convicted of a DWI in Minnesota, it stays on your record for 10 years. Employers that run background checks will see your prior conviction(s), which could affect your hireability. For example, the following jobs generally won’t employ people with DWI priors:

  • Pipeline and transit jobs
  • Railroad jobs
  • Trucking jobs
  • Aviation jobs
  • Maritime jobs

Teachers, nurses, and doctors may also be negatively affected by DWI convictions. So, if you don’t want to lose your job, it’s absolutely critical to speak to a DWI defense attorney near you.

How Can a DWI Lawyer in Brainerd MN Help Me?

The criminal law system is more like a process. Defendants go from one stage to the next. A Brainerd DWI lawyer provides help at every stage of this process. If you don’t have a DWI lawyer in Brainerd, you are on your own. People in this situation can fight the power and rage against the machine as much as they want. But their criminal cases usually end very badly.

Jail Release in Brainerd, MN

In many misdemeanors, jail release is not much of an issue. The judge gives the defendant a few days in jail, and the case ends. DWI is a lot different. A jail sentence would be a few weeks or months as opposed to a few days. Furthermore, a jail sentence could mean long-term drivers’ license suspension.

Most DWIs are nonviolent misdemeanors. Therefore, jail release usually is not much of a problem. In fact, OR (Own Recognizance) pretrial release might be an option. OR release programs vary. Usually, however, if the defendant pays a small administrative fee and promises to abide by release conditions, the sheriff releases the defendant.

Conditions of Release

These conditions include more than showing up at trial. Most defendants must remain in the county at all times and report monthly to a supervision officer. Additionally, most DWI defendants must have IIDs in their vehicles.

An Ignition Interlock Device is basically a Breathalyzer that’s connected to the ignition. If a specimen is over the limit, which is usually .04, the vehicle won’t start the next time someone turns the key.

Repeat or aggravated DWI is much different. There is basically a presumption that these defendants are a threat to public safety. Therefore, officials only grant bail in limited circumstances.

Bail Factors in Brainerd

A Brainerd DWI lawyer goes to bat for defendants in these situations. At the arraignment hearing, judges consider a wide range of bail factors, such as the defendant’s:

  • Criminal record,
  • Ability to pay,
  • Threat to the public, and
  • Connections to the community.

Jail release is important in a criminal case. Most people, including most jurors, subconsciously assume that people in jail did something wrong.

Selecting the Right Brainerd DWI Lawyer

Unless the case is quite complex, as outlined above, an attorney search process usually begins in earnest after the jail release phase.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel in all criminal cases, including misdemeanor DWI. However, this provision does not guarantee the right to free counsel. Crow Wing County has an excellent public defender’s office. It is large enough to have ample resources, and yet small enough so the attorneys are not overworked. 

For the most part, individual judges have their own rules as to when the public defender is available. Many judges reason, correctly or incorrectly, that if the defendant can afford to make bail, the defendant can afford an attorney. So, a public defender may be unavailable except in jail cases. That probably means that you need a DWI lawyer in Brainerd.

Crow Wing County Criminal Defense Lawyers

In many ways, Crow Wing County criminal defense lawyers are the same. But there are some very important differences as well, such as:

  • Experience: Years of experience are important. But this figure is often deceptive. Many criminal defense lawyers have little trial experience. Instead, they fall into a pattern of accepting the state’s first offer. No one wants an attorney who always looks for the easy way out.
  • Dedication: Successful criminal defense lawyers are passionate about individual rights. They don’t practice criminal defense as a sideshow or just take a few cases for friends and family.
  • Accessibility: Goldilocks sought a dinner, chair, and bed that was neither too hot nor too cold. You do not want a lawyer who is too busy to give your case the attention it deserves. You also don’t want a lawyer who sits in the office and waits for your call. 

Choosing the right Brainerd DWI lawyer might be the most important decision you ever make. But don’t shop around for too long. The faster you make a good decision, the sooner your lawyer starts working for you.

Pretrial Defenses in Brainard MN

The vast majority of Minnesota DWI cases do not go to trial. Instead, an attorney negotiates a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Usually, that agreement includes probation. 

Additionally, Crow Wing County is rather unique in that prosecutors allow defendants to plead guilty to reckless driving, especially in borderline cases. Section 169.13 is a misdemeanor, like both third and fourth-degree DWI. However, reckless driving does not have many of the same collateral consequences. A reckless driving conviction probably means higher auto insurance rates, but they may not be as high. Furthermore, there is no drivers’ license suspension or ignition interlock requirement.

Procedural Defenses

However, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Prosecutors only offer sweet deals like reckless driving if there are serious problems with the evidence. If that’s true, many prosecutors would rather secure convictions for lesser-included offenses than having an additional L on their win-loss records. At the pretrial stage, Brainers DWI lawyers usually concentrate on procedural defenses, such as:

  • No Reasonable Suspicion: This drunk driving defense is especially common in roadside checkpoint matters. Officers don’t need reasonable suspicion, which is basically an evidence-based hinch, to detain motorists at DWI roadblocks. However, these checkpoints must meet specific legal requirements, mostly regarding the checkpoint’s setup and operation. A failure in any area could invalidate the checkpoint and therefore the stop.
  • Failure to Warn: When officers demand breath or blood samples, they must administer statutory warnings. There could be several issues in this area. Many statutory warnings are mostly Legalese and difficult to understand, especially if, as the state claims, the person was intoxicated at the time. Furthermore, the officer who reads these rights must normally speak the defendant’s language. An officer who speaks, reads, and writes only English cannot warn non-English speakers of the test consequences, even if the words are in the defendant’s language.
  • Failure to Mirandize: All criminal defendants are entitled to these general warnings, such as the right to remain silent. Officers must administer these warnings before custodial interrogation begins. “Custody” means the defendant does not feel free to leave. Arguably, therefore, officers should definitely administer these warnings before they ask the defendant if s/he has been drinking.
  • Technical Chemical Test Issues: Today’s Breathalyzers are extremely sophisticated and sensitive devices. They require regular maintenance from qualified professionals. Judges have thrown out dozens of cases, or even hundreds of cases, because of technical Breathalyzer flaws.

An experienced DWI defense attorney can evaluate this evidence in a case and provide you with your best options. In other words, it’s not necessarily a good idea to jump at a wet reckless plea. If the evidence is especially weak, a trial may be in your best interests.

DWI Trial Defenses in Brainard MN

There are basically two kinds of DWI trials, at least from an evidence standpoint. Test cases rely on, wait for it, chemical test results. Non-test cases usually hinge on the approved Field Sobriety Tests.

The burden of proof is the same in both kinds of trials. Prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Minnesota courts have a not-very-helpful definition of reasonable doubt. “The jury has a high degree of certainty about the defendant’s guilt, although they need not be 100 percent convinced.”

An Example of the Need for Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

If Oscar drives a grey Silverado and a grey Silverado is in a bar parking lot, Oscar is probably inside. But that evidence is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Lots of people drive grey Silverados. Moreover, even if the license plate number matches, Oscar’s son, who frequently borrows his dad’s pickup, could be the person in the store.

Almost all DWI cases involve Breathalyzer tests. Police officers only administer blood tests in limited situations. And, although they have a Constitutional right to refuse, most people voluntarily provide samples.

Challenging Breathalyzer Test Results in Brainard and Crow Wing County

Contrary to popular myth, a Brainerd DWI lawyer can successfully challenge Breathalyzer test results. We discussed some technical flaws above. Now, let’s look at some scientific flaws. Some possible issues include:

  • Mouth Alcohol: If the defendant burps, vomits, or belches in the fifteen minutes prior to the test, alcohol particles from the stomach rush into the mouth and skew the results. Officers are supposed to watch subjects closely in the fifteen minutes before they test. But the law doesn’t enforce this monitoring period very closely.
  • Temperature Issues: As mentioned, Breathalyzers are very sensitive instruments. They are particularly sensitive to air temperature changes. The mercury often rises or falls quickly in Minnesota. Body temperature could be a factor as well. A 1.8-degree fever, which is probably not high enough to call in sick, could affect Breathalyzer results by 7 percent.
  • Ketone Levels: The liver secretes ketones to convert glucose into energy. Diabetics usually have very high ketone levels. So do smokers and certain dieters. Most Breathalyzers read ketones as ethanol. Therefore, in many situations, the Breathalyzer result is artificially high.

To point out these flaws to jurors, especially in a .08, .09, or other borderline BAC case, Brainerd DWI lawyers often partner with degreed chemists. Such professionals are much more credible than the Breathalyzer techs whom prosecutors usually rely on.

No-Evidence DWI Cases

Other test cases are no-evidence cases. There is no evidence, or a clear lack of evidence, on a non-driving element. 

Now assume Oscar met his son Felix at the bar. They both get drunk. On the way home, Oscar rear-ends Jack. By the time officers arrive, both Oscar and Jack have exited the vehicle. Unless a credible eyewitness saw Oscar behind the wheel, prosecutors would be hard pressed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was driving the truck.

Call Today to Speak With a Brainerd DWI Lawyer at Carlson & Jones

If you’re ever charged with driving under the influence, your first call should be to a DWI lawyer in Brainerd. Experienced criminal attorneys know the pretrial and trial DWI defense strategies to get your charges dropped.

Have you been arrested for a DWI in Minnesota? Because of the serious nature of a DWI, you need a serious lawyer. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Brainerd, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

 

Originally published on June 17, 2021 and updated on October 21, 2021.

How Much Should I Ask For in a Personal Injury Settlement in Brainerd, MN?

The average personal injury settlement varies significantly, so it is difficult to know what to ask for. The average dog bite settlement in Minnesota is $38, 302. But a nip which barely breaks the skin is most likely not worth $38,000. On the other end of the scale, if the dog bite was fatal, $38,000 is probably insufficient.

Most people have some experience in this area. As a buyer or seller or both, they have negotiated the price of a used house or guitar or laptop. These haggles usually account for the item’s economic value and the prevailing market conditions (i.e. how much are people willing to pay for that item in that area).

When a Brainerd injury attorney ascertains the value of a personal injury case, the process is a bit different. Yes, economic and market factors come into play. But there are some other things to consider as well. Additionally, in most cases, the other side also has an attorney who is a very good negotiator. So, these talks often take some time.

Calculating Economic Losses

Accident victims are usually entitled to compensation for economic and noneconomic losses. Economic loss calculation is generally straightforward. Most Brainerd injury attorneys look at the police accident report and the medical records.

The incident report usually details the severity of the accident. As mentioned, there is a big difference between a nip and a bite which causes permanent injuries. There is also a big difference between a fender-bender car crash which only causes property damages and a fatal, high-speed collision.

To prepare incident reports, most emergency responders examine the scene and interview witnesses. So, this report is often quite accurate.

But that’s not always true, especially in incidents like vehicle-on-pedestrian accidents. Typically, the victim either does not survive this accident or is too seriously injured to give a statement. As a result, the police accident report only contains one side of the story. And, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) usually sugarcoats the incident.

Therefore, in these cases, a Brainerd injury attorney often must dig deeper. Frequently, attorneys partner with accident reconstruction engineers or other such professionals in these situations.

Medical records are occasionally incomplete as well. But for the most part, these records accurately track things like the patient’s medical condition, treatment, prognosis, and cost.

Health care is one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the country. As a result, there is a lot of bureaucratic red tape, especially from various privacy laws. So, these records are not always available to the general public. A good Brainerd injury attorney knows how to cut through this red tape and quickly obtain these records. The faster these documents reach a lawyer’s office, the more time an attorney has to evaluate them.

Brainerd Injury Attorneys and Calculating Non Economic Losses

Economic loss calculation is basically a science, and noneconomic loss calculation is basically an art. Non Economic losses include intangible damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (companionship).

Most lawyers use a multiplier to calculate noneconomic losses. They multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case, as outlined above, and some intangible factors, which are discussed below.

These preliminary calculations are a starting point for settlement negotiations. If an attorney demands $100,000, the insurance company usually counters with a much lower offer. If these two figures are not too far apart, an early negotiated settlement is usually possible. But frequently, the insurance company responds with a low-ball offer or denies liability altogether. So, most cases do not settle quickly.

Fine-Tuning the Amount

Before they negotiate a price for something like a guitar, most people do some research and determine what amount a used guitar will probably fetch at that time. Brainerd injury attorneys do basically the same thing.

Venue is a good example. Some counties have rather conservative residents who often gravitate toward insurance companies. Other countries have rather liberal residents who often side with accident victims. In some cases, these differences are almost inconsequential, In other cases, these differences could mean thousands of extra dollars.

Punitive damages sometimes come into play as well. Juries can award these additional damages if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk. Punitive damages are especially common in medical malpractice and defective product claims. In other words, this final element goes back to the facts of the case, which were examined above.

Conclusion

Personal injury settlements vary from case to case. Depending on the case facts and circumstances surrounding your injury, a Brainerd personal injury attorney will be able to help you determine how much your case is worth. A good attorney will take into consideration the economic, the non-economic, and other damages you have incurred as a result of the injury when arriving at a fair amount. They will also protect your rights through the course of the case proceedings, and fight to ensure that you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Reach Out to a Thorough Personal Injury Lawyer in Brainerd

It can be incredibly frustrating when you or a loved one has to suffer personal injuries due to the fault or negligence of another. Your physical and mental health as well as finances can take a turn for the worse. You can be sure that the insurance companies will do whatever they can to keep you from getting the financial compensation you deserve. As you can see, the personal injury claims settlement process is multifaceted and complex. We’re here to help. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. at (855) 976-2444. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

A Brainerd, MN DWI Lawyer Looks at Some Possible Defenses

Alcohol-involved wrecks usually have both civil and criminal consequences for Minnesota drivers. In civil court, victims must only establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence. That’s the lowest standard of proof in Minnesota. But in criminal court, prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the highest standard of proof in Minnesota.

Essentially, the state’s evidence must be so overwhelming that it not only overcomes the presumption of innocence. The proof must also firmly convince jurors that the defendant is guilty. Maybe or probably guilty is not good enough.

Because the burden of proof is so high, a Brainerd, MN DWI lawyer has several options in terms of a successful defense. The result of this approach could be a complete dismissal of charges, a not-guilty verdict at trial, or a plea to a lesser included offense.

Procedural Issues

Most DWI arrests begin with traffic stops. Typically, officers can pull over motorists based on little more than a hunch. In a 2015 Iowa case, a federal judge ruled that officers could pull over a motorist for traveling 1mph over the speed limit, even though the speeding stop was just a pretext and the officers knew the charges would not hold up in court.

Sometimes, however, even this tiny bit of proof is unavailable in a DWI case. Informer tips are a good example. Frequently, these tips are so vague (blue sedan eastbound on Highway 210) that they have no value in court whatsoever.

If the stop was illegal, then the arrest was illegal as well, under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. It does not matter if the driver was passed-out drunk behind the wheel.

Minnesota law enforcement officers also periodically set up DWI checkpoints. These roadblocks often appear around the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, and other holidays associated with drinking and driving. 

Officers do not need evidence of wrongdoing to pull over motorists at checkpoints. However, these roadblocks must meet rigid requirements. If they fall short, a Brainerd, MN DWI lawyer can invalidate the checkpoint and therefore invalidate the arrest.

Brainerd, MN DWI Lawyers and Intoxication Defenses

After they are pulled over, about 80 percent of defendants provide a chemical breath or blood sample. If the sample shows the defendant’s BAC was above the legal limit, the defendant is guilty as a matter of law.

Chemical tests are not always accurate. For example, if a defendant burped, vomited, or belched in the fifteen minutes prior to a Breathalyzer test, alcohol particles from the stomach gush into the mouth. As a result, the Brethalyzer’s BAC estimate might be artificially high.

Furthermore, chemical tests are not always admissible. If the Breathalyzer had not been calibrated properly or recently, any results might be legally inadmissible.

In the remaining 20 percent of DWI cases, prosecutors must use circumstantial evidence to prove intoxication. Such evidence usually comes from the four approved field sobriety tests, which are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The DWI eye test determines if the defendant has nystagmus, a condition also known as lazy eye. Intoxication is only one cause of nystagmus, and it is not even the leading cause.
  • Portable Breathalyzer: Some of the Breathalyzer’s flaws were discussed above. Portable Breathalyzers are even more inaccurate than the larger ones used at police stations.
  • One-Leg Stand: People with any mobility impairment at all usually cannot stand on one leg for more than a few seconds, whether they are drunk or sober.
  • Walk and Turn: Environmental factors often affect these test results. For example, it is much more difficult to walk an imaginary line heel-to-toe than it is to walk an actual line, like a parking lot stripe, in this fashion.

Some officers administer additional unapproved tests, like Romberg’s balance test (head back, eyes closed, and arms extended test). These results are usually only admissible for limited purposes.

Non-Intoxication Defenses

Frequently, the “intoxication” element is the only real issue in a DWI case. But in many situations, a Brainerd, MN DWI lawyer can challenge the “driving” element as well.

According to the Minnesota DWI law, “driving” is more like “operating.” The vehicle need not be moving. If the defendant is behind the wheel and the vehicle is drivable, DWI charges will probably hold up in court, at least with regard to “driving.” Sometimes, however, the defendant does not have the keys, the car is out of gas, or there are other extenuating circumstances.

DWI collisions are another example. Generally, by the time emergency responders arrive, the defendant has left the vehicle. Unless a witness places the defendant behind the wheel at or near the time of the crash, there may be insufficient evidence on this point.

Other non-intoxication defenses include the public/private place issue. Driving while intoxicated is only illegal if the defendant was in a public place. Shopping center, apartment complex, and some housing development parking lots are not public places, even if they are open to the public. A private driveway is not a public place either. The street directly in front of a private residence is in a grey area.

Connect with a Dedicated Attorney

There is a big difference between a DWI arrest and a DWI conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN DWI lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. The sooner you call us, the sooner we start fighting for you.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer in Brainerd, MN Talks About the Different Burdens of Proof

Some people might remember the O.J. Simpson murder saga in the early and mid-1990s. In 1995, after a long and sensational criminal trial, a jury acquitted the former football star of double murder charges. About a year later, another jury heard basically the same evidence and concluded that Simpson was responsible for the deaths. That’s perhaps the best example of the different burdens of proof in court cases, as outlined below.

Apropos of nothing, in 2016, NFL “concussion doctor” Bennet Omalu said he would “bet my medical license” that Simpson had a serious brain injury. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain injury commonly associated with football players, would explain Simpson’s erratic behavior and fits of rage, according to Dr. Omalu. But that’s the subject of another blog.

The different burdens of proof affect the way a criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN approaches different cases. Since the defendant is presumed innocent in the United States, the burden of proof is on the state. So, if an attorney casts doubt on the state’s case, the defendant often goes free. Alternatively, weak evidence gives a criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN an edge during settlement negotiations.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Minnesota law usually defines a reasonable doubt as a doubt based on reason and common sense. Many courts have criticized this definition, arguing that it is akin to saying “a white horse is a horse that is white.” Nevertheless, that’s the generally accepted definition in The Gopher State. Some variations, such as reasonable doubt “does not mean a fanciful or capricious doubt, nor does it mean beyond all possibility of doubt,” are acceptable.

DWI-collision cases are a good illustration of the way this standard works in practice. Assume Ben and Jerry hit another car in an intersection. Ben and Jerry are both intoxicated. By the time emergency responders arrive, they have exited the vehicle. Officers arrest Ben for DWI.

Wright County prosecutors could probably prove Ben was in the car, but it would be difficult for them to prove Ben behind the wheel. Another witness, such as the other driver in the collision, would have to testify that Ben emerged from the driver’s side. That testimony would not prove he was driving beyond a shadow of a doubt, but it would establish that fact beyond a reasonable doubt.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Brainerd, MN and Clear and Convincing Evidence

Child custody, financial fraud, and certain juvenile cases commonly employ this standard of evidence. C&C basically means “the evidence is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue.”

Let’s return to the previous example and change the facts a bit. Now assume that Jerry told officers Ben was driving the car. There are a number of reasons to question Jerry’s statement. He was drunk, so his memory and perception are questionable. Additionally, he might have been tattling so officers would arrest Ben instead of Jerry.

So, if the standard was beyond a reasonable doubt, Jerry’s statement might not be enough to convict Ben. But if the standard was clear and convincing evidence, which is a step lower, Jerry’s statement might hold up in court.

Preponderance of the Evidence

Typically, this final standard determines what an individual must prove, as opposed to what the state must prove. A preponderance of the proof (more likely than not) is the standard in most personal injury cases. It’s the standard the Simpson civil jury used.

Picture two stacks of typing paper sitting side by side. Both stacks have the same number of sheets. If a criminal defense lawyer in Brainerd, MN adds one sheet of paper to the stack on the left, it has more paper than the stack on the right. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.

Once more, let’s look at our DWI-collision example. Now assume the car is abandoned by the time emergency responders arrive. An investigation reveals that Ben owned the car. It’s more likely than not that a car’s owner was driving the vehicle at any given time, unless the owner had an airtight alibi. So, by a preponderance of the evidence, Ben was probably driving the car. Proving intoxication, however, would be a much more difficult matter.

Reach Out to Savvy Lawyers

The burden of proof affects the way attorneys approach different cases. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Brainerd, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

U-Haul Truck Crash Liability Issues and Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers

Statistically, most people move between May and September. So, we are now well into the biggest moving time of the year. Many people try to save money by renting U-Haul or other moving trucks and handling most everything themselves. As a result, it’s not too unusual to see several of these trucks on area roads at any given time. These operators have little experience driving large trucks and often over-rely on GPS navigation devices. So, in short, they are dangerous.

Since these operators do not own these vehicles, the traditional negligent entrustment rule would seem to apply. This doctrine holds vehicle owners, like U-Haul, responsible for car crash damages if the loan their property to incompetent drivers who cause accidents. But the Graves Amendment, an obscure piece of federal legislation, changes things significantly, as outlined below.

Many vehicle renters have little or no insurance. So, if you were hurt in a U-Haul truck crash, it’s important to obtain compensation from the company. Fortunately, a good Brainerd, MN injury lawyer has some was to get around the Graves Amendment and get victims the compensation they need and deserve. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

The Negligent Entrustment Rule

Negligent entrustment is one of the most common vicarious liability theories in Minnesota. Most of these cases involve teen drivers, and Minnesota has a very broad family purpose doctrine. If a family member was using a car fro a family purpose, even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) took a side trip and the vehicle owner did not know about the trip, family-sanctioned use is presumed. So, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must only prove incompetence. Evidence of incompetence, in roughly descending order, includes:

  • No drivers’ license,
  • Safety-suspended drivers’ license,
  • Poor driving record with recent at-fault collisions,
  • Driving in violation of a license restriction, like no night driving, and
  • Poor driving record with older collisions which were the other driver’s fault.

Note that a drivers’ license record check can uncover evidence of incompetency. This area is rather significant in terms of the first Graves Amendment loophole.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and the “Not Otherwise Negligent” Requirement

Lawmakers approved the Graves Amendment in the early 2000s. Rep. Sam Graves (D-MO) wanted to protect Enterprise, U-Haul, and other such companies from liability judgments by making the negligent entrustment rule inapplicable in these cases.

Back then, it was almost impossible to run a drivers’ license check outside the DMV, except for very limited purposes. Now, technology and privacy laws have changed. Arguably, it is now the industry standard at places like U-Haul outlets to independently verify drivers’ licenses. Failure to adhere to an industry standard is typically negligence.

Section (a)(2) of the Graves Amendment states immunity only applies if the owner or agent was not negligent during the U-Haul rental transaction. Given the drivers’ license developments mentioned above, agents or owners who only perform visual license inspections are probably negligent.

The “Trade or Business” Requirement

Furthermore, under Section (a)(1), immunity only applies if the store was “engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles.” The brief Graves Amendment was an add-on to a large federal transportation bill. Curiously, the law defines some key terms, like “owner” and “agent,” but it does not define “trade or business.” So, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must look elsewhere to determine its meaning.

The Uniform Commercial Code, which is frequently cited in legal claims, defines a “merchant,” which is similar, as a person with special knowledge about a particular product who deals in that particular kind of product. This definition does not apply to most U-Haul retailers.

Most of these retailers are moving supply companies that happen to rent a few trucks. Vehicle rental is not their primary business line. Additionally, almost no U-Haul workers have special knowledge about the trucks on the lot. They know how to drive them, but that’s about it.

In court, the insurance company/U-Haul company usually has the burden of proof on this point. Its lawyers must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Graves Amendment immunity applies. Given this discussion, that showing is unlikely.

Connect with a Hard-Hitting Attorney

The negligent entrustment rule usually applies in U-Haul crashes, despite the Graves Amendment. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Should a Brainerd, MN Criminal Defense Lawyer Represent Me at the DWI ALR Hearing?

Few other offenses have more indirect consequences than DWIs. One such collateral consequence is the Administrative License Revocation process. If the defendant’s BAC level was above the legal limit at the time of arrest, the state automatically suspends the person’s drivers’ license. The same thing happens if the defendant refuses to provide a chemical sample.

However, because of the Fourteenth Amendment, states like Minnesota usually cannot “automatically” do anything. The Fourteenth Amendment requires due process of law, and at a minimum, that means notice and an opportunity to be heard.

This right is an important one, but like so many other rights, it is just ink on paper unless a Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer enforces it. ALR hearings are difficult, but certainly not impossible, to win. And, there is more than one way to “win” one of these hearings. Keep reading to learn more about these things.

Possible Defenses

ALR hearings are difficult to win because the administrative law judge is normally a paid DMV employee. Additionally, the ALJ serves as prosecutor, judge, and jury. Finally, this proceeding is not technically a criminal proceeding. So, many of the normal Constitutional protections do not apply. For example, the ALJ may force defendants to testify against themselves.

Moreover, the burden of proof is rather low in ALR hearings. The state must only establish that officers had probable cause to demand a sample and the defendant either failed the test or refused to take it. “Probable cause” basically means officers believed that a crime had been committed.

This standard might be low, but it is higher than a reasonable suspicion, which is basically an evidence-based hunch. So, unless the state presents substantial proof, a Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer can challenge the lack of evidence.

The Field Sobriety Tests are a good illustration. Normally, officers depend on these four tests to establish probable cause in a DWI. These tests are:

  • Horizonta Gaze Nystagmus (DWI eye test),
  • Walk and Turn,
  • One Leg Stand, and
  • Portable Breathalyzer.

Some officers administer unapproved field sobriety tests, like Romberg’s balance test (head back, eyes closed, arms extended test). But these controversial test results might not be admissible in the ALR hearing.

Frequently, defendants refuse to perform any of these tests. Or, they perform one or two and then refuse to go on. Either way, there might not be enough evidence to establish probable cause.

There is a preliminary matter as well. Generally, officers pull over DWI defendants because they saw them commit traffic violations or they got caught in a DWI roadblock. Sometimes, however, officers rely on more subjective proof, like furtive movements behind the steering wheel. But a nervous-looking driver is not probable cause in Minnesota.

Why You Should Work with a Brainerd, MN Criminal Defense Lawyer

If left to their own devices, many ALJs would probably ignore these things and always side with police officers. So, a Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer must diligently research the law and present these findings in a compelling way.

Once these defenses are presented, the ALJ might at least reduce the suspension period or probate part of the license suspension term.

A Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer can also help a defendant obtain an occupational drivers’ license, which is called a work permit in Minnesota. This limited license allows people to drive to and from work, to and from school, to and from the doctor, and to perform some essential household functions, like buying food. A waiting period applies, as follows:

  • Fifteen days for a first work permit,
  • 90 days for a second work permit, and
  • 180 days for a third work permit.

Longer waiting periods apply in complex cases, such as DWI-manslaughter or DWI-collision cases. Defendants cannot drive with their work permits until the waiting period expires.

After a fourth DWI, a work permit might not be available. But that doesn’t matter much, because at this point, the state usually revokes the defendant’s license permanently.

A Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer might still be able to help in these situations. A little-used loophole, called the B-card, is available in these situations. If these people complete alcohol treatment and sign alcohol abstinence pledges, the state can issue a limited drivers’ license after a waiting period expires. That waiting period is usually between one and three years.

Any alcohol use, even during something like a religious ceremony, cancels the license. It is a gross misdemeanor to drive with an invalid B-card.

Reach Out to a Dedicated Attorney

A DWI arrest does not necessarily mean an interruption or cancellation of your driving privileges. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Vehicle Collision Defenses and Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers

The average car wreck causes about $20,000 in economic losses, such as property damage, medical bills, and lost wages. Depending on the facts of the case, compensation for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, might be two or three times the amount of economic losses. Therefore, in any given vehicle collision case, there is a substantial amount of money at stake.

Despite what TV commercials might imply, the insurance company is not “on your side” if you are a car crash victim. Instead, many companies look for legal loopholes that might reduce or deny compensation. Keep reading to find out more about some of these loopholes.

A Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, on the other hand, is definitely on your side. Lawyers collect evidence which supports compensation claims and then effectively present that evidence in court or at the bargaining table. As a result, victims obtain the financial resources they need to put their shattered lives back together.

The Seatbelt Defense

Like every other state except New Hampshire, Minnesota has a mandatory seatbelt law. In fact, the Gopher State’s seatbelt law is broader than most. All occupants, whether they are in the front or back seat and whether they are adults or children, must wear seatbelts. And, small children must be in age-appropriate car seats.

In many states, if victims do not wear seatbelts, insurance companies can at least reduce the amount of compensation they receive. Furthermore, many jurors refuse to award damages in these cases. Many jurors feel that, if unrestrained people are injured in car crashes, it’s their own fault.

However, in Minnesota, the so-called seatbelt defense is nonexistent. Evidence of seatbelt non-use is flatly inadmissible in civil court. Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must be vigilant in this area. Insurance defense lawyers often try to suggest that maybe the victim was not wearing a seatbelt. Such implications are illegal in Minnesota.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Contributory Negligence

Thanks to Section 169.685, many insurance company lawyers do not even try to talk about seatbelt non-use. The penalties for violating this law are too great.

Contributory negligence is on the other end of the spectrum. Comparative fault is perhaps the most common insurance company defense in Minnesota car wreck claims. This doctrine shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) onto the victim.

Assume Driver made a rolling right turn at a red light. Since she was looking to the left watching for oncoming traffic, she did not see Pedestrian, who was crossing the street outside the crosswalk. Technically, both parties are partially at fault. Driver failed to obey a traffic signal, and Pedestrian was jaywalking.

In these situations, the Crow Wing County jury must listen to the evidence and divide fault between the victim and tortfeasor on a percentage basis.

The percentage division is important, because contributory negligence laws differ slightly in different states. Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if Driver was at least 51 percent responsible for the wreck, Driver is liable for a proportionate share of damages.

Insurance companies bear the burden of proof and the burden of persuasion in comparative fault cases. First, lawyers must convince the judge that the victim’s fault substantially contributed to the accident. Then, they must convince jurors of the same thing. Each time, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer can challenge the insurance company’s evidence.

Sudden Emergency/Last Clear Chance

At worst, contributory negligence usually reduces the amount of compensation the victim receives. Sudden emergency and its legal cousin eliminate compensation altogether.

The sudden emergency defense often comes up in pedestrian claims. Frequently, insurance company lawyers argue the victim “darted out into traffic” and so a collision was inevitable. Legally, this defense applies if the tortfeasor reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency.

“Sudden emergency” has a limited meaning in this context. The label only applies to unexpected situations, like a lightning strike. Everyday events, such as careless pedestrians, are not sudden emergencies.

Last clear chance often arises in rear-end or head-on crash claims. Assume Sam crossed the center line and Brenda did not swerve or do anything else to avoid the crash. Brenda could be legally responsible for the wreck, even though Sam drove recklessly.

There’s a big difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. Frequently, because of traffic or other conditions, sudden emergency maneuvers might cause a more serious wreck than the one they avoid.

Contact a Dedicated Attorney

Insurance companies often cite legal loopholes to avoid paying fair compensation to accident victims. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury claims.

Dog Bite Injuries and Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers

Pet owners are common in communities across America. So, it’s not surprising that dogs bite almost five million Americans a year. Some of these incidents are not much more than annoying. But many of them cause serious physical and emotional injuries, as outlined below.

Largely due to the complex nature of these injuries, along with rising hospitalization costs since the end of the Great Recession, the average dog bite settlement amount has increased 76 percent since 2003. These settlement amounts usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Occasionally, these settlements also include additional punitive damages.

To successfully resolve animal attack claims, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must understand the nature of dog bite injuries and how they affect victims as well as families.

Physical Injuries

Every dog bite case is different. But most serious injury claims involve large mastiff breed animals, like pit bulls or rottweilers, and small children or other vulnerable victims.

When a big dog launches itself toward a small child, the knockdown by itself usually causes serious injuries. Some of them include:

  • Head Injuries: Contrary to popular myth, the impact of hitting the ground is not the only issue here. The sudden, violent motion might be enough to cause a head injury. This motion causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull.
  • Internal Injuries: This same force causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. Since these organs lack protective skin layers, they often bleed profusely. Frequently, doctors have a hard time identifying and stopping internal bleeding.
  • Broken Bones: When children fall off their bikes, the broken bones usually set easily and heal completely. But when large dogs attack small children, the broken bones do not mend nearly as easily. Doctors typically use metal screws or plates to set them, and even after physical therapy, there may be some permanent loss of use.

In most cases, the knockdown is just the beginning. When dogs bite, their teeth cause tearing lacerations and deep puncture wounds. The lacerations often require delicate reconstructive surgery to correct, and the deep puncture wounds make the aforementioned internal bleeding even worse. In fact, many small children lose so much blood that they are on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders arrive.

Dog bite injuries have very high infection rates. The most common bacterial infections are Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Capnocytophaga, and Pasteurella. If the victim had a pre-existing condition or a compromised immune system, as is often the case, these infections are often life-threatening.

A tiny amount of bacteria can cause a serious anaphylactic or other reaction. So, if a dog bites your child, it’s always important to see a doctor straightaway, even if the child does not seem seriously injured.

Brainerd, MN injury lawyers do more than obtain compensation for all these medical bills. Attorneys also arrange for victims to receive prompt medical care, usually at no upfront cost. Providers who focus on dog bite injuries typically provide this care. These providers know how to identify and treat things like head injuries and bacterial infections. These conditions are normally hard to diagnose and address.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and Emotional Animal Attack Injuries

Many child victims develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Frequently, the symptoms do not appear for several months. So, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must not move to settle such cases too quickly. If that happens, the victims might not receive fair compensation for all their injuries.

PTSD is a physical brain injury. It is not a processing disorder. Therefore, PTSD is permanent. Once brain cells are damaged, they never regenerate. That being said, extensive therapy can address symptoms like nightmares, depression, hypervigilance, and flashbacks. So, former victims can still have normal childhoods.

Your Claim for Damages

To obtain the aforementioned compensation, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers have several options. Minnesota has a very broad strict liability law. Owners are technically responsible for damages even if the dog had never bitten anyone before and had never shown any dangerous propensities.

Scienter (knowledge) is another option. Owners are liable for damages if they knew their animals were potentially dangerous yet they did nothing to keep them away from people. Evidence of knowledge includes previous attacks and pre-bite behavior, like loud barking or sudden lunging.

Insurance company defenses in dog bite claims usually revolve around the assumption of the risk rule. Specific facts include provocative behavior or a “Beware of Dog” sign. These defenses do not always hold up in court. In Minnesota, provocation is far more than aggressive teasing. And, warning signs are only legally valid in certain situations.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Animal attack victims are entitled to substantial compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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Brainerd, MN 56401

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3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

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