Car Crash Evidence and Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers

To obtain compensation for their injuries, victims must establish key facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Imagine there are two stacks of typing paper side by side. Both stacks have the same number of sheets. If someone moves one sheet from the right to the left, the stack on the left is bigger than the one on the right. That’s what a preponderance of the evidence means.

Generally, the key facts involve negligence. That negligence could be a lack of ordinary care or a violation of a safety statute. In defective product car crash cases, like a tire blow-out or defective Takata airbag, the victim/plaintiff must only prove cause by a preponderance of the proof.

So, a good Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer must be more than a good litigator. An attorney must also be a good investigator. Since the evidence collection process is so critical, many lawyers partner with accident reconstructionists, private investigators, or other such professionals during this phase of a car crash claim.

Traditional Evidence Sources

Frequently, Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers use a combination of medical bills, the police accident report, and the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony to build successful damage claims.

Medical bills are critical because, in many injury cases, medical expenses are the largest damage category. IN a serious injury claim, the medical bills often exceed $100,000. Additionally, these records often contain treatment notes which indicate things like the victim’s pain level. These notations are relevant to the noneconomic damages in the case.

All these physician records are usually admissible in a Wright County civil court. That’s assuming a Buffalo, MN personal injury attorney lays the proper foundation.

A police accident report usually contains an accident narrative. The officer pieces together the physical evidence to create a detailed picture of the accident. Generally, police accident reports carry a great deal of weight with jurors.

Moreover, the police accident report usually includes a list of witnesses. That list serves as a starting point for additional evidence-gathering, if it is necessary.

Most jurors want to hear from the victim in a personal injury case, even though the victim’s testimony is technically not necessary in most cases. It’s important for a Buffalo, MN personal injury attorney to properly prepare the victim to be a witness. The testimony must not sound rehearsed. But, the victim must know what to say, and what not to say, during cross-examination.

Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and Nontraditional Evidence

These sources of evidence are normally reliable, but that’s not always true. The police accident report is a good example. In terms of evidence collection, even the most experienced emergency responder is not an accident reconstructionist. Additionally, if the victim was killed or seriously injured, the police report narrative might only contain one side of the story.

Electronic evidence, such as the Event Data Recorder, often fills in the gap. Much like a black box flight data recorder inside a commercial airplane, a vehicle’s EDR measures and records things like:

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

Tech-savvy Wright County jurors often respond very well to electronic evidence. And, from a legal standpoint, it is more reliable than eyewitness testimony or other kinds of proof. Assuming the gadget was working properly, a computer is never biased or inaccurate.

However, this critical evidence might not be available, unless a Buffalo, MN personal injury attorney is very proactive. Minnesota has strict vehicle information privacy laws, and a lawyer must know how to overcome them. Moreover, unless a lawyer sends a spoliation letter, the insurance company might “accidentally” destroy the EDR.

Other kinds of electronic evidence, such as a commercial vehicle’s Electronic Logging Device, might be important as well. ELDs are often critical in drowsy driving claims. These gadgets track HOS (Hours of Service) compliance. If a tortfeasor (negligent driver) did not follow rules regarding driving caps and mandatory rest periods, the tortfeasor might be legally responsible for a crash as a matter of law.

Damages in a car crash claim normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Normally, there is a direct connection between the strength of the evidence in a case and the amount of damages the jury awards.

Contact a Tenacious Lawyer

All successful car wreck claims are built on foundations of solid evidence. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

How Do Hutchinson, MN Lawyers Resolve Truck Crash Claims?

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

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

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

Evidence Collection

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

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

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

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

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

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and Legal Issues

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

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

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

Endgame

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with a Hard-Hitting Attorney

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

How Can a Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyer Overcome Common Motorcycle Crash Defenses?

On average, motorcycle crashes are twenty-seven times deadlier than four-wheel vehicle crashes. So, for survivors and insurance companies, the financial stakes are much higher. Insurance companies that generally settle claims quickly batten down the hatches. And, insurance companies that normally contest car crash claims fight motorcycle wreck claims even harder.

Many times, insurance company strategies hinge upon one of the defenses listed below. Generally, insurance company lawyers have the burden of proof and the burden of persuasion in these situations.

So, to obtain maximum compensation, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer must do more than prepare a solid damages claim. Good lawyers also anticipate insurance company defenses, so they can refute them in court. This dual approach is usually the best way to obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Helmet Defense

Minnesota has a limited motorcycle helmet law. Additionally, there are multiple studies and statistics which at least purport to show a relationship between helmet use and injury reduction. For these reasons, many Crow Wing County victims believe that, if they were helmetless, they are ineligible for compensation.

Insurance companies count on this attitude. They hope that this belief prevents victims from consulting a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer.

But not so fast. The so-called helmet defense is flatly illegal in Minnesota. Insurance company lawyers cannot bring up helmet non-use in either the liability or damages portion of a negligence trial. So, helmet non-use is also irrelevant during pretrial settlement negotiations.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Contributory Negligence

Comparative fault is probably the most common insurance company defense in vehicle collision claims. This legal loophole might apply if both parties were arguably at fault for a crash. For example, a rider might have been speeding when a tortfeasor (negligent driver) illegally pulled into the rider’s lane.

As mentioned, insurance companies have the burden of proof, and the burden of persuasion, in these cases. Here’s how that works in this example. First, the insurance company must convince the judge that the defense is legally available. That’s probably not the case unless the rider was excessively speeding.

Then, the insurance company must convince a jury that the defense applies. Generally, the insurance company must present additional evidence of rider carelessness, like lane-splitting. If the jury applies the defense, the jury must divide fault on a percentage basis between the victim and tortfeasor.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still responsible for a proportionate share of damages. Therefore, in most cases, the contributory negligence defense only reduces the victim’s damages

Last Clear Chance

This legal loophole is a bit like contributory negligence. However, if the last clear chance defense applies, the tortfeasor is not liable for damages at all.

Let’s return to the previous example. Insurance company lawyers could argue that the victim had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck. When the rider saw the tortfeasor change lanes illegally, the rider had a duty to change lanes or take other action to avoid the crash. At least, that’s how these defense works in theory.

In practice, it is almost impossible for riders to safely make sudden moves on their bikes. In most cases, they would lose control of their rides and cause a more serious accident than the one they prevented. That’s especially true if weather, traffic, and other conditions are anything less than ideal.

Motorcycle Prejudice

Unlike the first two, the motorcycle prejudice defense is not found in any law book. But it is real, and Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must be prepared to deal with it.

Many jurors believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs. Jurors who remember the Hell’s Angel days or the Twin Peaks motorcycle gang shootout in Waco are more likely to hold this belief. Frequently, insurance company lawyers make subtle emotional appeals during jury selection, opening arguments, and closing arguments. The motorcycle prejudice defense is especially common if the contributory negligence defense is also an issue.

To combat the motorcycle prejudice, many Brainerd, MN accident lawyers try to remove biased jurors. Judges allow these removals, in most cases. Alternatively, a lawyer might accentuate the victim’s positive aspects, so s/he does not fit the motorcycle gang member mold.

Connect with an Experienced Attorney

Insurance companies have several go-to defenses in motorcycle crash claims, but they are all flawed. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

Lawyers in Brainerd, MN and the Five Leading Causes of Accidental Death

Too many times, first responders are unable to save accident victims. Often, these individuals expire before responders even reach the scene.

Minnesota has one of the broadest wrongful death laws in the country which allows survivors to obtain substantial compensation. But no amount of money in the world can fully compensate for a loss like a wrongful death. Nevertheless, the compensation which lawyers in Brainerd, MN can obtain helps survivors move on with their lives. And that’s what the deceased person would have wanted.

Car Crashes

Even though today’s cars and trucks are much safer than the ones on the road in the 20th century, car wrecks still kill about 40,000 Americans a year. And, Minnesota has one of the highest death rates in the country. These incidents often cause internal injuries, like brain and spine injuries, which are extremely serious and difficult to treat.

Driver impairment, such as prescription drug use and excessive fatigue, cause most fatal car crashes. Operational error, such as speeding and distracted driving, cause most of the rest. Defective products, such as unsafe airbags, cause a handful of wrecks. These different causes illustrate the different theories of recovery in these cases.

  • Ordinary Negligence: Minnesota law imposes a duty of reasonable care on most citizens. For motorists, that duty involves things like driving defensively. If tortfeasors (negligent driver) violate the standard of care and that violation causes injury, they may be liable for damages.
  • Negligence Per Se: Many times, the law establishes the standard of care. Speed limits are a good example. If the tortfeasor violates a safety law, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages as a matter of law, no matter how careful s/he was.
  • Strict Liability: Manufacturers are strictly liable for any injuries their defective products cause. Once again, it does not matter how careful the company was. Manufacturers are strictly liable for both design defects and manufacturing defects.

Damages in a wrongful death claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as the decedent’s final medical expenses, and noneconomic losses, such as the survivors’ grief and suffering. Lawyers in Brainerd, MN may be able to obtain punitive damages as well, in some extreme cases.

Poisonings

These incidents almost always involve drug overdose. That overdose could be a legal or illegal drug, and a prescription painkiller is almost always the common denominator.

Unintentional overdoses are extremely complex matters, even for the most experienced lawyers in Brainerd, MN, because there are many different causes. The responsible party could be the person who consumed too much medicine, the doctor who wrote a prescription without asking questions, the pill manufacturer who made the dangerous product, or the transportation company which shipped the drug and did not fulfill all its obligations under the Controlled Substances Act.

Lawyers in Brainerd, MN and Falls

These injuries plague Minnesota’s elderly population at a disproportionate rate. Falls are one of the leading causes of accidental death for folks over 65, and they are the leading cause of accidental death for folks over 85. Older people often suffer from vision problems, so they are less able to see hazards on the ground. Additionally, many older people suffer from gait disorders. When they stumble, they often fall hard.

Procedurally, falls and other premises liability claims, like swimming pool drownings, work a bit differently. To obtain compensation, lawyers in Brainerd, MN must establish:

  • Legal Duty: The degree of responsibility varies based on the relationship between the victim and owner. For example, if the victim was an invitee (a person who had permission to be on the property and whose presence benefitted the owner in some way), the owner has a duty of reasonable care, like the one for motorists.
  • Knowledge of Hazard: The owner must have actual or constructive knowledge (should have known). Emails, repair estimates, and other direct evidence of actual knowledge usually surfaces during a lawsuit’s discovery process. Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge usually involves the time-notice rule. If a hazard existing for a long time, the owner should have discovered it.

These same principles also apply to assaults, as outlined below.

Swimming Pool Drownings

The same duty/knowledge approach sometimes applies in these situations. Additionally, the aforementioned negligence per se rule may apply as well. Swimming pool owners must comply with pool safety laws. These laws vary in different localities. They usually include things like self-latching gates and unclimbable fences which completely surround the water. Owners who violate such laws may be liable for damages as a matter of law.

There are other kinds of swimming pool injuries in addition to drownings. Excessive pool cleaning chemicals, like chlorine, may cause chemical burns. Too few chemicals may cause bacterial infections. These injuries often beset individuals with pre-existing conditions. Under Minnesota law, these victims are usually entitled to full compensation for their injuries.

Assaults

Wet spots on floors and other such hazards often cause falls. Inadequate security, nonfunctional cameras, burned-out lights, and other such items often cause assaults.

The property owner is legally responsible if a lawyer in Brainerd, MN establishes duty and knowledge. Additionally, an attorney must also establish foreseeability. Evidence of foreseeability includes prior, similar incidents either at that property or at a nearby location.

Connect with a Fearless Attorney

At Carlson & Jones, P.A., our lawyers in Brainerd, MN do not back down from the big insurance companies. Call us today for a free consultation, and we’ll work to get the compensation and justice you deserve.

Motorcycle Crashes, Maximum Compensation, Motorcycle History, and Brainerd Attorneys

One of the most infamous wrecks in motorcycle history still has some important lessons in terms of obtaining maximum compensation.

British Army Officer T.E. Lawrence, who is better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was one of the most famous World War I commanders. In 1935, he was killed in a motorcycle crash which remains controversial. Some say that he swerved to avoid a boy on a bicycle and lost control of his 998cc Brough Superior. Others say that a reckless driver ran him off the road. Unfortunately, before anyone had a chance to look at the physical evidence, authorities loaded the wrecked bike onto a truck and hauled it to the dump.

All these years later, a quick and diligent investigation is still critical for Brainerd attorneys. Without examining the scene, it’s impossible to develop a theory of the case. And without evidence, it’s impossible to prove negligence.

Theory of the Case

Driver error causes almost all vehicle wrecks. Tire blowouts and other manufacturing defects only cause a few wrecks, and acts of nature, like lightning strikes, cause even fewer. That error usually involves either ordinary negligence or negligence per se.

Just before Lawrence’s final motorcycle ride, a court decided Donoghue v. Stevenson. This case is the foundation of modern negligence law. The court famously concluded that people had a responsibility to avoid injury to their “neighbors.” The neighbor principle later became the duty of reasonable care.

Noncommercial drivers have a duty to obey the rules of the road, both the written and unwritten ones, and a duty to drive defensively. Commercial operators, like Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and bus drivers, have a higher duty of care. So, it is usually easier to prove negligence in commercial operator cases.

Negligence per se is the violation of a statute. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are liable for damages as a matter of law if:

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

Device distraction illustrates the difference between these two concepts. A new hands-free law just took effect in Minnesota in August 2019. This law prohibits holding and using a phone for any purpose, other than GPS navigation. It’s still illegal to enter an address on such a device or manipulate the screen while driving.

The new law does not prohibit hands-free devices. But these devices may be more dangerous than hand-held devices. Hands-free devices are still distracting. Operators who use them take theie eyes off the road and take their minds off driving. Additionally, hands-free devices give some operators a false sense of security.

Brainerd Attorneys and Proving Negligence

So, the citation issued, if any, goes a long way toward establishing liability for damages. In some cases, that may be the only thing necessary. But in most cases, Brainerd attorneys must collect additional evidence.

Sometimes, this proof is readily available. For example, a Brainerd Attorney can cut through red tape and obtain a copy of a police accident report in only minutes. But this report is sometimes incomplete or inaccurate, especially if the victim was seriously injured or killed. In these situations, the critical report narrative only contains the tortfeasor’s side of the story. Since the fatality rate is so high in motorcycle crashes, these situations are common in this context.

Therefore, additional evidence is often critical. To examine this issue more closely, let’s stay with the device distraction example. Additional evidence in device distraction cases may include:

  • Web browsing logs,
  • Text message records,
  • Call logs, and
  • App usage records.

The tortfeasor can destroy all this evidence with just a few touches. To preserve it, a Brainerd Attorney must quickly send a spoliation letter. This letter directs the tortfeasor to preserve any potential physical evidence in the case, including the aforementioned items.

Insurance Company Defenses

Especially in motorcycle crashes, contributory negligence is probably the most common insurance company defense. This legal doctrine shifts responsibility for the crash from the victim to the tortfeasor.

For example, the insurance company might admit that the tortfeasor was using a hands-free phone and therefore distracted. But lawyers might accuse the victim of darting in and out of traffic while riding, thus making illegal lane changes. Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 50 percent bar. So, as long as the victim was no more than 50 percent responsible for the crash, the victim still receives a proportionate share of damages.

The assumption of the risk defense sometimes comes up in motorcycle crashes, if the victim wasn’t wearing a helmet. This defense basically states that people are responsible for their own injuries if they ignore a known risk.

Damages in a motorcycle wreck claim 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 cases.

Connect with a Thorough Lawyer

A diligent investigation often improves the end result. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Left Turn Motorcycle Crashes

Assume Doug Defendant is waiting to make a left turn against traffic on a main street, so he can get to a neighborhood street. Traffic is rather heavy and Doug must wait several seconds. But to him, the wait time seems like several hours. So, when he thinks he sees an upcoming break in oncoming traffic, Doug gets ready to turn quickly and speed through the gap.

But Doug does not see Peter Plaintiff, who is approaching on his motorcycle. So, Doug suddenly accelerates and crosses directly into Peter’s path. The force of the sudden impact propels Peter off his bike, and emergency responders rush him to a nearby hospital before he regains consciousness.

This scenario plays out frequently on Crow Wing County streets. According to one estimate, over a third of all motorcycle crashes are left turn collisions.

Motorcycle Crash Injuries

Because of the negligence of drivers like Doug, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these claims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Due to the nature of motorcycle crash injuries, compensation is usually substantial in these claims. Some typical injuries include:

  • Head Injuries: Even if the rider was wearing a helmet, these wounds are very common in motorcycle crash cases. Helmets do not protect against motion and noise-related head injuries. So, whether the victim wore a helmet or not, compensation for head injuries is usually available.
  • Internal Bleeding: The same forces that throw riders off their bikes also cause internal organs to smash against one another. As a result, these organs often bleed profusely, and emergency responders usually cannot stop this bleeding. So, many victims are on the brink of hypovolemic shock by the time they get to a hospital.
  • Spine Injuries: When victims hit the ground, even if they do not fall on their backs, they usually knock their spines out of alignment. Even if doctors treat these injuries quickly, permanent paralysis is a distinct possibility in these situations.

Head and spine injuries are among the most costly personal injuries. The medical expenses may be as high as $1 million the first year alone, and $4 million over the course of a lifetime.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Legal Issues in Left-Turn Crashes

Legally, Doug’s failure to see Peter and his failure to yield the right-of-way to Peter clearly constitute negligence. In this context, negligence is basically a lack of ordinary care. Most Minnesota drivers must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. Doug came up short in both these areas.

The insurance company could argue that Doug’s shortcomings were just momentary lapses which did not constitute a breach of care. But a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer could easily convince a jury otherwise, in light of all the facts. However, insurance company lawyers may have another trick or two up their sleeves.

If emergency responders gave Doug a citation, the negligence per se rule makes it easier for Peter to establish negligence. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate safety laws and cause crashes are usually responsible for damages as a matter of law.

But first responders rarely issue citations in left-turn motorcycle crashes, even if the crash kills the rider. Since Peter was unconscious and unable to give his side of the story, Doug may have been able to talk his way out of a ticket.

In court, the last clear chance defense often comes up in left turn crash claims. Insurance company lawyers argue that riders could have changed speeds or changed lanes to avoid the crash, but they did not do so. Therefore, they are legally responsible for their own injuries.

However, in most instances, including our hypothetical crash, the last clear chance rule does not apply. Since traffic was heavy, Peter probably did not have enough room to swerve or brake quickly. If he did one of those things, he might have caused a more serious wreck than the one he prevented.

Moreover, motorcycles are a lot harder to control than four-wheel vehicles. That’s especially true if environmental or other conditions are less than ideal.

Resolving Motorcycle Crash Claims

Generally, civil claims settle out of court. The settlement process begins when a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer ascertains a fair settlement value. Economic losses are usually straightforward. To calculate noneconomic losses, most Brainerd, MN accident lawyers multiply the economic losses by two or four, depending on the facts of the case and some other factors.

The settlement process usually ends at mediation. If both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is successful about 75 percent of the time.

Rely on a Dedicated Attorney

Left turn motorcycle crashes are often horrific. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several area offices to serve you better.

Can a Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyer Quickly Settle a Truck Accident Claim?

The ongoing truck driver shortage is showing no signs of letting up. In fact, industry experts predict that the shortfall will reach 160,000 drivers by 2028.

As a result, some shipping companies employ drivers with little experience behind the wheel. Other companies subtly encourage drivers to stay on the road as long as possible, even if that means running afoul of HOS (Hours of Service) regulations which restrict such activities for safety reasons. The bottom line is that the risk of a truck accident may be higher than ever.

Typically, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers resolve these claims out of court. So, victims need not go to trial to obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Unfortunately, the legal system in Crow Wing County is often not very fast or efficient. Every settlement process is different, but most follow the same general outline.

How Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers Build a Case

If you were hurt in a truck wreck that was not your fault, immediate medical attention is usually the first priority. Without such treatment, vehicle collision injuries, such as whiplash, usually get worse and become more difficult to treat. Additionally, delayed treatment gives insurance company lawyers a chance to argue that the victim’s injuries must not have been very bad.

So, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers quickly connect victims with doctors. These medical professionals usually charge no money upfront, because they agree to delay billing until the case is settled.

The aforementioned “fault” is not always easy to determine. Typically, truck wrecks cause catastrophic injuries. So, the victim does not give a statement to emergency responders. As a result, the police accident report only reflects the truck driver’s version of events.

Therefore, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers must also collect evidence in the case. Medical records are always important. In addition to diagnosis and treatment issues, medical professionals usually take notes about the victim’s pain and suffering.

Electronic evidence, such as the Electronic Logging Device, may be critical as well. As mentioned above, many truck drivers are dangerously fatigued. ELDs provide rock-solid evidence in this area. But a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer must act quickly to preserve this evidence before the insurance company “accidentally” destroys it.

Insurance Company Defenses

Building a case is a big part of the settlement process. This evidence allows Brainerd, MN accident lawyers to assign a preliminary settlement value. So, a lawyer does not sell the claim short and does not needlessly hold out for more money.

This determination is only preliminary, because an attorney must also consider any insurance company defenses. These legal loopholes include:

  • Contributory Negligence: Comparative fault shifts blame from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. For example, the insurance company might admit the tortfeasor was speeding, but insists that the victim’s illegal lane change substantially caused the crash.
  • Last Clear Chance: In many rear-end and head-on collision claims, the insurance company argues that the victim could have avoided the crash, perhaps by changing lanes, yet did not do so. If that’s the case, the victim, and not the tortfeasor, is legally responsible for damages.
  • Sudden Emergency: This doctrine is similar to last clear chance. If the tortfeasor reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency, like a tire blowout, the tortfeasor is not responsible for any resulting car crash damages.

Typically, the insurance company must prove these defenses apply.

The Settlement Process

Even if these defenses do no hold up in court, insurance companies typically use them as an excuse to delay settlement. As a result, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer must often file legal paperwork to preserve the victim’s rights. If an attorney waits too long, the victim could completely lose the right to recovery, because of the statute of limitations.

At that point, most Crow Wing County judges refer cases to mediation. This alternative dispute resolution mechanism is successful about 75 percent of the time.

During mediation, a neutral third party, who is usually an unaffiliated Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, first listens to brief legal arguments from both sides. Then for the remainder of the session, the mediator goes back and forth between the two sides, conveying settlement offers and counteroffers. These sessions usually last a full day, but some last a half day.

Mediation has a number of benefits for both victims and insurance companies. Mediation reduces litigation costs and shortens the case. Additionally, mediation gives both parties more control over the outcome. For these reasons, mediation is often successful in other areas as well, such as family law.

Connect with a Dedicated Attorney

The accident settlement process usually takes time. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Motorcycle Crash Settlements and Brainerd Attorneys

Most motorcycle injury claims do not go to trial. In fact, about 95 percent of these matters settle out of court. If the crash involved wrongful death and the issues are crystal clear, settlement usually occurs within a few weeks. But in most situations, the victim is hospitalized with severe injuries and/or there is some question as to liability. So, in most cases, settlement may take several months.

This window of time gives Brainerd attorneys a chance to build a solid claim, based on the laws and the facts. Such claims greatly increase the odds of fair compensation. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

Sadly, many motorcycle crash victims do not survive. Since riders are almost completely exposed to danger, the fatality rate among motorcyclists is about thirty times greater than the fatality rate for enclosed vehicle occupants. Some serious, life-threatening injuries include:

  • Neck and Spine Wounds: The force of the impact almost always throws riders off their bikes. The sudden, jarring motion alone is enough to cause a serious injury. If victims land on their backs, these injuries are even worse. These kinds of injuries often generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency treatment and physical therapy costs.
  • Exsanguination: Excessive blood loss is usually the official cause of death in these cases. That same jarring motion causes internal organs to bump against one another in a violent manner. As a result, many victims lose so much blood that they are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders arrive.
  • Biker’s Arm: When riders fall, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls, This reaction often causes permanent nerve injuries to the brachial plexus. While not immediately life-threatening, this degenerative condition often causes significant complications.

Because of all these serious injuries, immediate medical care is very important. But many health insurance companies do not cover accident-related expenses.

So, Brainerd attorneys send letters of protection to medical providers. Since these letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved, medical providers charge nothing upfront for their services. Additionally, these letters give Brainerd attorneys negotiating leverage to lower the amount due.

Immediate medical attention also helps the victim’s damage claim. If the victim does not see a doctor straightaway, the insurance company usually claims the victim’s injuries must not have been very bad, or at least not very painful. This claim, if proved, may reduce the compensation in the case.

Brainerd Attorneys and Your Claim for Damages

This compensation is available if the other driver was negligent. This legal concept is more than carelessness or thoughtlessness. Negligence means a lack of ordinary care. In many cases, negligence is closely linked to one of the five types of driving impairment:

  • Alcohol: This substance causes about a third of the fatal crashes in Crow Wing County. Alcohol impairs both judgment ability and motor skills.
  • Fatigue: Drowsiness has a similar effect on the brain and body. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level.
  • Drugs: Both illegal substances, like cocaine or marijuana, and legal substances, like Sominex or prescription painkillers, may cause drug impairment. In many jurisdictions, “drugged” drivers cause more fatal crashes than “drunk” drivers.
  • Medical Condition: Epilepsy, heart disease, and other such chronic conditions may cause sudden loss of consciousness when drivers are behind the wheel.
  • Distraction: Legally, drivers are distracted when they take their hands off the wheel, take their eyes off the road, and/or take their minds off driving. So, distracted driving includes many activities that most people do on every trip, such as using a hands-free cellphone or eating while driving.

In other instances, operational negligence is an issue. Failure to maintain a proper lookout is a very good example. A significant number of vehicle-motorcycle crashes are left turn crashes. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) does not see an oncoming motorcycle, so when the tortfeasor makes a left turn against traffic, the tortfeasor crosses directly into the rider’s path.

The Settlement Process

Based on the victim’s injuries and the claim for damages, Brainerd attorneys calculate a case’s settlement value. This monetary amount serves as a starting point for pretrial negotiations with the insurance company.

As mentioned above, complex cases never settle right away. Typically, these matters go to mediation. Both sides work with a mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Brainerd attorney. After hearing from both sides, the mediator uses shuttle diplomacy to transmit offers and counter-offers back and forth. If both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is usually successful.

Work with Diligent Lawyers

Motorcycle crash claims usually settle on favorable terms, but they may not settle immediately. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have four area office locations.

Why You Should Partner with a Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyer After a Head or Spine Injury

Head and spine injuries are some of the most expensive kinds of personal injuries. For a spine injury, medical bills and associated costs typically average about $1 million in the first year alone. Over the next few years, the costs do not diminish very much.

Serious head and spine injuries also lead to significant pain and suffering. Head injuries often trigger personality changes and other symptoms which make it difficult or impossible to function at work, home, or school. Spine injuries cause intense pain as well as partial or total paralysis.

Due to the severe nature of these wounds, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer is able to obtain significant compensation in many of these cases. This process, which often takes at least several months, begins with some knowledge. Such information is valuable for victims, jurors, and for Brainerd personal injury lawyers.

Why Are These Injuries So Expensive?

In a nutshell, brain and spine injuries generate significant medical bills because both surgical correction and physical therapy are incredibly difficult.

It is impossible to surgically correct brain injuries. These wounds are permanent. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate. However, doctors can ease swelling and stop brain bleeding. These delicate procedures at least keep the injury from getting worse.

Spinal surgery is very intricate as well. The spinal cord is not very long or wide, yet it contains thirty-one interconnected pairs of nerves. Only a few doctors have enough training and experience to operate on such a delicate area. These surgeons expect, and deserve, a great deal of compensation.

The aforementioned million dollar figure also includes indirect economic losses, such as lost wages. It takes many months to recover from back or brain surgery. During much of that time, victims usually cannot move around at all. Then, until they complete physical therapy, their lives are extremely limited.

What Causes Head and Spine Injuries?

Falls cause a number of these wounds. That could be a fall from a height or, more commonly, an ordinary slip-and-fall. But car crashes are, by far, the leading cause of brain and spine injuries.

In terms of head injuries, vehicle collisions combine all three major head injury causes, which are:

  • Motion: The violent forces in a vehicle collision are usually more than a restraint system can withstand. Additionally, seat bels and other restraints are not designed to stop motion-related injuries. Yet it is possible to scramble the brain without breaking the skull, just like a person can scramble an egg just by shaking it.
  • Trauma: Many times, a victim’s head crashes into a windshield, dashboard, or another solid object. Additionally, a high-speed wreck transforms lose objects inside the car, like cell phones, into high-speed missiles.
  • Noise: Witnesses often say that car crashes sound like explosions. Sudden loud noises like these create shock waves which disrupt brain functions. Such wounds are very difficult to address surgically, since there is no brain bleeding or swelling.

The aforementioned violent motion also causes a significant number of spine injuries. The sudden back-and-forth movement often causes pinched nerves and other damage. These injuries are especially acute if the victim had a pre-existing back condition.

In pre-existing injury cases, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer can usually obtain maximum compensation, thanks to the eggshell skull rule. Simply stated, tortfeasors (negligent actors) should not receive financial windfalls because the victim was physically frail.

How Does a Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyer Obtain Compensation in These Cases?

Most brain and spine injury cases settle out of court. However, settlement negotiations cannot begin in earnest until medical treatment is at least substantially complete. Personal injury settlements usually include liability waivers. So, once a victim signs on the dotted line, it’s almost impossible to reopen the case and obtain additional compensation for additional needs.

These negotiations typically begin with a demand letter. If liability is reasonably clear, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer may not even need to file court paperwork to obtain top compensation. Other factors, such as the strength of the victim/plaintiff’s case, any insurance company defenses, and the attorney’s skill, often come into play here as well.

If the case does not settle relatively quickly, mediation is generally the next step. A third-party mediator, who is usually a retired judge or an unaffiliated Brainerd personal injury attorney, works to facilitate a settlement between the two sides. If both parties participate with open minds, mediation is successful about 75 percent of the time.

Connect with a Dedicated Attorney

Spine and brain injury victims need and deserve substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

How Can a Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me Get My Life Back?

Every year in the United States, car crashes seriously injure millions of people. Most of these incidents are not “accidents.” With the notable exception of road rage crashes, they may be entirely unintentional. However, most of these wrecks are preventable.

Many Minnesota car crashes involve negligence. This legal term basically means a lack of ordinary care. When tortfeasors (negligent drivers) violate the standard of care by driving while distracted, fatigued, or otherwise impaired, they are legally responsible for the damages they cause. Sometimes, the Legislature sets the standard of care. For example, the law states that drivers must not make unsignaled lane changes or exceed a certain speed. If tortfeasors violate these and other safety laws, and their violations substantially cause injuries, they may be responsible for damages as a matter of law.

So much for the “big picture” element of a negligence claim. Such a plan is good news for victims. But these families need help today and not just tomorrow. Fortunately, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer can meet these needs as well.

Paying Medical and Other Bills

Doctor bills and other such expenses are usually the single largest component of car crash damages. From a medical standpoint, the resulting injuries are also difficult to diagnose and treat. A Minnesota personal injury lawyer helps on both these fronts. So, victims can concentrate on getting better.

Experienced lawyers usually have close relationships with car crash specialists. That’s especially important when it comes to common car wreck injuries like whiplash. Common diagnostic tests usually do not detect this soft tissue injury. The whip-like motion that’s common in car crash cases, as opposed to a trauma wound, usually causes this injury.

Pain usually starts in the neck and then radiates up to the forehead and down through the shoulders to the hands. The pain intensifies as it spreads. Very soon, whiplash victims are unable to function normally at home, work, and/or school. That inability takes a major toll on their personal and financial lives.

Since whiplash is hard to diagnose, doctors who do not regularly deal with car crashes may miss the condition. By the time it’s caught, whiplash may already be in an advanced state that’s even more difficult to treat. If the victim was older, had a bad back, or had suffered whiplash before, these complications are even more acute.

Minnesota personal injury lawyers can connect victims with experienced doctors. For the reasons outlined below, these victims do not even need money or health insurance to get quality medical care.

Shortly after your initial consultation and the paperwork for representation is signed, an attorney will send a letter of protection to medical providers. This letter assures payment once the case is resolved. So, instead of money at the time, the doctor accepts the promise of future payment.

Moreover, the letter creates negotiation leverage. When the case is resolved, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer can negotiate with the provider for a lower fee. So, victims get to keep more of their settlement money.

This letter is not just for doctors. A serious car crash usually means the loss of a vehicle. So, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer can also send a letter of protection to car rental companies. That way, victims never miss a beat in terms of getting to and from work, getting the kids to and from school, or running the other daily errands that keep life moving forward. Also, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer can expedite the property settlement, so you have a permanent solution in place.

Building a Solid Legal Case

The first few weeks of a car crash claim is a very busy time for a Minnesota personal injury lawyer. In addition to arranging for medical care and other matters, attorneys must also collect evidence of liability. This evidence is necessary in both negligence and negligence per se cases. In both these situations, the victim/plaintiff must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). To get this evidence, an attorney uses both modern technology and old-fashioned hard work.

Tried and true physical evidence, like photographs, is very powerful in court. After all, as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Most Minnesota courtrooms have high-definition screens and other presentation platforms. So, pictures are even more compelling today than they were in the old days of passing around snapshots.

Cutting edge technology, like an Electronic Logging Device, supplements this process. ELDs are especially critical in large vehicle crashes (e.g. tractor trailers and tour buses). These devices are connected to vehicle ignitions. So, they provide almost foolproof evidence of how much rest the driver had before the fateful trip. Other electronic evidence includes surveillance video footage (the old grainy videotape days are gone) and Event Data Recorders. EDRs are basically black boxes for automobiles.

Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Complete Representation

Most personal injury claims settle out of court. So, a lawyer needs to be a very good negotiator. These skills come into play before the settlement conference takes place. A Minnesota personal injury lawyer must accurately value your case from a financial standpoint. Then, your attorney must negotiate aggressively.

Such assertive representation must continue if the case goes to trial. Without an aggressive lawyer, the whole truth of the matter may not come out. If the jury only hears the insurance company’s side of the story, it is almost impossible for a victim to get fair compensation.

All the way through this process, communication is key. A good personal injury attorney will never, ever keep you in the dark.

Call Today To Speak With A Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer From Carlson & Jones

From start to finish, the right attorney makes a big difference in the outcome of a personal injury claim. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Minnesota, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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

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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

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

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

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Phone: (320) 289-4761
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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (952) 260-9640
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