Left Turn Motorcycle Wrecks and Buffalo Car Crash Lawyers

These kinds of motorcycle crashes, which are also known as SMIDSY wrecks (for sorry, mate, I didn’t see you), are quite common in Wright County. Generally, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is waiting to make an unprotected left turn against traffic, either at an intersection or to enter/exit a private driveway. The tortfeasor does not see the motorcyclist and turns directly into the bike’s path.

Frequently, tortfeasors do not take the time to look around large vehicles, like SUVs and pickups. So, their vision is limited and they do not see small motorcycles. Other drivers do not look for motorcycles at all. Either way, the tortfeasor is clearly at fault. However, there is often a difference between fault and liability. More on that below.

Riders normally suffer serious injuries in these cases. Therefore, a Buffalo car crash lawyer can usually obtain substantial compensation for victims and their families. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Building Succesful Left-Turn Crash Claims

Theoretical fault is not enough. A Buffalo car crash lawyer must also prove actual fault. That usually means negligence per se or ordinary negligence.

If emergency responders cited the tortfeasor for making an illegal left turn, the tortfeasor might be liable for damages as a matter of law. This doctrine applies if:

  • The tortfeasor broke a safety law, such as failure to yield the right-of-way, and
  • That violation substantially caused injury.

Unfortunately, first responders rarely issue citations after SMIDSY crashes, even if the motorcyclist died. As a result, Buffalo car crash lawyers often use the ordinary negligence doctrine.

Essentially, negligence is a lack of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. If they fail to maintain a proper lookout and cause a crash, they could be liable for damages. Driver impairment, such as alcohol use, fatigue, or distraction, contributes significantly to a negligence claim.

Evidence like driver impairment is not just important for liability purposes. It’s also important for damages purposes. Typically, there is a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages Wright County jurors award.

Buffalo Car Crash Lawyers and Motorcycle Wreck Defenses

Evidence is not the only determining factor in terms of liability. Insurance company defenses often come into play here as well.

Contributory negligence is one of the most common insurance company defenses in motorcycle wreck claims. This rule shifts responsibility for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. A few riders do things like lane-split (drive between cars stacked up in traffic) or speed. In these situations, jurors must divide fault between the victim and tortfeasor on a percentage basis.

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. Additionally, insurance companies have the burden of proof, and the burden of persuasion, in these situations. A Buffalo car crash lawyer must only play defense and keep the insurance company out of the endzone.

Another legal loophole, the last clear chance rule, often comes up in left-turn motorcycle wreck claims. If the rider had a reasonable chance to avoid the crash, perhaps by changing speeds or lanes, yet did not do so, the rider is legally responsible for the crash.

But the last clear chance rule often does not apply in motorcycle crash claims. If riders change speeds or lanes quickly, they often lose control of their bikes. That’s especially true if environmental, traffic, and other conditions are less than ideal. So, if they try to avoid one crash, they might cause another one.

Resolving Your Claim for Damages

Diligent evidence collection and thoughtful legal analysis are essential in these cases. Assuming a Buffalo car crash lawyer does these things well, the claim usually settles out of court.

Sometimes, the insurance company settles after an attorney sends a demand letter. Legally, if liability is clear, the insurance company has a duty to quickly resolve the claim. However, largely because of the aforementioned defenses, there is usually at least some liability dispute.

Therefore, many personal injury claims settle during mediation. Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is about 90 percent successful. Mediation is good for both sides because it reduces litigation costs, saves time, and gives the parties more control over the outcome.

Contact Experienced Attorneys

Left-turn motorcycle crash claims might seem straightforward, but they are often complex. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN car crash lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer in Brainerd, MN Resolve Motorcycle Crash Claims?

When vehicles collide, multiple restraint layers protect vehicle occupants from injury. Yet these crashes still kill or seriously injure millions of people every year, largely due to the excessive force in these crashes. Riders have none of these protections, So, it’s not surprising that motorcycle rider fatalities are 300 percent higher than vehicle occupant fatalities.

Due to the seriousness of motorcycle crashes, the injuries they cause, and the pain and suffering these injuries cause, usually mean that substantial damages are available. Insurance companies care only about their own profits. So, their lawyers often fight these claims tooth and nail.

A Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer, on the other hand, is committed to you. A lawyer’s commitment might be the only way to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. All these claims are different, but the procedure is largely the same.

Evidence Collection

Usually, this process begins with a police accident report. Because of privacy laws and other red tape, it might take private citizens weeks to obtain the report. But in most cases, a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer only needs to make a phone call.

Sometimes, the evidence collection process ends here as well, at least for the most part. The report’s narrative helps a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer evaluate the case. The police accident report also contains information like the name and contact information for crash witnesses, if any.  Medical records, which are also easy for an attorney to obtain, often fill in the gaps.

In other cases, however, the police accident report is insufficient, especially in motorcycle crash claims. The narrative is a good example. Frequently, the victim was seriously injured or killed. Therefore, the narrative only contains one side of the story.

Typically, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) insists that the rider “came out of nowhere” and the collision was inevitable. This line sometimes has legal significance, as outlined below.

Additional evidence in a motorcycle crash claim includes the tortfeasor’s Event Data Recorder. Since these gadgets store things like vehicle speed and steering angle, EDR information often paints a much clearer picture of what happened.

Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and the Types of Negligence

Evidence is like the random dots in one of those connect-the-dots pictures from kindergarten. By itself, evidence means nothing. So, a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer must connect the dots for the jury.

Ordinary negligence is one of the most common theories in motorcycle crash claims. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and avoid accidents when possible. Thay duty includes looking out not only for other cars, but for motorcycles as well.

To Brainerd, MN, personal injury lawyers, this type of negligence is operational negligence. Other times, negligence claims take root before drivers get behind the wheel. Perhaps they are intoxicated or sleepy. Behavioral negligence causes a great number of crashes. Intoxicated or fatigued drivers are not at their best, mentally or physically.

The final type of negligence, environmental negligence, is especially common in Minnesota. Sometimes, driving conditions are very bad, to say the least. Divers have a duty to at least slow down and be more careful during these times. But many drivers ignore this responsibility.

Negligence per se is sometimes available as well. Tortfeasors who violate safety laws, like making an illegal lane change, are liable for damages as a matter of law if they cause crashes. However, emergency responders often do not issue citations in motorcycle wreck claims. They are too busy tending to injured victims and securing the scene to bother with a traffic ticket.

Endgame

Only about 3 percent of negligence cases go to trial. Almost all the rest settle out of court, and in many cases, this settlement happens rather early in the process.

If liability is clear, insurance companies have a duty to settle claims quickly, Frequently, such settlement occurs after a Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer sends a demand letter to the insurance company.

Unfortunately, there is almost always at least some question as to liability. The “s/he came out of nowhere” line often involves a legal doctrine called comparative fault. This loophole shifts blame for the accident from the negligent driver to the victim. In this context, insurance company lawyers often argue that the rider was operating recklessly before the crash, and therefore the other driver could not avoid the crash.

So, many motorcycle crash claims settle during mediation. An unaffiliated Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer meets with both sides and tries to facilitate a settlement. Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is usually successful.

Contact a Hard-Hitting Attorney

Motorcycle crash claims are often complex. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

A Buffalo, MN Auto Accident Lawyer Looks at Some Common Traffic Tickets

Frequently, emergency responders issue traffic tickets at accident scenes to help insurance companies determine fault. But in many cases, these citations affect liability for damages as well. In fact, because of the negligence per se doctrine, they may conclusively determine liability.

The negligence per se doctrine applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violated a safety law and that violation substantially caused injury. This doctrine saves time during the evidence collection process. As a result, it’s easier for Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyers to obtain fair compensation for accident victims.

If you were recently involved in a car accident due to one of the following offenses, you need to call a Buffalo car accident lawyer ASAP.

Consequences of Speeding in Buffalo and Minnesota

Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Minnesota. That’s because speed affects the risk of a collision and the force in a collision.

Speed multiples stopping distance. At 30mph, most cars travel about six car lengths between the moment a driver sees a hazard and the moment the car safely stops. At 60mph, stopping distance multiplies to about eighteen car lengths. Other factors, such as vehicle weight and environmental conditions, often increase stopping distance.

Velocity also multiplies the force in a collision between two objects. In this context, speed transforms property damage fender-bender crashes into serious injury or fatal collisions.

In Minnesota, the posted speed limits are presumptively reasonable speeds. So, officers could issue speeding tickets even if the driver was not exceeding the posted limit, if the officer felt the driver was going too fast for the conditions. But officers rarely hand out such tickets. So, in these cases, Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyers normally rely on the ordinary negligence doctrine. Essentially, negligence is a lack of reasonable care.

Failure to Signal/Illegal Lane Change in Minnesota

These citations are especially common in serious motorcycle crash claims. Today’s cars are so solid that sideswipe collisions don’t often cause serious collisions, unless victims lose control of their vehicles. But motorcycle riders have no seatbelts, airbags, steel cocoons, or other things to protect them in these cases. They are completely exposed to danger.

Visibility is also a factor in these situations. Frequently, tortfeasors simply do not see motorcycle riders. But that’s no excuse for negligence, and certainly no defense to a negligence per se claim.

Crossing the Median

These citations illustrate the difference between fault at the scene and liability for damages. If a driver is ticketed for crossing the median, that driver is almost always faulted for the crash. But legal responsibility might be different, because of the last clear chance rule.

All drivers have a duty of reasonable care, regardless of what another driver does. This duty includes a responsibility to avoid accidents when possible. So, if Driver A saw Driver B cross the center line and Driver A did nothing to stop the wreck, Driver A might be legally responsible for the crash.

There’s a big difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. Frequently, collisions happen so fast that there is no way to avoid them. Also, if the tortfeasor was driving erratically at the time, it’s very difficult to get out of the way.

Failure to Yield to Pedestrians in Buffalo, MN

Much like motorcyclists, pedestrians have no protection from onrushing cars. The moment they step into the street, they are completely exposed to danger.

Minnesota law is a bit vague when it comes to pedestrian right-of-way. If the pedestrian was in the crosswalk and crossing with the light, the pedestrian clearly had the right-of-way. Other situations, like crossing against the light in the crosswalk, are more uncertain.

In terms of legal liability, the last clear chance rule applies in pedestrian cases. If a driver sees a pedestrian in the road, the driver has a duty to avoid a crash, even if the driver has the right-of-way.

Sudden emergency, a related doctrine, sometimes comes up in pedestrian crashes as well. Frequently, insurance company lawyers argue that a pedestrian victim “darted out into traffic.” This argument sets up the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine excuses negligent conduct if the driver reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency.

But a jaywalking pedestrian is usually not a “sudden emergency.” This label only applies to lightning strikes, tire blowouts, and other completely unexpected situations.

School Bus Stop Arm Violations in MN

These citations are often perfect storm citations. Drivers who ignore school bus stop arms are frequently speeding. Children disembarking from school busses are vulnerable, and since they often cross in front of the stopped bus, they are hard to see.

What’s At Risk With These Common Traffic Tickets?

We’ve already mentioned how Minnesota courts often determine car accident fault based on traffic citations issued on the scene. But being at fault for the accident, injuries to the other driver, and property damage aren’t the only consequences the other driver has to worry about.

When someone receives a traffic ticket in Buffalo, MN, they’ll also have to pay a fine. The exact fines for traffic tickets vary by county and by violation.

Speeding Ticket Fines in Buffalo, MN

The fines for Minnesota speeding tickets vary based on how many miles per hour the driver was going over the speed limit. Fines break down as the following:

  • 1–10 mph over the speed limit: $125 fine
  • 11–14 mph over the speed limit: $135 fine
  • 15–19 mph over the speed limit: $145 fine
  • 20–25 mph over the speed limit: $225 fine
  • 26–30 mph over the speed limit: $285 fine

If a law enforcement officer catches a driver going 31 mph or more over the speed limit, the fine increases to $385.

Failure to Signal/Illegal Lane Change Fines

Failure to signal and illegal lane change (i.e., “improper lane use” in Minnesota) are separate crimes. As such, they can incur two different fines.

Failing to signal while driving can incur a $125 fine. Meanwhile, improper lane use, which might include failure to signal, incurs a higher penalty. Offenders have to pay $135 for this type of traffic violation.

Crossing the Median Fines

The Minnesota Statutes don’t have a specific traffic fine for crossing the median. This violation is typically charged under another type of driving offense. The discretion is largely left up to the charging officer.

For example, an officer could charge someone with inattentive driving, which caused that driver to cross into the median. This type of traffic violation comes with a $125 fine.

Another way to charge drivers with crossing the median is with a “failure to obey traffic control devices” citation. After all, median lines are tools for traffic control. Receiving a charge for this violation typically incurs a $135 fine.

Failure to Yield to Pedestrians Fines in Minnesota

The fines for failure to yield right of way and failure to yield to pedestrians are a world apart. The former incurs a mere $135 fine. But failing to yield to pedestrians is a much more severe crime in Minnesota.

The first time someone fails to yield to pedestrians in Minnesota, he or she will receive a misdemeanor. Conviction penalties include up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $700.

A second or more violation becomes a gross misdemeanor. Traffic violators convicted of subsequent failure to yield to pedestrian citations must pay up to $3000 in fines, spend up to one year in prison, or both.

School Bus Stop Arm Violation Fines

The House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee recently approved HF2172, which intends to change how law enforcement charges school bus stop arm violations in Minnesota.

Currently, drivers who fail to stop behind school busses can incur a misdemeanor. If convicted, the driver faces a $500 fine.

Unfortunately, officers can’t always identify the driver in these situations. When that happens, they will cite the violation to the owner of the vehicle. Today, the fine for vehicle owners is $100.

HF2172 seeks to increase the fine to the vehicle owner. The auto owner would be faced with a misdemeanor and an increased $300 fine.

Minnesota intends to apply the majority of funds received through these fines to equip school busses with cameras. That way, officers can more easily catch and charge the actual school bus stop arm violation offenders.

Do You Need a Buffalo Car Accident Lawyer in Minnesota?

If you were injured in a car accident caused by one of the above traffic violations, you need to call a Buffalo personal injury lawyer ASAP.

Your attorney can help you understand how much to expect from a car accident settlement, whether you want to file suit against your insurance company or the other driver.

Insurance companies love to low-ball their settlement offers. But a seasoned Buffalo car accident attorney knows how to fight for the damages you deserve. Your lawyer can help you negotiate a better settlement or, when that doesn’t work, fight for your rights in court.

In Minnesota, insurance companies are only required to pay up to $20,000 of medical care for a car wreck injury. This is called personal injury protection (PIP). But, if that doesn’t suffice to cover your medical expenses, your attorney can file a lawsuit against the negligent driver and recover damages.

Reaching Out to Personal Injury Lawyers in Buffalo, Minnesota

Some of the top reasons for Minnesota traffic citations include speeding, failing to signal, crossing the median, failure to yield to pedestrians, and school bus stop arm violations. Receiving one of these tickets incurs fines and, sometimes, jail time, especially if the offense caused a wreck.

Were you recently injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence? Then you need to hire a Buffalo car accident lawyer. Traffic violations make it easier to obtain compensation in car wreck claims.

For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN auto accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

 

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 lawyers work 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.

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

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.

Reach Out to an Aggressive 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.

A Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyer Answers FAQ About Talcum Powder

The link between Johnson & Johnson talcum powder and mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, has never been stronger. In October 2019, the company voluntarily recalled over 30,000 bottles of product which, according to the Food and Drug Administration, were laced with asbestos. The company later denied that the talcum powder contained asbestos fibers.

Largely because of the new evidence of the link between talcum powder and asbestos, as well as the recent recall, our Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers field lots of calls about talcum powder. We have tried to condense a few of the more common questions and answers into this blog.

How Are Talcum Powder and Asbestos Connected?

Talc and asbestos are both highly-prized minerals. Talc is one of the softest known minerals. It’s commonly used as a stand-alone cosmetic and also as filler in other products, like eye makeup. Talc, by itself, is usually safe.

Asbestos, however, is a different story. When it was first discovered, builders used it as a fireproofing and insulating agent. Back then, asbestos was plentiful and cheap. But scientists soon discovered that it was also highly toxic. In fact, just one microscopic fiber may cause serious conditions like mesothelioma.

As for the link between the two, asbestos and talc are often together in the gound. So, during the mining and extraction process, cross-contamination is very common. J&J claimed it was keeping an eye on this problem, but that is obviously not the case.

How Does Asbestos Affect the Body?

In this respect, asbestos is a lot like lead and other heavy metals. A very small tiny amount of lead may cause metallosis, or metal poisoning. Likewise, as mentioned, one tiny asbestos fiber may cause a serious illness. Just how tiny are these fibers? 20,000 of them can fit in the space between Abraham Lincoln’s mouth and nose on a penny.

Mesothelioma is a very rare form of lung cancer. Because it is so rare, many doctors misdiagnose mesothelioma as non-small-cell lung carcinoma. NSCLC is much more common, and also much less aggressive. As a result, the prescribed treatment regimen is often ineffective, and the cancer spreads.

Mesothelioma survival rates have increased substantially since the 1990s, so treatment is often available. However, due to the nature of this disease, treatment is also very expensive.

Asbestos exposure may also cause asbestosis, which is basically scar tissue buildup in the lungs. Like mesothelioma, asbestosis is quite rare. Doctors often misdiagnose this condition as COPD or bronchitis. So, by the time doctors give a correct diagnosis, the only available treatment may be a radical lung transplant. Even this risky procedure is not always effective.

Both mesothelioma and asbestosis have very long latency periods. Most people are sick for several decades before symptoms appear. This issue carries over to the next questions, which is. . .

I Used Talcum Powder Many Years Ago. Is It Too Late to Call a Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyer?

Definitely not. True, the statute of limitations in these cases is normally only two years. But with injuries of this kind, Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers often turn to the discovery rule. According to this doctrine, the statute of limitations clock does not begin ticking until victims:

  • Know or should know the full extent of their illness or injury, and
  • Connect their condition with the defendant’s wrongful conduct.

In this case, the defendant’s wrongful conduct is twofold. First, J&J allowed asbestos fibers to leak into its talcum powder. Second, company executives knew that there was a problem, yet they did nothing to correct it. Because of this twofold misconduct, Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers are often able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases.

On a related note, even if you have a pre-existing condition, like a family history of cancer, full compensation is usually available.

Why is Johnson & Johnson Fighting This So Hard? Wouldn’t It Be Cheaper to Settle Quickly and Quietly?

Many dangerous drug claims do settle quickly and quietly. Normally, the manufacturer wants to keep this news out of the headlines. Additionally, from a pure numbers standpoint, talcum powder sales only make up a small percentage of Johnson & Johnson’s business. So, from that perspective, it makes little sense to contest these cases.

But for J&J, there is more at stake than dollars and cents. Talcum powder is essential to J&J’s brand. So, its lawyers are not really fighting for money. They are fighting to protect J&J’s name.

Many plaintiffs are the same way. Bringing attention to this issue is more important than money damages. So, our Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers fight for both compensation and justice.

Contact an Assertive Attorney

The link between talcum powder and mesothelioma is becoming clearer and clearer. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.

 

Motorcycle Crash Defenses and Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers

When four-wheel vehicles are involved in collisions, multiple restraint layers protect the people inside. But when motorcycles are involved in crashes, the victims have almost no protection. So, motorcycle riders are thirty times more likely to die in these incidents. In fact, in many motorcycle-vehicle collisions, the vehicle occupants are uninjured and the motorcycle rider is nearly killed.

In catastrophic injury cases like these, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers work hard to obtain compensation for both economic and economic damages. Typically, this compensation is substantial. Most motorcycle wrecks involve head, spine, or neck wounds. These injuries are very expensive to diagnose, treat, and recover from. Due to the nature of these injuries, motorcycle crash victims must also endure significant pain and suffering, often for many months.

Since so much is at stake, insurance company lawyers often pull out all the stops to reduce or deny compensation. Some of the more common defenses are outlined below.

Contributory Negligence

The comparative fault doctrine affects may vehicle Crow Wing County vehicle collision claims, especially those wrecks which occur in or near intersections. Essentially, contributory negligence shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim.

Assume the motorcycle rider is lane-splitting. It’s illegal to ride between the lanes in Minnesota, and dangerous to do it anywhere. At the same time, the tortfeasor changes lanes without signaling or looking. If a crash occurs, and it probably will, emergency responders will have a hard time determining fault. Both operators drove illegally.

In that scenario, emergency responders almost always side with the tortfeasor. The motorcycle prejudice, which is outlined below, is partly to blame. Perhaps more importantly, if the victim was killed or seriously injured, emergency responders usually only hear the tortfeasor’s side of the story.

So, even if emergency responders gave you a ticket, you should always reach out to a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer. Since there is a difference between fault for the collision and liability for damages, an attorney can still obtain the compensation you need and deserve.

Brainerd, MN injury lawyers typically have two chances to debunk the contributory negligence defense. First, the judge must allow the defense. For example, if our fictional victim was really riding side-by-side, which is legal in Minnesota, a judge may not allow the defense. Second, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer can minimize the victim’s responsibility before the jury and emphasize the tortfeasor’s responsibility.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash in the eyes of the jury, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages.

Last Clear Chance

This defense, which is another example of the fault vs. liability issue, often comes up in left-turn crashes. Statistically, about a third of motorcycle crashes fall into this category. A tortfeasor tries to make a left turn against traffic, does not see an oncoming motorcycle, and turns directly into the rider’s path.

In these situations, if the motorcyclist had a chance to avoid the collision but failed to do so, the rider is legally responsible for the crash.

That chance could be changing lanes quickly or slowing down suddenly. But these maneuvers are much harder to perform on a motorcycle. Often, even experienced riders lose control of their bikes in these cases. That loss of control may cause a more serious crash. Additionally, traffic conditions often do not allow unpredictable movements.

So, despite insurance company efforts, this defense usually does not apply in motorcycle crash cases. The bottom line is that the victim must have the last clear chance, as opposed to any possible chance.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and the Motorcycle Prejudice

Many Crow Wing County jurors are more willing to embrace doctrines like contributory negligence because of the motorcycle prejudice. Lots of people believe bikers are rebels who have little or no consideration for other people on the road. This feeling is not as strong as it was back in the 1970s and 1980s, but it is still deep and wide.

Unlike comparative fault and last clear chance, the motorcycle prejudice is not in any law book. But it is real, and Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must be ready to deal with it.

One of the best ways to defeat the motorcycle prejudice, or any other prejudice for that matter, is to separate the individual from the group. It’s rather easy to hate a group, but it’s very difficult to hate an individual. This approach also does not offend juror sensibilities.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Motorcycle crash victims are entitled to substantial compensation, but there are substantial obstacles. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

Did Wild West Gunfighter Clay Allison Have a Brain Injury?

Roughly two hundred and forty years ago this month, two of the most famous gunslingers in the West, Clay Allison and Wyatt Earp, supposedly confronted one another in a Dodge City saloon. Earp later claimed that Allison backed down, but that assertion has never been proven.

What is known is that Allison was one of the most violent men in a very violent time. Previously, in 1874, Allison dined with notorious gunman Chunk Coleman before shooting him in the head in a New Mexico hotel. When someone asked Allison why he had supper with the man before murdering him, Allison cooly explained that he “didn’t want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach.” A year later, Allison played a role in a lynching. Afterward, he dragged the corpse through the rough brushes and rocks of the New Mexico wilderness.

Allison married a short time later, and family life seemed to have calmed him. Nevertheless, his erratic behavior continued. On one occasion, a local dentist accidentally worked on the wrong tooth. Allison tracked him down, pinned him to the floor, and pulled out one of the man’s teeth with a pair of pliers.

A wagon accident killed Allison in Texas in 1887. His tombstone includes the very questionable assertion that he was a “gunfighter and a gentleman” that “never killed a man who did not need killing.”

Before all these things happened, the Confederate Army gave Allison a medical discharge because of a “partly epileptic and partly maniacal” condition. Historians speculate that Allison suffered a brain injury in early childhood. That would explain both his discharge and his rather checked Old West activities.

Brain Injury Causes

Traumatic Brain Injuries send millions of people to hospital emergency rooms every year. Unfortunately, doctors send a significant number of these victims home without giving them proper medical treatment. Head injuries do not cause visible bleeding or swelling, and they may not be very painful. Therefore, doctors often misdiagnose head injuries as shock from the incident or even early-onset dementia.

Another reason for this confusion is that brain injuries have a number of different causes. Most f them are not even physical injuries in the traditional sense of the word. The three most common head injury causes are:

  • Trauma: Even though the skull is very thick, it does not take much physical force to cause a brain injury. Brainerd, MN injury lawyers often deal with these wounds in car crashes and serious falls. As outlined below, trauma brain injury treatment requires several different approaches.
  • Motion: A person can scramble an egg just by shaking it. It’s not necessary to crack the shell. A brain injury can occur the same way. Violent motion, like whiplash n a car crash, often scrambles the brain without breaking the skull.
  • Sudden Loud Noise: Explosive blasts and other sudden loud noises trigger shock waves which disrupt brain functions. These shock waves have made TBIs the “signature wound” of the Iraq and Afganistan Wars, according to many doctors. Many witnesses say that the noise of a car crash sounds like an explosion, so it may have the same effect on the brain.

Brain injury symptoms vary almost as much as the causes. Initially, most people suffer a loss of consciousness. That could be complete incapacitation or a dazed feeling. Different people react differently to different causes. Soon afterward, victims begin experiencing tinnitus (ringing in the ears), headaches, and like Allison, personality changes. Eventually, if the injury is not properly treated, victims experience dementia-like symptoms and even death.

Damages in a brain injury case typically 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.

Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and Brain Injury Treatments

The financial compensation which Brainerd, MN injury attorneys help deliver does more than bring justice to victims. It also gives them the financial resources they need to obtain the treatment they need.

In trauma brain injury situations, this treatment often includes emergency surgery. Doctors must act quickly to relieve brain bleeding and swelling.

In all situations, brain injuries require extensive physical therapy. The therapist has a big job. Brain injury therapists must train uninjured parts of the brain to take over any lost functions. That’s because brain injuries are always permanent. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate. Additionally, the permanent nature of these injuries make the road to recovery a long and winding one. Progress usually takes place in fits and starts.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

A serious brain injury has lifelong effects. 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.

How Far Does MN’s Dog Bite Law Stretch?

Minnesota has one of the most victim-friendly dog bite laws in the country. Pet owners are strictly liable for dog bite injuries, even if they did not know the animal was dangerous. Minnesota law essentially presumes that certain dogs are dangerous, based on their size and their genetic makeup. Though not always true, that’s certainly a reasonable assumption.

Liability extends to both economic and noneconomic injuries. Physical dog bite injuries often require extensive reconstructive surgery. That’s particularly true if, as is often the case, the victim is a young child. Buffalo injury lawyers also obtain compensation for emotional injuries. Most dog bite victims, especially children, struggle with life-altering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

Because of the strict liability law’s expansive nature, Buffalo injury lawyers on both sides of the bar have tested it from time to time. These experiments are not just academic exercises. They may have a direct impact on your family.

Indirect Animal Attacks

People attack each other in many different ways. But as far as Minnesota courts are concerned, dogs only attack people when they bite.

In a 1991 case, the Minnesota Supreme Court refused to extend the dog bite statute to a distracted driving fatality. A pet owner lost control of her dog in her vehicle, and then she lost control of the vehicle itself. In so doing, she fatally struck a small child. The family filed a legal claim against the pet owner and initially prevailed in trial court.

But the Supreme Court ultimately reversed that decision. The Justices reasoned that “attack” and “injure” are both direct, active verbs. Therefore, although the dog arguably caused the distracted driving incident, it did not actively “attack” or “injure” the child.

The family might still have a claim for negligence, the court noted. According to the record, the animal was “frisky.” So, carrying it unrestrained in a vehicle was not only unsafe for the dog. It was also dangerous for everyone else.

There is an important lesson here for Buffalo injury lawyers. It’s important to proceed under the correct legal theory. In a dog bite claim, that could be the strict liability statute, negligence, or scienter (knowledge). Essentially, if the animal had attacked someone before, the owner is held to a higher standard of care.

Buffalo Injury Lawyers and Provoked Attacks

Provocation is basically the only recognized defense to a strict liability animal attack claim. Other defenses may be available to negligence and scienter claims. However, in this context, “provocation” is a very dense word.

First, it contains both physical and emotional elements. Teasing is not synonymous with provoking. To provoke a dog, the victim must inflict so much pain on the animal that a violent response is fully justified. If the provocation is repetitive, like hitting the dog with a stick, walking away, and then hitting the dog again, this defense is easier to establish. Additionally, the provocation must be malicious. Some people seemingly provoke animals to test their limits or to make themselves feel better.

Second, it doesn’t apply to everyone. As a matter of law, young children cannot provoke animals. Arguably, the same thing applies to very old victims.

Risky Attacks

Assumption of the risk may be a defense as well. In a very controversial case, the Minnesota Supreme Court recently affirmed the core principles of assumption of the risk, which are:

  • Voluntary assumption of
  • A known risk.

Many times, insurance company lawyers try to invoke “Beware of Dog” signs in this area. However, the victim/plaintiff must have been able to see the sign, read it, and understand it. If a bush or tree obscures the sign, it might as well not be there. Similarly, if the victim has limited reading or English skills, the sign might as well not be there. The same thing applies if the victim cannot make the connection between a dangerous dog and a bite injury.

Assumption of the risk is easier to prove if the owner issues a verbal “careful, he bites” warning.

This defense is normally absolute. If the insurance company proves assumption of the risk, and the insurance company has the burden of proof on this issue, the victim/plaintiff typically receives no compensation.

Count on an Aggressive Attorney

Dog bite victims may be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Physician Negligence

When doctors become doctors, they swear that even if they can do no good, they must do no harm. Unfortunately, not all physicians live up to that commitment later in their careers.

Generally, doctors are morally and personally responsible for their own mistakes, just like the rest of us. But legal responsibility is different. Typically, the hospital, clinic, or other entity which employs the doctor is liable for damages in physician-related wrongful death claims. That’s true in negligence cases and some intentional tort claims as well.

Mistakes like the ones outlined below often inflict significant economic and noneconomic damages on Minnesota families. A Brainerd personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain compensation for these losses.

Prescription/Medication Errors

Some physicians prescribe incredibly powerful opioid pain relievers, like Fentanyl, for relatively mild injuries, such as a broken leg. Fentanyl is fifty times stronger than heroin, so patients easily become addicted. In fact, many Fentanyl patients develop opioid addictions even if they take the drug exactly as directed.

To continue taking painkillers after their original doctors cut them off, many patients seek out doctors at “pill mills.” These physicians write prescriptions and do not ask too many questions. Failure to examine the patient’s medical history in these cases is clear evidence of negligence. Consulting the patient’s history, ignoring it, and writing a prescription anyway is even worse.

On a related note, Brainerd personal injury lawyers sometimes become involved in nursing home medication error cases. At a busy care facility, it’s very easy to give the wrong patient the wrong kind of medicine. Alternatively, it’s also easy to misplace a decimal point or transpose two numbers and give a resident the incorrect dose. These explanations do not excuse negligence, and the care facility is still liable for damages.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Birth Injuries

Nothing turns utter joy into utter heartbreak like a serious birth injury. Furthermore, even if the victim survives, the family often faces a lifetime of further heartache and mounting medical bills.

Shoulder dystocia is one of the most common causes of birth injuries in Minnesota. If the baby is too large to move down the mother’s birth canal, the umbilical cord continues dropping. In a matter of minutes, it will cut off oxygen to the baby’s brain. Since doctors know that the clock is ticking, they often get desperate and turn to dangerous delivery aids, such as:

  • Vacuum Extractor: The doctor places a metal cap on the baby’s head and uses a surgical vacuum to literally suck the child out of the mother’s womb. The excessive force often causes fatal injuries to the fragile newborn. Additionally, if not fitted exactly right, the metal cap will cause a permanent brain injury.
  • Forceps: This mechanical delivery instrument resembles a pair of giant salad tongs. The doctor uses forceps to pull the baby out of the womb. Much like a vacuum extractor, forceps often cause several types of fatal injuries.
  • Episiotomy: Once upon a time, doctors routinely made incisions on the mother’s perineum to widen the birth canal. Doctors now know that these incisions often cause uncontrollable maternal bleeding. But when the pressure is on, some doctors fall back on what they once knew.

Other infants and mothers develop serious or fatal hospital infections, perhaps due to something like the Bair Hugger Warming Blanket. This gadget sucks dirty air from the floor, heats it so bacteria grows even faster, and uses it to warm the patient’s blanket.

Misdiagnosis

On average, doctors listen to their patients for eleven seconds before they redirect or interrupt them. After such brief interaction, it’s impossible to know anything meaningful about a patient’s symptoms. So, misdiagnosis is a serious problem, especially with regard to:

  • Cancer: Most doctors see cancer as a lifestyle or genetic disease. So for example, they hardly ever diagnose lung cancer in nonsmokers, breast cancer in men, or bladder cancer in young people.
  • Head Injuries: Many head injury victims are either young children or older adults. When these individuals complain about symptoms like confusion or disorientation, doctors often assign the symptoms to shock from the accident or early-onset dementia. The longer head injuries go undiagnosed, the more difficult they are to treat.
  • Heart Attacks: In many cases, heart attacks lack signature symptoms. For example, many female heart attack victims do not have severe chest pains. Moreover, like cancer, many doctors see heart attacks as lifestyle or genetic conditions.

Making matters worse, many doctors do not order a full battery of tests. They are afraid that the insurance company will not pay for the procedures.

Surgical Errors

It is hard to believe that a doctor could operate on the wrong patient, remove the wrong limb, leave a surgical object inside a patient’s body, or make other such mistakes. However, errors like these are not unheard of, especially in very busy emergency or operating rooms.

Sometimes, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer may be able to obtain higher damages in surgical error cases than in other kinds of medical negligence claims. Mistakes like the ones mentioned above are shockingly negligent. Additionally, some courts consider these claims to be battery, which is an intentional tort.

Contact Aggressive Attorneys

Medical negligence often leads to wrongful death. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Three Liability Theories Buffalo Personal Injury Lawyers Use in Dog Bite Claims

Every year, dogs attack over four million people. A number of these incidents cause serious injury, and many of these injuries are invisible to the naked eye.

Many dog bite victims are young children, and in these cases, the physical injuries are often gruesome. Dogs usually bite into flesh and then tear it. As a result, victims have both deep puncture wounds and serious abrasions. This combination usually necessitates reconstructive surgery. Techniques in this area have improved significantly since 2009. Progress has not been cheap, which probably explains why medical costs have escalated so much over the last ten years.

Buffalo personal injury lawyers can also obtain compensation for noneconomic damages. Typically, animal attack victims suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms. High-stress events, like sudden dog bites or being in combat, erode the cerebral cortex. This part of the brain controls logical thought. As a result, the amygdala, which controls emotional responses, becomes too powerful. This imbalance explains symptoms like flashbacks, heightened awareness, and an unnatural fear of dogs.

Both animal owners and non-owners may be legally responsible for damages in Minnesota. In a nutshell, the Gopher State’s law gives Buffalo personal injury lawyers multiple options in these situations.

Minnesota’s Strict Liability Animal Attack Law

Buffalo dog owners are liable for all animal attack damages as a matter of law. Victims need not prove that the owner knew the animal was dangerous. Victims also do not need to prove fault or negligence. They only need to establish causation.

This law broadly defines “owners.” This term includes both record owners and temporary custodians. Furthermore, if a person takes in a stray dog and never legally adopts it, that person is still the dog’s owner. A temporary custodian could be a veterinarian or a vet assistant.

Minnesota’s strict liability rule is one of the broadest ones in the country. Owners or custodians must pay full compensation for all damages. Moreover, the law bars most of the normal common-law negligence defenses. That includes things like contributory negligence.

Provocation is the only recognized defense, so insurance companies almost always raise it. In this context, provocation means more than aggressive teasing or even physical harm. Instead, victims provoke animals when they inflict so much pain that the animal must respond violently. Moreover, Minnesota’s version of the provocation defense usually requires multiple or extended incidents. And, some individuals, such as very young children, cannot provoke a dog as a matter of law.

Buffalo Personal Injury Lawyers and Negligence Claims

As mentioned, dog bites often cause catastrophic injuries. Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies have very high claims limits. But in some cases, especially if someone like a dog walker was primarily responsible, the victim may need an additional source of compensation.

Negligence is essentially a lack of ordinary care. Persons who act carelessly are usually liable for the damages they cause, strict liability law or not. To establish negligence, the tortfeasor (negligent actor) must violate a legal duty and thereby cause damages.

These claims also introduce the prospect of third-party liability. Let’s return to the dog walker example. Assume Cindy is walking a dog in an off-leash park. While she is not looking, the dog then attacks a nearby child. If Cindy worked for a dog walking company or even got her gig from a referral agency, that company may be liable for damages under the respondeat superior rule. This doctrine applies if the tortfeasor was:

  • An employee who
  • Was acting within the scope of employment.

The law defines both these prongs in broad, victim-friendly terms. So, even if the company had no direct control over Cindy, it might still be an “employer” for negligence purposes. Minnesota is a modified joint and several liability state. Generally, if there are multiple responsible parties, the judge apportions damages among them based on their percentage of fault.

Scienter Claims in Minnesota

This Latin word means “knowledge.” Scienter harkens back to the common-law one bite rule. In many ways, scienter is like negligence. But the culpability level is higher. If the owner or custodian knew the animal was dangerous and the dog bites someone, carelessness does not matter. Evidence of knowledge includes things like:

  • Vicious barking,
  • Baring of teeth,
  • Lunging, and
  • Growling.

Assume Cindy never took her eyes off the dog. But the dog growls at a child and attacks the child a moment later. Under these facts, Cindy knew the dog was dangerous and did nothing to prevent the incident. Therefore, she may also be liable for additional punitive damages. These damages are available if the tortfeasor disregarded a known risk and endangered other people. That’s arguably the case in this situation.

Contact an Aggressive Attorney

Dog bite victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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Brainerd Lawyers

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Brainerd, MN 56401

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Hutchinson, MN 55350

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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

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