Can a Minnesota Personal Injury Attorney Help Brain Injury Victims?

Disabling head injuries are not limited to football players. In fact, over five million Americans live with such injuries. Another party’s negligence, whether it be a sports group or an individual, usually causes these injuries.

As victims struggle to recover from these wounds, insurance companies often pressure them relentlessly to settle their claims. Adjusters know that these victims are experiencing severe financial distress. So, it’s often tempting to take the settlement offer. But victims cannot possibly know if the offers are fair.

As outlined below, a Minnesota personal injury attorney addresses both these concerns. So, victims can focus on their recoveries.

Brain Injury Causes

Motor vehicle collisions cause most brain injuries in Minnesota. These incidents often combine all three common head injury causes, which are:

  • Trauma: Even the most advanced restraint systems cannot absorb all the force in a high-speed car crash. So, victims often slam their heads on solid objects.
  • Motion: The brain does not fit snugly inside the skull. Instead, the brain is suspended in a deep pool of cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore, when victims’ heads violently move backward and forward during crashes, their brains repeatedly slam against the insides of their skulls.
  • Noise: Most witnesses say that car crashes sound like explosions. These sudden loud noises trigger shockwaves which disrupt brain functions.

Frequently, car crash head injury victims do not feel injured. The brain usually masks its own wounds. That’s why the aforementioned concussed athletes often ask their coaches to put them back in the game because they “feel fine.” So, it’s always important to go to a car crash injury specialist. Otherwise, a serious head injury might go untreated.

Falls are another leading cause of brain injuries. These incidents could cause a motion or trauma-related brain injury. And, most fall victims have no protective gear to lessen the blow.

Assaults also cause a number of head wounds. If inadequate security, like a burned-out security light or an inadequate security system, contributed to the assault, the landowner might be responsible for damages. That’s assuming the landowner had a legal duty to protect the victim and the landowner knew about the problem.

Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyers and Short-Term Help

As mentioned, immediate medical assistance is critical in head injury cases. If the damage spreads and symptoms become worse, these wounds are much more difficult to treat.

Unfortunately, head injuries are among the most commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions. Many victims do not experience signature symptoms, like unconsciousness or nausea. When patients report lesser symptoms, such as soreness or confusion, doctors often dismiss these symptoms as shock from the incident. That’s especially true in car crash cases.

Therefore, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer does not just connect a victim with a doctor. This doctor is usually an injury specialist who knows how to diagnose and treat head injuries.

There’s more. At this point, many victims are out of work. And, head injury medical bills often exceed $100,000. Most families do not have the resources to pay these costs.

So, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer typically sends a letter of protection to the medical provider. This letter guarantees payment when the case is resolved. Thus, the provider charges nothing upfront. Prior to the case’s resolution, Minnesota personal injury lawyers typically negotiate with providers and lower the medical bills. That could mean the victim gets to keep more of the settlement money.

Long-Term Assistance

Medical treatment is not just important for the victim’s health. It’s also an important evidence-collection tool. In addition to diagnosis and treatment information, most medical records contain notes about the patient’s pain level and general attitude. Since victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in negligence cases, Minnesota personal injury lawyers must collect as much evidence as possible.

Additional witness statements are often important as well. Many head injury victims cannot give testimony in court, either because they did not survive the injury or they do not remember it. Minnesota personal injury lawyers, often working with private investigators, know how to reach out to witnesses who may have seen something.

Strong, evidence-based claims frequently settle out of court. So, victims need not go to trial to obtain compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

Head injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Jail Release and Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers

The Gopher State has one of the highest unsentenced inmate percentages in the United States. Most jail inmates are simply waiting for their trial dates. They have not been convicted of anything. This situation is not good for a number of reasons, some of which are outlined below.

The high unsentenced inmate population gives Minnesota criminal defense lawyers more options than ever in terms of jail release. Keep reading to learn more about them. In most cases, even if you were charged with a serious felony, there’s no reason to wait for your trial date in an iron cage.

Why Jail Release is Important

Pretrial detention makes it very difficult to successfully resolve criminal cases. In fact, according to many observers, pretrial detention transforms the presumption of innocence into a presumption of guilt.

These individuals understandably want quick trial dates. As a result, a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer might be forced to take shortcuts during the case evaluation and evidence collection processes. Furthermore, many people who are behind bars accept unfavorable plea bargain arrangements just to “get it over with.” Indirect effects, like immigration consequences of a felony conviction,  do not get the attention they deserve.

Jail release is also important for personal reasons, and not all these reasons are obvious. For example, incarceration greatly increases stress hormone production. Prolonged exposure to these hormones alters brain chemistry. Have you ever known a person who went to jail and came back as a different person? That’s because their brains are different.

Initial Jail Release

Blue states like Minnesota have rather liberal jail release policies. However, only a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer knows how to take full advantage of them.

If the defendant is charged with a nonviolent offense and has no criminal record, pretrial release might be an option. A review board examines the case, and if the board decides OR (own recognizance) release is appropriate, the board tells the Sherriff to release the defendant without posting any financial security.

Even if they meet the minimum qualifications, not everyone receives OR release. Sometimes, the board thinks that the defendant does not take the charges seriously. If the defendant has already hired a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer, that concern is irrelevant.

Cash bond is almost always an option. Essentially, cash bond is like a rental security deposit. If tenants pay the rent on time and take care of the property, they get most of the deposit back when the lease ends. Likewise, if defendants appear at trial and fulfill other obligations, like staying out of trouble with the law, they get most of the bond back when the case is over.

Bond amount varies, but it’s usually about $750 for a misdemeanor and $2,000 for most felonies. To many families, $2,000 might as well be $2 billion. That’s one reason the unsentenced proportion is so high. Many people simply don’t have the money.

So, a bail bond is usually available as well. A bail bond is like an insurance policy. If the house burns down, the fire insurance company covers the loss. If the defendant does not appear at trial, the bail bond company covers the financial loss. Most bonding companies charges about a 15 percent policy premium.

Frequently, bail bonds come with many, many strings attached. In addition to staying out of trouble with the police, most defendants must report to a bail bond officer and fulfill other conditions. A Minnesota criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with the bonding company and reduce these extra conditions.

Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers and Bail Reduction Hearings

Despite an attorney’s best efforts, bail is often either unavailable or unaffordable, at least initially. At the arraignment, which usually occurs about forty-eight hours after arrest, a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer can ask the judge to reduce bail. Some factors in this decision include:

  • Severity of the offense,
  • Defendant’s ability to pay,
  • Amount of evidence against the defendant,
  • Defendant’s contact with the community (e.g. family and/or job), and
  • Any threat to the community if the defendant is released.

These matters, and all criminal matters, usually settle out of court. For example, the prosecutor might agree to reduce bail if the defendant agrees to electronic monitoring.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Prompt jail release does not guarantee a successful result, but it does put the wind at your back. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

Can MN DWI Lawyers Beat the Breathalyzer?

If officers have probable cause to believe that the defendant is intoxicated, they may ask the defendant to provide a chemical sample. Nationwide, about 20 percent of drivers refuse to Breathalyzer test. That percentage may be a little lower in Minnesota, since the Gopher State has a refusal-to-submit law. In refusal cases, prosecutors can, and almost always do, upgrade the charges to third-degree DUI.

Without a chemical test, prosecutors must rely on circumstantial evidence to obtain convictions in these cases. It is much easier for MN DWI Lawyers to challenge such evidence in court. That’s especially true because of the high burden of proof in criminal cases. County prosecutors must establish guilt beyond any and all reasonable doubt.

Even if the defendant provided a breath sample, there may be an effective defense. However, some of these defenses are more effective than others.

Three Breathalyzer Myths in Minnesota

Alexander Pope once wrote that “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Some of the most prominent breathalyzer myths have a grain of truth, but that’s about it.

Suck on a Penny

“If you’ve been drinkin’ then suck on Lincoln,” right? Copper does disrupt the chemical process which the Breathalyzer measures. A sufficient amount of copper may alter the results enough to call them into question.

Alas, pennies only have trace amounts of copper. They are mostly zinc and other cheap metals with copper coloring. So, to affect the test, a person must suck on a mouthful of pennies, and even that may not be enough. Moreover, officers almost always check for foreign substances before they administer the test.

Drink Coffee/Chew Gum

These actions temporarily eliminate some intoxication effects. Drinking coffee helps people feel more alert and chewing gum masks the odor of alcohol.

However, these things do not “cure” intoxication. Only time does that. So, even if you chew a whole pack of Extra Spearmint Gun and down a thermos of coffee, Breathalyzer results are unaffected. Moreover, officers may use other signs of alcohol consumption as reasonable suspicion, such as bloodshot eyes or an oral admission.

Chug Alcohol

In 2012, a Florida man left the scene of a fatal DUI crash, went to a nearby Circle K, bought a can of beer, and began drinking. He eventually pleaded guilty, but his idea was somewhat sound. As outlined below, mouth alcohol affects Breathalyzer results.

However, the Breathalyzer measures ethanol particles in the breath as opposed to liquid alcohol in the mouth. So, much like the penny suck defense, someone must consume a very, very large amount of alcohol to change the test results. That’s usually not possible. Moreover, the jury may consider sudden consumption an admission of guilt. Jurors may also not look too kindly on such a brazen attempt to flaunt the Breathalyzer.

Three Breathalyzer Flaws

So much for some major Breathalyzer myths. Fortunately, MN DWI Lawyers may also draw on some Breathalyzer facts. These flaws are especially significant in borderline BAC cases, such as a .08 or .09.

To fully appreciate these flaws, it’s important to understand how the Breathalyzer works. Breathalyzers measure breath alcohol levels and then use that figure to estimate Blood Alcohol Content. That extra step may make a big difference.

Mouth Alcohol

Liquid alcohol only affects the results slightly. But burping, vomiting, or belching affects the results significantly. Ethanol particles flood the mouth when these things happen.

Technically, officers must monitor defendants for fifteen minutes before they administer breath tests. But under current law, officers need not monitor defendants very closely. So, there may be no way to tell if the defendant burped, vomited, or belched immediately prior to the test.

Unabsorbed Alcohol

The body processes alcohol through the liver, into the blood, and out through urine. The absorption process takes at least an hour in most cases.

If the defendant has been drinking during that time period, the breath alcohol level may not accurately reflect the blood alcohol level. It is not illegal to “drink and drive.” In chemical test cases, it is only illegal to have a BAC above the legal limit.

Unless the defendant says s/he has not had anything to drink within the last couple of hours, a Brainerd lawyer can use the unabsorbed alcohol theory to create reasonable doubt as to the test result.

Ketone/Acetone Levels

Smokers, diabetics, and some other people have high acetone levels in their breath. Acetone is an industrial solvent commonly found in nail polish remover. But the body also produces acetone in small quantities. In certain cases, that production is even higher. In fact, some people with high ketone levels develop ketoacidosis, which is a potentially fatal condition.

Breathalyzers register acetone as ethanol, since these substances are chemically similar. The Breathalyzer result is just a number. This gadget does not break down the breath alcohol level. So, there is no way to know how much of the score is ethanol and how much is acetone. In some cases, that uncertainty may be enough to produce reasonable doubt as to the results.

Call Today To Speak With An Experienced MN DWI Lawyer From Carlson & Jones

Even if the defendant provides a chemical sample, all is not lost in a DUI case. For a free consultation with an experienced MN DWI Lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle cases statewide.

Six Property Division Factors in a McLeod County Divorce

Minnesota is an equitable division state. During marriage dissolution proceedings, the judge must divide property and debt equitably, which is not necessarily the same thing as equally.

Nevertheless, there is a very strong presumption in favor of a 50-50 division. To overcome this presumption, Hutchinson lawyers may use one of the following factors. Since the presumption is so strong, the evidence on these points must be substantial. Even then, great disparities are not very common.

Technically, the burden of proof in these matters is a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). However, given the strong 50-50 presumption, spouses seeking unequal divisions may need to present clear and convincing evidence that an equal split is not an equitable division. This evidence usually involves one of the factors discussed below.

Length of the Marriage

In spousal support matters, length of the marriage is one of the leading factors, especially when it comes to determining duration of payments. In fact, nearby Illinois uses the length of the marriage to set presumptive alimony lengths. This factor is important in property distribution matters as well. The longer the relationship lasted, the greater the expectation in terms of an equal division.

But for Hutchinson lawyers who seek to divide marital property, this factor is just one of many.

Any Prior Marriages

This factor could go one of several ways. Prior marriages could mean prior property loss. For example, if Wife’s retirement account has already been divided in half once, Hutchinson lawyers may work extra hard to make sure it is not divided in half once again. It could also mean prior property awards. If Husband has a share of an income-producing rent house, that could factor into the current property division.

Prior marriages could also mean other financial obligations, like alimony or child support payments. These obligations could also affect the current divorce case.

Relative Health and Age of Each Spouse

Typically, husbands and wives are roughly the same age. So, this factor may not come into play very often.

But in some cases, there may be significant differences. May-December romances are certainly not unheard of. Moreover, illness or disability can strike any person at any time. These issues can affect a person’s ability to earn money. And, by law, a Minnesota divorce must not be an unfair financial burden for either spouse.

Health issues may also be a basis for future modification. The change could involve the sudden onset, or the sudden removal, of an illness or disability.

Vocational Skills and Economic Opportunity

This factor is closely related to the previous one. Following divorce, women’s standard of living declines quite rapidly. Furthermore, this gap usually remains for a number of years.

This argument seems convincing. However, it is only statistical and speculative. Nevertheless, if properly used or refuted, it could tip the scales one way or the other.

If the court grants an unequal distribution due to this factor, the division is usually a means to an end. Some spouses need to further their education or accept low-paying internships before they fully re-enter the workforce. The additional property gives them the additional income they need.

Agreements Between the Spouses

Hutchinson lawyers try to engineer spousal agreements whenever possible. Especially in the property distribution area, these agreements carry great weight. In fact, most Minnesota courts even uphold one-sided agreements as long as each spouse had separate counsel, neither spouse hid critical data, and the agreement was not unconscionable (e.g. one spouse gets all the property and the other one gets all the debts).

Marital agreements may be made or modified by mutual consent at any time. They are very good tools when it comes to property division issues.

Economic and Noneconomic Contributions

Although financial contributions are usually rather easy to measure, there are often complexities. Returning to the previous rent house example, Wife may have a landscaping company which services the house for free or for a reduced price.

Noneconomic contributions could be very significant or could be almost nothing. Sometimes, there is a very clear division between breadwinner spouses and caretaker spouses. Furthermore, in many cases, the caretaker spouse forgoes career opportunities to care for the home.

Other times, the “homemaker factor” is negligible at best. Many spouses share the breadwinner/caretaker roles, at least to a considerable extent. Other couples have no children or were not married long enough for this effect to truly kick in.

Call Today To Speak With A Hutchinson Lawyer From Carlson & Jones

At Carlson & Jones, P.A., our experienced Hutchinson lawyers protect your legal and financial rights throughout the divorce process. Contact us today for a free consultation. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

HUTCHINSON LAWYERS

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350
Toll Free: (855) 663-7423
Phone: (320) 289-4761
Fax: 763-682-3330

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The Five Types of Impaired Driving In Minnesota

Human error is in some way responsible for over 90 percent of the car crashes in Minnesota. Legally, any type of human error could denote a lack of care or a safety law violation. However, jurors are much more likely to award compensation if the wreck involved one of the five types of impairment, as outlined below.

If the victim sustained a serious injury, MN personal injury lawyers may obtain compensation for both economic damages, such as medical bills, and noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering. Minnesota law defines a “serious injury” as any wound that triggers medical bills exceeding $4,000.

Alcohol

Beginning in the early 1990s, courts and law enforcement began an extended crackdown against drunk drivers. Yet despite all these efforts, alcohol still account for more than a quarter of the fatal car crashes in the United States.

Alcohol is a depressant which impairs motor skills and reaction times. Alcohol is also a powerful mood-altering substance which impairs judgment.

In alcohol-related collisions, MN personal injury lawyers may pursue claims against the tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who caused the crash. They may also seek compensation from the grocery store, bar, restaurant or other commercial alcohol provider if the sale:

  • Substantially caused the tortfeasor’s impairment, and
  • Was illegal (i.e. the tortfeasor was under 21 or was obviously intoxicated at the time).

Direct evidence is sufficient to establish an illegal sale to a minor. The person was either over or under 21. The old “s/he looked older” defense usually does not work. If the tortfeasor was an adult, the victim/plaintiff may use circumstantial evidence to prove obvious intoxication. This evidence may include bloodshot eyes, unsteady balance, or odor of alcohol.

This same evidence is usually sufficient to prove impairment, since alcohol impairment begins with the first drink.

Sleepiness

Many people would never think of drinking and driving as they are aware of the dangers. Yet many of these same people routinely drive when they are dangerously fatigued. Most people admit as such; some even admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel.

Drowsy driving is no small matter. Alcohol and fatigue affect the brain in about the same way. Driving after eighteen hours without sleep is like driving with a .08 BAC.

Lack of sleep only tells part of the story. Most people are naturally sleepy early in the morning and late at night. It does not matter how much rest they did or did not get the night before. Time-of-day sleepiness is particularly acute if the tortfeasor recently changes work schedules.

So, MN personal injury lawyers may use either the time of the accident or the amount of sleep the tortfeasor had to establish liability in these cases.

Drugs

Alcohol is by no means the only substance that impairs drivers. Many drugs have roughly the same effect. Some are entirely legal, some are legal under certain circumstances, and some are entirely illegal.

In some jurisdictions, drugged driving incidents outnumber drunk driving incidents. Many of these crashes involve opioid prescription drugs, like:

  • Oxycontin,
  • Fentanyl,
  • Vicodin, and
  • Codeine.

Even if the tortfeasor had a valid prescription and was not abusing the drug, it is still negligence to drive while under its influence. Many opioid pain relievers, especially Fentanyl, are hundreds of times stronger than morphine.

MN personal injury lawyers also deal with crashes which involve street drugs, like LSD and heroin. Most of these substances are even stronger than opioids.

Many over-the-counter drugs also impair drivers. These drugs include items like Benadryl, Unisom, and Sudafed. Certain food additives, such as caffeine, may also be impairing.

Medical Episode

Diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, and a number of other conditions can all cause sudden loss of consciousness. These kinds of crashes are among the most dangerous ones. There is simply no telling where the car will go and what it will hit.

People who continue to drive with serious medical conditions clearly display a lack of care. Moreover, they show disregard for the safety and property of others, because they are well aware of the risk. That attitude is the essence of punitive damages. These damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known danger.

Many people who drive with medical conditions also violate the law. Minnesota usually suspends drivers’ licenses in these cases. Driving with a suspended license constitutes negligence per se, or negligence as a matter of law. In these cases, it does not matter how careful, or how careless, the tortfeasor was.

Distraction

Sometimes, the impairment is external rather than internal. That’s the case with distracted driving, which is the latest addition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s list of impairments. There are three kinds of distraction:

  • Visual (eyes off the road),
  • Cognitive (mind off driving), and
  • Manual (hand off the wheel).

Hand-held cell phones involve all three types of distraction. Hands-free cell phones, though manufacturers tout them as safe, still involve two types of distraction. Other sources include eating while driving and looking out the window instead of at the road.

In Minnesota, it is generally illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving. So, the aforementioned negligence per se rule may apply in these cases. With regard to other types of distraction MN personal injury lawyers must establish a lack of care by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

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

Impaired drivers often cause the most serious injuries in car wreck cases. For a free consultation with an experienced MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can arrange for medical care at no upfront cost, even if the victim has no money or insurance.

Special Issues in Buffalo, Minnesota Bus Crashes

Between public bus services and tour bus services, many of these large vehicles pass through Wright County on a daily basis. These passengers put all their trust in the drivers who operate the buses, the mechanics who make sure they are road-worthy, and the other people that work to make these trips successful. Because of that trust, there are some special duty and liability issues in this area, as outlined below.

Unfortunately, not all these trips are safe, and so Buffalo, MN lawyers deal with many bus crash cases. These incidents usually cause catastrophic injuries, so the compensation is usually substantial.

That compensation usually includes damages for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well. Victim/plaintiffs are entitled to these damages if there is clear and convincing evidence of intentional disregard for the safety or property of other people.

Enhanced Legal Duty

Bus drivers, Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and other operators who transport people for money are common carriers in Minnesota. In the words of one landmark court decision, every common carrier has “a duty to use the highest degree of care for the safety of its passengers.” In fact, Minnesota judges have consistently held that common carriers are all but insurers of safe conduct.

This duty has at least two components. First, drivers must be extra cautious on the road. For example, most noncommercial drivers may proceed through intersections if they have green lights. But arguably, commercial carriers must pause and make sure the way is clear before they move forward. The same thing applies with regard to vehicle speed, especially since large buses are so hard to stop.

Second, drivers or other company employees must ensure that the passenger area is safe. They must clean up wet spots on floors and change burned-out light bulbs. They must also make sure that altercations between passengers do not become violent. That’s especially important in party bus trips wherein many of the passengers are at least mildly intoxicated.

The higher duty makes it easier for Buffalo, MN lawyers to establish liability, as outlined below. The higher standard of conduct also means that Wright County jurors often award higher damages in these cases.

How Buffalo, MN Lawyers Establish Liability

Fatigue is one of the leading causes of Buffalo bus crashes. In fact, drowsy drivers may cause about 40 percent of these wrecks. While there is no Breathalyzer test for fatigue, there are a number of ways to establish drowsiness in court:

  • Witness Accounts: Passengers may see drivers stare off into space or even nod odd briefly. They may also overhear drivers make statements about their lack of sleep. What witnesses see is nearly always admissible in court. The things they overhear may be admissible in some cases.
  • Driver Statements: Even if they are not recorded in the police accident report, Buffalo, MN lawyers may be able to admit statements like “I’m sleepy” because of an exception to the hearsay rule.
  • Time of Day: Both tour and interstate buses often operate late at night or early in the morning. Everyone has a circadian rhythm. So, most people are naturally sleepy at these hours, no matter how much rest they got the night before. This effect is even more pronounced if the driver recently changed shifts.
  • Electronic Logging Devices: The trucking industry fought the ELD mandate tooth and nail. But it finally took effect in the spring of 2018. These gadgets automatically record hours of service. They are essentially tamper-proof and connected to the vehicle’s ignition. As such, they provide basically foolproof information about hours of service compliance.

To establish liability, Buffalo, MN lawyers must show either a violation of a safety rule or a lack of care. The first three bullets above all concern a lack of care. The fourth relates to a violation of the HOS requirement, which is negligence per se in Minnesota.

Damages Available in Bus Crash Cases

When a busload of passengers crashes, the injuries are usually widespread and catastrophic. The victims usually have no warning, and the vehicles usually have no seatbelts or airbags. In particularly severe cases, damages sometimes run into the millions of dollars. Under the respondeat superior rule, the bus owner is vicariously liable for these damages if the driver was:

  • An Employee: Almost all bus drivers are “employees” in this context because the bus company controls them to some extent. Even unpaid volunteers are usually employees under this broad standard.
  • Acting Within the Scope of Employment: Any activity which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. That could include driving an empty bus back to the garage.

Minnesota is a modified joint and several liability state. So, if there are multiple responsible parties, Wright County judges usually apportion damages based on the percentage of fault.

Call Today To Speak With A Lawyer in Buffalo, MN Today From Carlson & Jones

Bus crashes are tragic, but justice and compensation are both available. For a free consultation with experienced Buffalo, MN lawyers, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have offices located throughout the state.

BUFFALO LAWYERS

215 East Highway 55
Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313
Toll Free: (855) 663-7423
Phone: (612) 800-8057
Fax: 763-682-3330

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What Can a Minnesota Divorce Lawyer Do About PAS?

Emotionally separating a child from a parent is a criminal offense in some places and a child custody red flag in others. Yet parental alienation syndrome remains controversial in the United States. So, Minnesota divorce lawyers must be very aggressive in these cases.

The UK is the latest country to target this issue. Anthony Douglas is the Chief Executive Officer of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. CAFCASS is a division of the Ministry of Justice in England. Mr. Douglas recently said that PAS is “undoubtedly a form of neglect or child abuse.” He based this conclusion on a study of fifty high-conflict families. In response, CAFCASS is rolling out a number of preventative measures, including a 12-week educational program. The agency is also educating social workers about the issue. If these interventions are unsuccessful, PAS could be a basis for removing primary custody from the alienating parent and awarding it to the residential parent. The alienating parent would only have supervised visitation in these cases.

Social services like CAFCASS, and other advocates, claim that PAS is one of the most destructive forces which can affect divorced families. In extreme situations, PAS can lead to parental kidnapping and other such outcomes. Others claim that PAS has been “weaponized” to refute allegations of domestic abuse. Parenting coordinators, such as the ones in many U.S. cases, might be an effective middle ground.

In both Mexico and Brazil, parental alienation is a serious criminal offense.

What is PAS?

Parental alienation syndrome was once called “maternal brainwashing.” Essentially, the alienating parent drives an emotional wedge between the targeted parent and a child.

PAS is basically the exact opposite of co-parenting. Minnesota divorce lawyers work hard to ensure that children have consistent and meaningful contact with both their parents. Unless there are verified allegations of domestic abuse or some similar issues, such contact is in the best interests of the children, according to Minnesota law. PAS destroys co-parenting.

As child custody patterns have changed, PAS incidents have increased. In the 19th century, women had no legal rights, so fathers almost always got custody in divorce cases. Then, in the 20th century, most courts used some form of the “tender years” doctrine and awarded child custody to mothers, often with no questions asked. As the pendulum again shifts toward co-parenting, Minnesota divorce lawyers must deal with issues like PAS.

Signs of PAS

In the United States, many psychiatric professionals refuse to recognize PAS. But others acknowledge its dangers. If one parent cuts off the children from the other parent, the damage may be irreparable. So, it is important to look for the signs of parental alienation syndrome, such as:

  • Custody Interference: A few parents outright deny visitation to the other parent. But typically, the interference is much more subtle and perhaps even unintentional. For example, Mother may allow Daughter to attend a sleepover during Father’s weekend visitation.
  • Preference: One parent may give children a later bedtime, their own rooms, or other special privileges. Such preferences may come with a remark like “I bet mom/dad doesn’t let you do this.”
  • Disparaging Remarks: The temporary orders usually prohibit disparaging remarks. But these prohibitions are difficult to enforce. Sometimes, the only evidence of such remarks are subtle behavioral changes in the children.

Isolated incidents like these are usually not a problem. As James Bond novelist Ian Fleming once wrote: “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and thrice is enemy action.”

What to Do

Many Minnesota judges appoint parenting coordinators in high-conflict cases. These individuals are specially trained to facilitate co-parenting between two former spouses who dislike each other intensely, mistrust one another greatly, or both.

If you see evidence of PAS, have your Minnesota divorce lawyer express these concerns to the parenting coordinator. This person knows how to bring up the issue with your former spouse in a non-threatening manner. Many times, a few simple adjustments, and an awareness of the issue, may solve the problem.

If there is no parenting coordinator, have your Minnesota divorce lawyer file a motion to modify. Even if the motion is not successful, the judge will probably order a social services investigation. Much like parenting coordinators, social workers are experienced professionals who know the signs of PAS as well as the damage it does.

However, these motions are often successful. As mentioned, PAS indicates a co-parenting breakdown. Many times, this factor alone may be enough to warrant a change in residential custody. The moving party need only establish a substantial change in circumstances, and a co-parenting breakdown certainly qualifies as such.

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

If left unchecked, PAS destroys families. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have multiple offices throughout the state.

How Buffalo MN Lawyers Are Making Schools Safe

Classes are scheduled to resume soon in the Buffalo–Hanover–Montrose School District. Many teachers are already hard at work in these schools. But just as school bells are about to start ringing again, there are concerns that Buffalo’s aging school buildings may be dangerously unsafe.

Radon gas is a major concern. It is common in many older buildings and it is one of the strongest carcinogens known to medical science. Yet Minnesota schools are not even legally required to test for radon, although authorities have designated 80 percent of Minnesota counties as radon hot zones. In response to these concerns, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton promised swift action against this “hidden killer.” It is “disgraceful” that authorities have ignored this danger for so long, he added. As time has already expired in the 2018 Legislative session, the Governor hinted that he might sign an executive order on the subject.

But so far, there ahs been only talk.  Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm and Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Casselius rather unconvincingly said “we are exploring all available policy avenues including legislative proposals.”

Buffalo MN Lawyers and Mass Tort Cases

High levels of radon gas are a good example of a mass tort. These incidents involve very dangerous products or substances which affect large groups of people.

Legislative action only goes so far. Environmental and other such laws work very well so long as companies voluntarily comply with them. But new regulations almost always end up in court. Companies look for any possible way to challenge them, since as far as they are concerned, these rules simply mean unnecessary costs.

In contrast, Buffalo Lawyers often get results much faster in these cases. These matters usually settle out of court, and the more evidence that the victim/plaintiffs have, the faster they settle. Buffalo Lawyers have two major tools in these cases:

  • Negligence: All builders have a duty of care to make facilities which are safe. That duty is even higher with regard to schools, daycares, and other such buildings. Young children are especially susceptible to poisoning from exposure to toxic substances.
  • Public Nuisance: There are some pros and cons to these cases. Nuisance does not require a showing of fault or negligence. However, these cases are very complex, and they have lots of moving parts. A Buffalo lawyer can lay out all your options during an initial or follow-up consultation.

Damages in mass tort cases usually include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additionally, Wright County jurors often award substantial punitive damages in these cases. Many builders take shortcuts to save money during the construction process. This classic “profits before people” approach is usually the basis for such awards.

Toxic Substances in Schools

Many cleaning chemicals are highly toxic, especially to children who have chemical sensitivities to certain substances. Sometimes, the buildings themselves are dangerous as well. Some potential hazards include:

  • Radon Gas: This natural substance is in most buildings. Despite strict laws regulating its presence, radon is the second-leading cause of cancer in the United States. Children who spend eight hours a day at school are exposed to 10 times as much radiation as those who live adjacent to nuclear power plants.
  • Asbestos: This natural mineral is cheap and plentiful. Additionally, it is a very effective insulator and fire retarding agent. It is also incredibly hazardous and very common in buildings constructed before about 1980. The fibers are so small that about 20,000 of them could collect on the spot between Abraham Lincoln’s nose and mouth on a U.S. penny. Just one fiber can cause mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer.
  • Lead: This metal causes severe mental handicaps, along with other injuries. Based on new evidence about these hazards, the Centers for Disease Control recently cut the recommended exposure level in half. Buffalo lawyers can use noncompliance with this new standard as evidence of negligence.
  • Formaldehyde: This dangerous chemical is common in carpets, plywood, and foam insulation. All these items are common in schools.
  • Silica: Over the summer, many older Buffalo schools undergo extensive renovations. These activities often uncover asbestos fibers. Silica dust is another danger. Tiny particles often travel deep into the lungs, where much like asbestos fibers, they eventually cause lung cancer. Silica dust has also been linked to kidney cancer.

Evidence of toxic exposure includes spikes in certain kinds of cancer in certain areas, as well as individual medical records. In these cases, Buffalo lawyers may generally pursue claims against either the building contractor or the school district.

Call Today To Speak With A Buffalo MN Lawyer From Carlson & Jones

We believe that your children deserve to be safe when they go to school. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo MN Lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

BUFFALO MN LAWYERS

215 East Highway 55
Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313
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Five Possible Ways to Beat a Minnesota DWI Case

The fines, probation, licenses suspension, and other direct consequences of a first DWI are bad enough. The indirect consequences, such as higher insurance rates and the ramifications of a criminal record, could be even worse. Altogether, a DWI costs over $10,000.

Truth be told, many of these cases are difficult to defend. In some situations, the conviction rate can be over 80 percent. But Minnesota DWI lawyers know how to use procedural irregularities to suppress damaging evidence at trial. Moreover, these cases have lots of moving parts. Some of the more prominent ones are outlined below.

Intoxication

In many Minnesota DWI cases, intoxication is basically the only issue. Under Minnesota law, that intoxication could be because of any combination of drugs in the defendant’s system. Alcohol is almost always the only substance. But various other legal and illegal drugs, perhaps even substances like caffeine, could also trigger a DWI arrest.

To establish this vital element, prosecutors may use several types of evidence. The most common types are:

  • Chemical Test: If the driver provides a breath or blood sample and the sample indicates a Blood Alcohol Content of over .08, the defendant is intoxicated as a matter of law. Even if the defendant “passes” the Breathalyzer or other test, police officers can (and almost always do) file charges, based on the other types of evidence available.
  • Field Sobriety Tests: Exercises like the walk-and-turn (heel-to-toe walk) and the one-leg stand measure the defendant’s mental and physical abilities. If either is substantially impaired, a jury may conclude that the defendant was intoxicated. A third FST, the horizontal gaze nystagmus, is more of a medical test.
  • Statements: “I only had a couple of beers” and “I just came from a bar” are two of the most damaging statements that a defendant can make. Such evidence may also be indirect. For example, if the defendant refuses to provide a chemical sample, that refusal is usually admissible at trial.

The burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) is very high in these cases. So, lack of credible evidence is often the best defense that Minnesota DWI lawyers can use. For example, if the defendant admits to prior drinking, such evidence only establishes consumption. Or, a jury may well conclude that the defendant “passed” the FSTs even though the officer claims the defendant “failed” the test.

Driving

In plain English, driving simply means being behind the wheel and controlling the motor vehicle. In traffic stop cases, this element is easy to establish. The officer sees the defendant driving the car, and the defendant is behind the wheel when the officer approaches the car and identifies the driver.

But in other cases, this element is not so straightforward. Minnesota DWI lawyers handle many collision cases, and these are a good example. In a nonserious injury case, the defendant has usually exited the vehicle by the time first responders arrive. Since the officer or other responder did not see the defendant behind the wheel, that person cannot testify that the defendant was also the driver. In cases like these, the prosecutor must produce an additional witness who saw the defendant driving the car. That’s not always easy to do.

Of course, if the defendant admits to driving or makes a similar statement, such a witness is not necessary.

Operating

The “operating a motor vehicle” element is very broadly defined. According to the underlying court cases and the Minnesota DWI lawyers who prosecute these cases, operating really means “controlling” the vehicle.

Assume officers encounter a drunk person in a parked car. Even though the car is not in motion, the defendant was probably “operating” the vehicle for purposes of the statute. The prosecutor’s case is even stronger if the defendant had the keys. If the defendant did not have the keys or the car was inoperable for some reason, the prosecutor’s case is much weaker on this point.

Public Place

Any street, highway, or alley is a public place. A driveway or parking lot is not a public place, even though people turn around in other people’s driveways and anyone can drive to Walmart.

Motor Vehicle

Basically, any powered vehicle is a “motor vehicle.” That includes motorboats, Segways, riding lawnmowers, golf carts, powered wheelchairs, and so on. Boats and some other vehicles, like airplanes and helicopters, may be covered by different statutes.

Unpowered vehicles are another matter. Bicycles, skateboards, and so on are not motor vehicles in the Gopher State. Minnesota DWI lawyers could use a similar argument in cases involving something like a canoe, sailboat, or kayak. In the Land of 1,000 Lakes, such cases come up more often than you may think.

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

There are a number of ways to defend DWI and related cases. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Minnesota, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have four offices in the state.

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
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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

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Phone: (218) 736-9429
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Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
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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