Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer in Hutchinson, MN: How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident?

The average injury-related hospital bill often exceeds $100,000. This figure does not include indirect medical expenses, such as medical devices and prescription drugs. It also does not include noneconomic losses. Depending on the facts of a case, fair compensation for things like pain and suffering could be two or three times the economic losses.

A car crash claim is about more than money. The claim is also about justice. We all make mistakes while driving. And, we are all accountable for the mistakes that we make. That accountability includes liability for damages, if any.

Personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN are committed to maximum compensation for victims, in terms of both money and justice. On the other hand, insurance company lawyers are committed to minimum compensation for victims, in both these areas. In most cases, the amount someone can sue for a car accident depends on several basic variables.

Evidence in Vehicle Collision Claims

The victim/plaintiff must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Although that’s the lowest burden of proof in Minnesota law, evidence collection is still the foundation of all successful car crash claims.

Basic vehicle collision evidence usually includes the police accident report and medical bills. Knowledgable personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN can easily overcome privacy and other restrictions to obtain this evidence. These same privacy laws also apply to electronic evidence, as outlined below.

If liability is clear and the insurance company has no legal defenses, this basic evidence is usually sufficient. However, such cases are few and far between. Additionally, the more evidence a victim/plaintiff assembles, the more settlement value increases.

Frequently, personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN use electronic evidence to bolster the proof in car wreck claims. Some forms of electronic evidence include:

  • Event Data Recorder: Much like black box flight data recorders, EDRs measure and store operational information such as vehicle speed, steering angle, and brake application. Data such as this is often critical in car crash claims, especially when it comes to refuting insurance company defenses.
  • Cell Phone Data: Text message history, call logs, browsing history, and other such information could be critical in distracted driving claims. Cell phone location history could be important as well. For example, such data could establish that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) had been drinking recently.
  • Electronic Logging Device: Many commercial vehicles have ELDs. Since these gadgets keep track of service hours, they are often critical in drowsy driving cases.

As mentioned, Minnesota has very strong privacy laws, especially with regard to vehicle information. So, personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN must normally obtain court orders to access EDRs, cell phone data, and other such information.

Obtaining electronic evidence is only part of the picture. Attorneys must also know how to effectively present this information in court. On a related note, special evidentiary rules often apply to electronic evidence, in terms of things like authentication and verification.

Personal Injury Lawyers in Hutchinson, MN and Legal Theories

Car crash evidence is like the pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle. Attorneys must put the pieces together. Personal injury lawyers in Hutchinson, MN often partner with accident reconstruction professionals to help ensure maximum compensation.

Some claims, such as the aforementioned drowsy driving and distracted driving claims, rely on the ordinary negligence theory. Minnesota law forbids device distraction and fatigued driving, but these laws only apply in limited situations.

Ordinary negligence is basically a lack of care. Generally, drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must avoid accidents when possible and obey the rules of the road. Commercial drivers, such as Uber drivers, might have a higher duty of care.

Roughly half of all the fatal car crashes in McLeod County involve drug use, excessive speed, and/or alcohol use. These driving behaviors are illegal under almost any circumstances. So, the negligence per se shortcut usually applies. Tortfeasors are usually liable for damages as a matter of law if:

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

Frequently, the tortfeasor is not the only party who is responsible for damages. For example, Minnesota has one of the broadest dram shop laws in the country. Bars, grocery stores, restaurants, and other commercial providers might be vicariously liable for car crash damages.

The Contributory Negligence Defense

Comparative fault is probably the most common insurance company defense in car wreck claims. This legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim.

Assume Vicky Victim was traveling 50mph in a 45mph zone when Timmy Tortfeasor illegally moved into her lane. A McLeod County jury must consider the evidence and divide responsibility on a percentage basis. Since Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar, Timmy must be at least 51 percent responsible for Vicky to recover a proportionate share of damages.

To blunt the contributory negligence defense, Vicky’s personal injury lawyer in Hutchinson, MN could argue that although she was technically speeding, Vicky was not traveling fast enough to cause the crash.

Contact Aggressive Attorneys

Substantial compensation might be available in car crash claims. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Hutchinson, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several offices throughout the Gopher State.

How Much Money Can a Passenger Get in a Car Accident? A Good Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Knows.

In 2019, car crashes permanently injured millions of Americans. A tortfeasor (negligent driver) is usually responsible for these wrecks. That responsibility could be a lack of ordinary care, such as driving with a serious medical condition or while fatigued. Alternatively, that fault could be the violation of a safety law, like making an illegal turn or driving while intoxicated.

As outlined below, the legal rules are a bit different for passengers than for drivers. Nevertheless, substantial damages are usually available. These damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.

Since these claims are complex, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer should always evaluate your case. It does not matter which driver got a ticket, or if any driver got a ticket.

Physical Injuries

In car crashes, passengers are vulnerable to the same serious physical injuries as drivers. In fact, passengers might be even more vulnerable. Most drivers are at least somewhat paying attention to the road. So, when collisions are imminent, their bodies brace for impact. That’s often not true with regard to passengers.

Even if the victim was wearing a seat belt, which is normally the case, the extreme forces in vehicle collisions often cause injuries like:

  • Head Injuries: Passengers sustain head injuries in several different ways. Their heads often slam into dashboards or other solid objects. Moreover, in many wrecks, cell phones and other small objects become high-speed missiles. Most frequently, car crashes cause whiplash, which is a motion-related head injury.
  • Broken Bones: Fall-related fractures are sometimes not too serious. But crash-related fractures are usually extreme;y serious. The crushed bones usually require extensive surgery and physical therapy. Even then, permanent loss of full function is not unusual.
  • Internal Bleeding: Internal organs have no protective skin layer. So, when they grind and bump against each other, they often bleed profusely. In fact, it’s common for victims to be on the edge of hypovolemic shock before first responders even arrive.

Full compensation is usually available even if the victim had a pre-existing condition, like a bad knee. A Hutchinson, MN lawyer must only establish that the new injury aggravated the old injury, and not the other way around. This showing must only be by a preponderance of the proof (more likely than not). So, a little evidence goes a long way.

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and Insurance Company Defenses

Many negligence defenses involve driver conduct. This is where things get really complicated. So, an illustration might be useful.

Assume Don and Melanie are on their way to a party when Nancy crosses the center line and hits Don head-on. All three people are seriously injured.

Legally, the wreck could be Don’s fault or Nancy’s fault. That determination depends on the facts. If Nancy suddenly swerved into Don’s lane, she was probably liable. If Don saw Nancy coming and did nothing to avoid the wreck, he might be responsible.

As far as Melanie is concerned, this issue is irrelevant. A Hutchinson, MN lawyer could file a claim against either Don or Nancy. They could argue between themselves about responsibility, but one of them has to compensate Melanie for her injuries.

We are just getting started. A number of non-driving defenses, especially assumption of the risk, might apply to passenger injuries. This doctrine comes into play if the victim:

  • Voluntarily assumed
  • A known risk.

This defense often applies in dog bite and other premises liability claims. Many owners have yard signs that say things like “Beware of Dog.”

Does assumption of the risk apply to injured passengers? Maybe. Getting into a car is almost always a voluntary act. However, the risk of a car crash is usually not a known risk. It’s only a possible risk. There is a big difference.

Non-Physical Injuries

In some cases, these defenses do not apply, or at least they apply differently. Even if passengers are not physically injured, they might still be entitled to compensation. Hutchinson, MN lawyers can expand the zone of danger rule and possibly increase passenger compensation significantly.

This rule comes from the 1928 case Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad. In Palsgraf, negligent railroad workers began a chain of tragic events which ended with Ms. Palsgraf’s serious injury. The court eventually ruled that her injuries were not foreseeable, so the railroad was not legally responsible.

Normally, dissenting opinions in court cases are forgotten. Almost no one remembers who lost last year’s Super Bowl. But William Andrews’ dissent in Palsgraf is different. Judge Andrews embraced the zone of danger rule. If you were negligently injured, you deserve compensation for that injury. End of story.

Today, the expanded zone of danger rule normally applies if there was a close relationship between the victim and the passenger. So, in the above example, assume Don was physically hurt but Melanie was not. If they were closely related by blood or marriage, Melanie might still be entitled to compensation.

Connect with Tenacious Attorneys

Injured passengers might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

Ask a Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyer: How Much Money Will I Get from My Auto Accident Settlement?

In catastrophic injury wrecks, such as spinal injury, the medical bills alone could exceed $4 million over a lifetime. This figure does not include other economic losses, such as lost wages. This figure also does not include pain and suffering. Depending on the facts, noneconomic damages could be three times the economic losses.

But do not cash your check for $16 million just yet. This figure represents the worst possible wrecks, such as 18-wheeler fireball collisions. Additionally, this figure is just a starting point for settlement negotiations. Largely depending on the facts of the case, the final amount could be significantly less.

To obtain the most money from an auto accident, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers focus on the nuts and bolts. The Great Wall of China wasn’t built in a day. However, if attorneys concentrate on the details and build walls one brick at a time, good things usually happen.

Evidence Collection

This part of a personal injury case might be the most important phase. Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in injury cases. Furthermore, there is often a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages a Crow Wing County jury awards.

Moreover, this part of the process is often the most time-consuming for Brainerd, MN accident lawyers. There are many obstacles to overcome. The critical Event Data Recorder is a good example. Much like a commercial airliner’s black box flight recorder, the EDR captures and records operational information such as:

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

These devices are technically sophisticated. That’s especially true of large truck and tour bus EDRs. A Brainerd, MN accident lawyer must have more than a screwdriver and a laptop.

That’s assuming the EDR is available at all. Unless an attorney acts quickly, this availability is usually a problem. Typically, insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles a few days after the accident. If that happens, any physical evidence in the vehicle, such as the EDR, is gone forever.

So, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers send spoliation letters to insurance companies. This letter creates a legal duty to preserve all potential physical evidence, including the EDR. If insurance companies ignore spoliation letters, judges often impose harsh penalties.

There’s more. Minnesota has very strict vehicle data privacy laws. Generally, only the owner or an authorized representative, like a mechanic, can access the information. Therefore, an attorney must either secure a waiver from the owner or a court order from a judge.

Somewhat different privacy laws apply to other types of evidence, such as video surveillance footage, medical bills, and police accident reports.

We still aren’t finished. EDR information is compelling, but only if a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer knows how to present it. Fortunately, most Crow Wing County courtrooms have large video screens and other such platforms.

On a related note, EDR data is almost bulletproof in court. Eyewitnesses, no matter how well-meaning they are, can be biased or mistaken. However, assuming the gadget is working properly, computers are always impartial and always correct. Additionally, computers never break down under cross-examination from insurance company lawyers or change their stories after their depositions.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Legal Theories

Ordinary negligence is essentially a lack of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must obey the rules of the road, both the written and unwritten ones. Plus, they must drive defensively and avoid accidents whenever possible.

If drivers breach the duty of care, and that breach causes injury, they might be responsible for damages. Examples of a breach of duty include driving while fatigued and driving with a chronic medical condition which could cause a loss of consciousness.

Uber drivers, truck drivers, and other commercial operators usually have a higher duty of care in these cases. So, it is easier to establish ordinary negligence and settlement amounts are often higher.

Negligence per se is the violation of a safety law, such as speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, or making an illegal turn. This theory often applies in car wreck claims. Most drivers cannot travel more than a few blocks without breaking at least one safety law. Tortfeasors might be liable for damages as a matter of law if:

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

Sometimes, monetary settlements are not quite as high in negligence per se claims. It all depends on the facts of the case, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer’s skill level, and some other factors.

Defective products, like bad tires, also cause some car crashes. Legally, defective product claims are similar to negligence per se. Manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries their dangerous products cause.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Largely depending on the facts and law, car crash settlements could be substantial. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.

How do Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers Get the Most Money from a Car Accident?

Every year, car crashes kill or seriously injure millions of Americans. Even seemingly simple matters, like intersection or freeway collisions, are often complex. For example, the driver who got the ticket is not always the driver that is responsible for damages. Legal doctrines like contributory negligence and sudden emergency often come into play here.

Furthermore, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is often not the only party that is responsible for damages. If the tortfeasor was a commercial operator, like an Uber driver, the company might be liable for damages, even if there was no paying passenger in the car at the time. Additionally, Minnesota has a broader-than-normal dram shop law. Commercial providers, like bars and restaurants, are often vicariously liable for alcohol-related crash damages.

Because of all these complexities, the process is key for Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers. Attorneys who pay attention to details, as well as the big picture, usually get the most money from a car accident.

Collect Evidence

There is usually a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages a jury awards. Insurance companies know this, so the same rule applies in pretrial settlement negotiations. Therefore, evidence is critical for Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers.

Often, the trifecta of medical bills, the police accident report, and the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony is sufficient. But in many cases, that’s not true.

The victim/plaintiff’s testimony is a good example. Something almost mystical happens when victims take the stand and tell their own stories in their own words. But such testimony is not always available. That’s obviously the case in most wrongful death claims. Additionally, many Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers do not want to expose victims to withering cross-examinations from insurance company lawyers.

So, additional evidence is often necessary. Such evidence can come from many sources, such as a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. These gadgets are basically like the black box flight data recorders on commercial jets. Exact capacity varies by make and model, but generally, EDRs measure and record information like:

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

Numbers like these are critical in many collision claims. Additionally, unlike eyewitnesses, computers are never biased and never wrong, assuming the devices are working properly.

Apply the Proper Theory

Diligent evidence collection usually produces very good results. In fact, some Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers collect so much evidence that there is an embarrassment of riches. There is so much proof that jurors cannot sort it out.

Car crash evidence is basically like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. A Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer must put the pieces together and form a picture for the jury. In extremely complex cases, such as truck wrecks, many attorneys partner with accident reconstructionists during this phase.

The proper legal theory is a bit like the picture on a jigsaw puzzle box. The theory guides the assembly process. Some common theories in car crash cases include:

  • Ordinary Negligence: Basically, negligence is a lack of care. Drowsy driving and distracted driving are both good examples of negligence. If the tortfeasor’s conduct fell below the standard of care, the tortfeasor is liable for damages.
  • Negligence Per Se: In many cases, Minnesota law establishes the standard of care. Tortfeasors who violate a safety law, even something like speeding or making an unsafe lane change, might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
  • Defective Product: These claims do not involve negligence at all. Manufacturers are strictly liable if their defective products, such as tires, airbags, or ignition switches, cause injury. Substantial damages are often available in these situations. Frequently, manufacturers intentionally put people at risk to increase their own profits.

Damages in a car crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.

Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and Diligent Advocacy

Collecting evidence collection and applying theory is like doing homework. If students do their homework, they usually do well on their tests. However, they still need to concentrate on the tests and bring all their skills to bear if they want good grades. Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers must do the same thing.

In this context, the test usually comes at the negotiating table. Almost all personal injury claims settle out of court. So, an attorney must be a good negotiator. That means having a thorough knowledge of your own case, your client’s needs and preferences, and any insurance company defenses. Keeping these three things in mind ensures that an attorney negotiates from a position of strength.

A few cases go all the way to trial, where a Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Getting the most money from a car accident is usually a matter of planning your work and working your plan. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Much Money can a Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Win in an Ice Fall Claim?

The average ice slip-and-fall settlement amount is like the average new home value. There is so much difference between a starter home and a mansion that the “average cost” does not mean much. Likewise, ice slip-and-fall cases are so different that the average settlement amount does not accurately predict a particular case’s settlement value.

Statistically, the average ice slip-and-fall settlement is roughly $82,000. That amount varies significantly, based in part on the injury location. Settlements after falls at government facilities, like schools, are almost three times as high as grocery store and other retail falls. Other variables include the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the strength of any defenses.

The bottom line is that a Hutchinson, MN lawyer might be able to obtain substantial compensation in these situations. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Legal Responsibility

In general, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. So, the greater the legal duty the owner owed to the victim/plaintiff, the higher the settlement amount a Hutchinson, MN lawyer can obtain. To determine duty, the Gopher State uses a classification system based on common law principles:

  • Invitee: If the owner invited the victim onto the property, either directly or indirectly, and the owner benefitted from the victim’s presence, either economically or noneconomically, the victim was an invitee. That means the owner had a duty of reasonable care. Most ice slip-and-fall victims are invitees. They could be shoppers or social guests.
  • Licensee: These individuals have permission to be on the land, but they do not benefit the owner. Children who cut across parking lots on their way home from school are usually licensees. Since the relationship is more distant, the duty is less. Typically, owners must only warn licensees about latent (hidden) defects, such as the potential for black ice.
  • Trespassers: This pejorative term refers to persons who have no permission and confer no benefit. Owners generally have no duty in these situations. Those stories about injured burglars who sue homeowners are largely urban legends.

Some exceptions to the trespasser category protect child victims, like the frequent trespasser rule and the attractive nuisance rule.

How Do Hutchinson, MN Lawyers Establish Knowledge?

The law is a bit unclear as to the extent of knowledge required. Some courts require only a general knowledge about ice and snow on the ground. Other courts require Hutchinson, MN lawyers to establish that the owner had specific knowledge about a specific ice patch. Evidence on this point could be one of the following:

  • Direct: Typically, certain areas of a walkway or parking lot are prone to ice development. Perhaps they are in shadow most of the day or perhaps a slight depression allows water to collect. Typically, other people have slipped before, and even if they were not injured, they may have reported the incident. That’s an example of direct knowledge.
  • Circumstantial: This evidence usually involves the time/notice rule. Owners do not have a duty to cordon off certain areas or take other precautions immediately after snow and ice stops falling. But the longer they delay taking such action, the easier it becomes for a Hutchinson, MN lawyer to establish constructive knowledge (should have known).

As mentioned, there is normally a direct relationship between the amount of knowledge and the amount of damages. Jurors do not like it when companies ignore problems and thereby put other people at risk.

Some Ice Slip-and-Fall Defenses

Prior to filing a legal claim, or even sending a demand letter, it’s important for a Hutchinson, MN lawyer to know who or what controlled the property.

Retail parking lot falls are a good example. Typically, a store, whether it is big or small, is responsible for maintaining the four or five spaces nearest its door. The landlord is responsible for the remainder of the parking lot. If a Hutchinson, MN lawyer pursues a claim against the wrong defendant, it’s usually possible to start over, but the delay is costly.

Contributory negligence is another possible defense. When the ground is icy, most people know that they should walk carefully. Indeed, many McLeod County jurors are quick to place most of the blame on the victim. The situation is different if the fall involved black ice or another hidden hazard.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent threshold. Even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the fall, the owner is liable for a proportionate share of damages.

Connect with a Diligent Attorney

Successful ice slip and fall settlements are built one step at a time. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several area offices to serve you.

How Does a Lawyer in Buffalo, MN Obtain a Workers’ Comp Slip and Fall Settlement?

Nationwide, slip and fall injuries are the leading cause of workers’ compensation benefits claims. Most of these incidents occur in office settings, a fact which surprises many people. Common causes include open desk drawers, floor debris, improper lighting, and slightly uneven floors.

These injuries are especially severe for workers over 55 and for those with pre-existing conditions. Many older people suffer from Gae-related Macular Degeneration. This condition gradually blurs straight-ahead vision. AMD is especially severe in low-light conditions. Additionally, pre-existing conditions, like a bad knee, transform embarrassing slip and falls into serious injuries.

Even if you have such a pre-existing medical condition, a lawyer in Buffalo, MN might be able to obtain substantial benefits in these cases. Frequently, these claims settle quickly and on victim-friendly terms. Many other times, however, a lawyer in Buffalo, MN must help victims navigate the often-frustrating workers’ compensation system in Minnesota.

Available Benefits

A little over a hundred years ago, the first state-sponsored workers’ compensation systems appeared in the United States. Back then, there were few workplace safety or labor laws. So, many factories were dangerous places. As a result, a stunning number of liability lawsuits clogged the court system.

Therefore, labor and management reached a compromise known as the Grand Bargain. Workers gave up their right to sue in court for their work-related injuries. In return, management agreed to fund a no-fault insurance system. Workers need not establish negligence or anything else to obtain compensation for:

  • Lost Wages: Typically, Minnesota workers’ comp insurance pays two-thirds of a victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of a temporary disability. If the victim is able to work but must accept a lower-paying light duty assignment, workers’ comp pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new salaries. Permanent disability claims, such as loss of motion in a shoulder, usually involve a lump sum payment.
  • Medical Expenses: A serious fall injury could mean tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Workers’ comp pays these costs, along with other reasonable medical expenses, such as physical therapy costs. Generally, the insurance company pays these expenses directly.

Some employer fraud schemes offer injured workers tempting shortcuts in these situations. For example, Joe’s employer might offer to pay his medical costs and take care of a few of his monthly bills if he does not file a workers’ comp claim.

Given the procedural complexities outlined below, Joe could be tempted to take this offer. However, if the employer later reneges, which will probably happen, Joe’s workers’ compensation claim deadline will have passed, and he will have no options. Additionally, Joe’s employer illegally pays lower insurance premiums. So, there is less money in the system for other injured victims.

What to Expect

In the early days, workers’ comp was a victim-friendly system which expidited the aforementioned benefits to the people who needed them. Over the years, the system has become a bloated bureaucracy which features many insurance company pawns. Making matters worse, financial payouts have declined 20 percent since 2013.

Generally, a Claims Examiner reviews each case within a few weeks. These people nearly always deny workers’ compensation claims, at least in part. Typically, they hope that victims do not partner with a lawyer in Buffalo, MN and abandon their claims.

So, if your workers’ comp claim is denied, that denial usually has nothing to do with the merits of your case. It’s just an economic thing.

After such denials, a lawyer in Buffalo, MN can demand an appeal hearing. Unfortunately, because of the bureaucracy’s size, the average wait for a hearing could be up to fifteen months. At the trial-like administrative law hearing, a lawyer in Buffalo, MN can make legal arguments, introduce evidence, and challenge the insurance company’s evidence. So, victims have a much better chance to obtain the benefits they deserve.

Lawyers in Buffalo, MN and Workers’ Comp Settlements

Out-of-court settlements resolve almost all of these claims, and these resolutions could occur at any time. Typically, the closer the administrative law hearing draws, the more likely a settlement becomes.

It’s very important that a lawyer in Buffalo, MN not settle the claim too early. Workers’ comp settlements usually include waivers. So, if the victim needs more money for additional medical costs, it’s very difficult to reopen a closed case.

As mentioned, the settlement usually includes money for lost wages. The strength of the medical evidence often influences the amount of the settlement.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Most workers’ comp claims settle out of court. For a free consultation with an experienced lawyer in Buffalo, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Can Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers Obtain Fair Compensation for Tour Bus Crash Injuries?

Absolutely yes. In fact, most of these cases settle out of court. However, the road to fair compensation is often long, because charter bus crashes are factually and legally complex.

Overall, the number of fatal truck accidents has increased 42 percent since 2009. When fully loaded, these massive vehicles carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. So, by the time emergency responders reach the scene, there may be little left other than wreckage.

So, as outlined below, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must have a special skill set to obtain fair compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

What Causes Tour Bus Crashes?

Fatigued driving and distracted driving are two of the main causes of car crashes in general, and of charter bus crashes in particular.

Many tour bus operators are behind the wheel late at night and/or early in the morning. Most people are naturally fatigued at these times. It does not matter how much rest they had the night before. Circadian rhythm fatigue is especially bad if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) recently changed work schedules.

Furthermore, many tour bus drivers are not just bus drivers. They are also tour guides, security guards, and janitors. They must host the group, break up verbal fights, and clean up spills. That’s a dangerous amount of multitasking.

It is easier for Brainerd, MN injury lawyers to establish negligence in these cases. Charter bus drivers are common carriers in Minnesota. These individuals have a higher duty of care. Since they carry passengers and cargo for hire, common carriers are virtually insurers of safe conduct. This duty includes not only enhanced driving responsibility but also the responsibility to watch the passengers.

Legal Issues for Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers

Negligence is not the only advanced legal issue in tour bus crash claims. Venue is often an issue as well. Generally, the victim was from County A and the wreck occurred in County B. If that’s the case, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer may file a claim in County A or County B.

The venue choice sometimes affects the case’s settlement value. Some jurisdictions have more victim-friendly jurors than other jurisdictions. As a rule, urban jurisdictions, like Hennepin County, have more liberal jurors than rural jurisdictions, like Crow Wing County. But once again, that’s just a rule of thumb. More on a case’s settlement value below.

The respondeat superior rule is usually an issue as well. Legally, the company which owned the bus is usually responsible for negligence damages. The respondeat superior doctrine applies if:

  • The tortfeasor was an employee
  • Who was working in the scope of employment at the time.

Minnesota law defines both these prongs in broad, victim-friendly ways. For example, even if the driver was another company’s employee or an unpaid church volunteer, that driver was probably an employee for negligence purposes.

Vicarious liability theories like this one are very important in catastrophic injury claims. Generally, individual tortfeasors do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.

Resolving the Case

One medical treatment is at least substantially complete, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer can assign a preliminary settlement value to the case. This value usually starts with all economic losses, which are primarily medical bills. To ascertain noneconomic losses, most Brainerd, MN injury lawyers multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case. Other factors, such as venue, might come into play here as well.

Next, attorneys send demand letters to insurance companies. If there is no question as to liability, insurance companies have a duty to settle the claim within a few weeks. However, there is almost always at least some question about liability, mostly because of some legal defenses which may apply. So, most injury claims proceed to the next level.

The next level involves filing court documents to protect the victim’s interests. At that point, most Crow Wing County judges refer these matters to mediation. During mediation, each side has a duty to negotiate a settlement in good faith. They must negotiate with open minds and be willing to make sacrifices to strike a deal. Because of this duty, mediation is usually successful.

If the case remains unresolved, it goes to trial. That trial could be before just a judge or before a jury.

Count on Tenacious Attorneys

Tour bus crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.

Ask a Hutchinson, MN Auto Accident Lawyer: How Much Money Do You Get from a Car Accident Settlement?

Many car crashes cause extremely serious injuries. The medical bills alone in a severe injury case, such as a head injury, regularly exceed $100,000.

Despite what television commercials imply, insurance company representatives do not have a victim’s best interests in mind. Instead, the insurance company is primarily concerned with its own profits. That means collecting as many premiums as possible and paying as little compensation as possible.

A Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer, on the other hand, is committed to maximum compensation for victims. Generally, the settlement includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. The actual amount of a settlement varies significantly, usually depending on the factors listed below.

Legal Theory

In general, the legal basis of a car wreck case is a lack of ordinary care. This point is rather straightforward. However, the standard of care, as well as the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) neglect, or lack thereof, is very subjective. Some common theories in car crash cases include:

  • Duty of Care: This idea is based on the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) which Minnesota schoolchildren once memorized. In this context, this duty includes things like driving while sober and well-rested, as well as driving defensively.
  • Contributory Negligence: Many car crashes do not have singular causes. For example, the victim might have been speeding when the tortfeasor (negligent driver) made an illegal turn. In these situations, McLeod County jurors must divide fault between the two parties on a percentage basis.
  • Negligence Per Se: Sometimes, Minnesota law sets the standard of care. Examples include things like driving on the right side of the road and traveling under the speed limit. So, if tortfeasors violate such laws, they might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.

Vicarious liability often comes into play as well. Minnesota’s dram shop law is a good illustration. If commercial providers, like bars or grocery stores, sell alcohol illegally and that patron causes a car crash, the provider might be financially responsible for damages. Examples of an illegal sale include sales to underage patrons, after-hours transactions, and sales to obviously intoxicated persons.

Hutchinson, MN Auto Accident Lawyers and Evidence in Car Wreck Claims

The victim/plaintiff must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Since this rule is the lowest standard of proof in Minnesota, a little evidence goes a long way. However, there is often a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer presents and the amount of damages a McLeod County jury awards.

The Iron Triangle of medical bills, the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony, and the police accident report are often the only evidence in a car crash claim. But that’s not always true. For example, if the victim was killed, the victim/plaintiff’s testimony is obviously unavailable. Furthermore, since it contains only one side of the story, the police accident report might be incomplete and inaccurate.

Therefore, evidence might be a problem. Many times, a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder is the solution. Capability varies by make and model, but most of these gadgets measure and record things like:

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

Items like these could be crucial to a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer. As a bonus, if the gadget was working properly, it’s almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to successfully challenge this evidence. Unlike eyewitnesses, computers are never biased and never mistaken.

To effectively use EDR evidence, a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer must overcome some obstacles. For example, Minnesota has very strict vehicle data privacy laws. Therefore, attorneys usually must obtain court orders before they can access and download EDR information.

Resolving the Case

The amount of a settlement, as well as the timing of a settlement, also depends on a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer’s ability to resolve the case. There are several qualities to look for in an attorney, such as:

  • Experience: Like other professionals, attorneys learn many things not from law school, but from the school of hard knocks. There is a close relationship between years of experience and overall ability. Your injury claim is much too important to trust to someone who requires on-the-job training.
  • Track Record: Experience only tells part of the story. Many Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyers spend years in the business and only try a handful of cases. Insurance companies are only scared of attorneys with substantial trial experience and successful track records.
  • Bedside Manner: Some lawyers are not bilingual. They speak Legalese fluently, but are not very proficient in English. Your Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer should relate complex legal problems in simple terms, so you can make the best possible decisions.

The bottom line is that if the legal theory is sound, the evidence is compelling, and the Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer is well qualified, the settlement should be on the best terms available under the circumstances.

Contact an Assertive Attorney

Car crash victims need and deserve substantial compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Do Hutchinson, MN Lawyers Handle Car Crash Defenses?

Every year, vehicle collisions injure about three million Americans. A few of these accidents are “fender benders” which do not cause serious injury. Minnesota’s no-fault insurance law applies to such incidents. As a rule of thumb, if your car was drivable after the collision, you probably did not sustain a serious injury under the law.

In most cases, however, the victim sustains a “serious” injury. That means a Hutchinson, MN lawyer may be able to obtain substantial compensation. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

While Hutchinson, MN lawyers are committed to maximum compensation for victims, insurance company lawyers do whatever they can to minimize compensation for victims. Frequently, these efforts involve one of the legal defenses discussed below.

Contributory Negligence

Comparative fault is probably the most common car crash defense, mostly because serious injury accidents rarely have only one cause. In a nutshell, contributory negligence shifts blame for the wreck from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. The possibilities are almost endless. Perhaps the victim was speeding and the tortfeasor made an illegal lane change, or perhaps the victim was using a cell phone and the tortfeasor was drunk.

Specific laws vary by state. Minnesota, like most other jurisdictions, is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent threshold. So, if the victim is no more than 49 percent responsible for the crash, a Hutchinson, MN lawyer can still win a proportionate share of damages. Nearby Missouri, however, is a pure comparative fault state. Theoretically, a victim could be 99 percent responsible for the crash, and the tortfeasor would still be liable for a proportionate share of damages.

Hutchinson, MN lawyers have essentially two chances to blunt the contributory negligence defense. First, the insurance company must convince the judge that the victim’s negligence contributed to the crash. If the victim was only traveling three or four mph over the limit, that excessive speed probably did not contribute to the crash in any meaningful way.

Second, the insurance company must convince jurors of the same thing. At this point, the percentage division comes into play. Based on the evidence, the jury must divide fault for the crash 50-50, 60-40, or whatever. The lower the victim’s share of fault, the more compensation the victim receives.

Lack of Evidence

At the other end of the frequency spectrum, this defense is quite rare. The burden of proof in civil court is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of proof in Minnesota law.

So, as long as a Hutchinson, MN lawyer is prepared, there should be sufficient evidence on all points. Authentication is sometimes an issue. For example, if a victim’s evidence includes medical bills, these statements must include affidavits and other authenticating evidence. If this evidence is not present or in the wrong form, a McLeod County judge might exclude it.

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and the Sudden Emergency Defense

The first two defenses are generally available in most vehicle collision cases. These last two defenses, however, are niche defenses which are only available in certain situations.

Insurance company lawyers often roll out the sudden emergency defense in pedestrian accident claims. Court documents in these cases often say something like since the victim “darted out into traffic” the tortfeasor could not avoid the wreck. This line of thought sets up the sudden emergency defense, which has two elements:

  • Reasonable reaction to
  • A sudden emergency.

This clip from 1995’s Tommy Boy illustrates both elements of the sudden emergency defense. The hood fly-up is a sudden emergency, because it is a completely unexpected development. The same thing goes for a lightning strike. But jaywalking pedestrians are more like stalled cars or large potholes. Drivers should anticipate these everyday hazards, so they are not “sudden emergencies” in this context.

Although he faced a sudden emergency, Tommy would not be able to use the defense in court. He did not react reasonably, by pulling over to the right. Instead, he drove recklessly and even crossed the centerline. But hey, that’s why they call it a comedy.

Last Clear Chance

Hutchinson, MN lawyers often deal with this defense in head-on and rear-end wrecks. To examine this defense, let’s stay with the Tommy Boy clip. Assume Tommy collided with that semi-truck after he crossed the centerline. If first responders arrived, they would almost certainly give Tommy a ticket.

But Tommy might not be legally responsible for damages, because of the last clear chance defense. If the truck driver had a reasonable chance to avoid the crash, perhaps by changing lanes, the truck driver might be legally responsible. Basically, even though Tommy drove recklessly, the truck driver still had a duty of care. S/he could not simply sit back, let the wreck happen, and blame Tommy.

The lesson here is that, even if first responders said you were at fault, always have a Hutchinson, MN lawyer evaluate your case. You may still be entitled to the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

If an attorney is not ready to handle car crash defenses, a promising claim could end in disappointment. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.

How Do Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers Handle Dog Bite Defenses?

Nationwide, dogs bite over four million people per year. Mostly due to the nature of the victims, many of these bites cause incredibly serious injuries, as outlined below.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Minnesota has one of the most victim-friendly dog bite laws in the country. Animal owners are strictly liable for all attack-related damages. Carelessness or knowledge of viciousness, which are key items in some states, are largely irrelevant in Minnesota. Furthermore, there is only one fully-recognized defense. Another defense may be available in some cases. So, there are few obstacles to fair compensation.

Because of these laws, Buffalo, MN injury lawyers are often able to obtain substantial damages in these cases. However, the insurance company does not simply give this money away. Although limited defenses are available, insurance company lawyers often urge these defenses very forcefully in court.

What is at Stake: Dog Bite Injuries

Physical dog bite injuries are usually the most visible, and most costly, wounds that victims suffer in animal attack incidents.

The hurt starts with the knockdown. Frequently, a large breed animal, like a pit bull, lunges at a vulnerable victim, like a small child. These knockdowns often cause broken bones and head injuries.

Often, bones are crushed and opposed to just broken in these situations. To set them, doctors usually need to use metal pins, plates, or screws. That’s especially true if the bone is still developing. Later, these victims often require long-term physical therapy to regain lost function.

Broken bones usually heal, after time and treatment. Head injuries, on the other hand, never heal. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate. Physical therapy alleviates the symptoms but does not reverse the injury.

Frequently, there is little or no visible head trauma. The skull is basically a water tank which suspends the brain in a pool of cerebrospinal fluid. Violent motion, like a knockdown, causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull. It’s like shaking an egg and scrambling the yoke without cracking the shell.

Next to the knockdown, the bite is usually the worse injury. A dog’s teeth usually cause both deep puncture wounds and severe tearing lacerations. The puncture wounds cause severe internal bleeding, and the lacerations usually require extensive treatment at speciality trauma centers.

Finally, many victims, especially child victims, suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms. These symptoms include heightened awareness (an unnatural fear of all dogs), flashbacks, and trouble sleeping.

Buffalo, MN Injury Lawyers and the Provocation Defense

Provocation is the only defense specifically mentioned in Minn. Statutes Annotated, Section 347.22. Insurance company lawyers roll out the provocation defense in almost all dog bite claims. They hope the defense will eliminate liability or at least reduce the amount of damages the victim receives.

However, in this context, provocation has a very specific meaning. Buffalo, MN injury lawyers frequently use this specific meaning to torpedo the provocation defense:

  • Intentional: Children sometimes accidentally provoke their siblings, or at least they claim it was an accident. But victims never unintentionally provoke dogs. Sudden movements and other acts are not legally provocative. Instead, the victim must try to draw a certain reaction from the animal, or at least purposefully test the animal’s limits.
  • Physical: Because of the intentionality requirement, verbal teasing, even very aggressive verbal teasing, may be insufficient. Instead, the victim must normally inflict so much pain on the animal that a violent response is justified. In this area, “provocation” is almost synonymous with “torture.”
  • Age-Related: Babies and very young children cannot provoke animals as a matter of law. It does not matter if the provocative acts were intentional and physical.

The insurance company has the burden of proof on this point. So, if a Buffalo, MN injury lawyer substantially undermines the insurance company’s evidence, that’s probably enough to defeat the provocation defense. The victim need not “prove” anything in this specific context.

Failure to Conduct Themselves Peacefully

This vague conduct is also a defense in Wright County dog bite claims. The statute does not define this phrase at all, and the supporting case law is a bit contradictory. However, in some cases, failure to conduct oneself peacefully could include ignoring a “Beware of Dog” or other sign.

A warning sign is not a get out of jail free card. However, such signage makes the assumption of the risk defense easier to establish. This doctrine excuses liability if the victim:

  • Voluntarily assumed
  • A known risk.

The insurance company must do more than prove a sign was there. The insurance company must also prove that the victim could see the sign, read the sign, and understand what it meant. These points are difficult to prove if, as is often the case, the sign was small and did not have an American National Standards Institute-approved graphic picture design.

Connect with Aggressive Attorneys

Insurance company lawyers usually fight dog bite claims tooth and nail. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence matters.

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