The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Who Pays Medical Bills In A Buffalo Minnesota Car Accident Case?
July 28, 2018
In a serious car accident case in Buffalo, emergency care alone often exceeds $100,000. Followup care, such as subsequent correction surgeries, adds even more to the cost. Finally, many serious injuries require extensive (and expensive) physical therapy.
Health insurance companies rarely, if ever, pay for such costs. They usually deny coverage, citing liability questions. That outcome leaves Wright County victims with enormous bills to pay and no way to pay them. Insurance companies know about this pressure, so they lean on victims to settle these cases very early before the victims even know how much their case is worth.
In times like these, you need a Minnesota Personal Injury Attorneyto provide real solutions to problems like these. You also need your lawyer to fight for the compensation you deserve, because no one else will assume that responsibility.
First Party Liability in a Buffalo Minnesota Car Accident Case
The first thing to understand about car crash liability is that these incidents are usually unintentional. But they are almost never “accidental.” Drunk drivers used to use the “It was an accident” line when they caused fatal wrecks. Still, responsibility varies by degrees. As an example, let’s look at Miguel, Pablo, and distracted driving laws in Minnesota.
Each year, distracted drivers seriously injure more than 350,000 people in car accidents. But what exactly is “distracted driving”? According to experts, it could be:
Cognitive (taking one’s mind off driving),
Physical (taking one’s hand off the wheel), or
Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road).
Assume Miguel was having an animated conversation with his teenage son, who was in the back seat. As a result, he did not see the car in front of him stop short, and he rear-ends that vehicle. Miguel was clearly at fault for the wreck. Moreover, he was distracted both cognitively and visually. But most Wright County jurors would not consider talking to a passenger to be negligent.
Assume Pablo used a voice-to-text converter to text as he drove. The phone record shows that he sent and received several texts in the minutes before the crash. Even though he kept both hands on the wheel, he was distracted in the same way as Miguel. However, most jurors would say that Pablo wasn’t just careless. He was negligent.
Negligence is basically a lack of ordinary care. If such a lapse causes damages, that party must usually provide financial compensation for these damages.
There’s a little more to this question. Like many other states, Minnesota courts recognize the negligence per se shortcut. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) is liable for damages as a matter of law if that driver:
Violates a safety law, and
That violation substantially causes damages.
In negligence per se cases, it does not matter how careful or careless the person was. So, if Miguel received a citation for unsafe driving, which is probably the case, he may be legally responsible for damages. The same thing applies to Pablo. Under Minnesota law, it’s illegal to text and drive. Therefore, even if Pablo still had one eye on the road while he was texting, he’s still liable for damages.
Third Party Liability
Sometimes, the tortfeasor is not the only person who is legally responsible for damages. Assume that Miguel was an Uber driver or Pablo was a truck driver. If so, their employers might be responsible for the victim’s damages, according to the respondeat superior (let the master answer) rule. This doctrine applies if the tortfeasor was an employee who was acting within the scope of employment at the time of the Buffalo car crash.
Minnesota courts define both these elements in broad, victim-friendly terms. An “employee” is usually anyone that the employer controls, including independent contractors or even unpaid volunteers. Moreover, even if the tortfeasor is driving an empty vehicle to the garage, such an act still falls within the scope of employment.
Vicarious liability theories are especially important in cases that involve catastrophic injuries, like head injuries, severe burns, or wrongful death. Minnesota has one of the lowest insurance minimum requirements in the country. Therefore, many tortfeasors do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.
In a serious injury Buffalo Minnesota Car Accident, fair compensation usually includes money for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available in some cases as well.
CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A BUFFALO MINNESOTA CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES
Substantial compensation may be available to Wright County car crash victims. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo Minnesota Car Accident Lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. An attorney can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.
215 East Highway 55
Buffalo, MN 55313
Toll Free: 877-344-1555