Most of the car crashes in Minnesota are not accidents. The a-word implies that the event was unavoidable and personal responsibility was irrelevant. But as one advocacy group observed, “Planes don’t have accidents. They crash. Cranes don’t have accidents. They collapse. And as a society, we expect answers and solutions.” Furthermore, as Transportation Alternatives pointed out, drunk drivers used to say that “It was an accident” when they hit and killed people.
A few cases that Brainerd Lawyers handle are truly “accidents” in the sense that no one was at fault. Perhaps a lightning bolt struck a car, or a gust of wind blew a vehicle off an overpass. But such incidents are few and far between. Personal negligence causes the vast majority of car crashes. Once the jury understands that, these individuals are much more likely to award maximum compensation.
Step One: Brainerd Lawyers Establish Fault
If the victim suffered a serious injury, that compensation usually includes money for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. There are basically three types of negligence in Minnesota car crash cases:
- Behavioral: Drunk driving and drowsy driving are two good examples of behavioral negligence. Sometimes, the “accident” occurs before the tortfeasor (negligent driver) even starts the car. Many tortfeasors know that they are too impaired or sleepy to drive, but they get behind the wheel anyway. As a side not, alcohol and fatigue affect the brain in roughly the same way. Driving after eighteen hours without sleep is like driving with a .08 BAC.
- Operational: These cases involve violations of the “rules of the road,” such as making an illegal lane change. Even if the act in question was just a one-off aberration, liability may still attach because of the negligence per se doctrine.
- Environmental: This area is the most subjective of the three. Examples include failure to use lights in a heavy fog or driving a little too fast for the rain. These things are technically not illegal, but they are highly dangerous.
All these theories can support either negligence or negligence per se. Negligence is a lack of ordinary care. Negligence per se is the violation of a safety law, such as DUI.
Step Two: Gather Evidence of Liability
Since the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof, a good legal theory is only part of the puzzle. There is a difference between fault for the crash and liability for damages. Fault is more of a moral concept; liability is definitely a legal concept. To help the jury bridge the gap, available evidence includes things like:
- Video Evidence: Most Crow Wing County courtrooms have advanced video playback capabilities. So, jurors can see any footage on a big screen TV. One of the few drawbacks of such displays is that one old lawyer trick (having the jury look at pictures during the other side’s questioning) is no longer available. C’est la vie.
- Event Data Recorder: The EDR is basically an on-board computer that measures and records vehicle speed, steering angle, and other such information. These devices are technically complex, especially in truck crash cases. But at Carlson & Jones, we have the resources necessary to make the most of these gadgets.
- Eyewitness Testimony: We also know how to maximize this evidence. There are a number of ways to attack the credibility of witnesses without them even being aware of what is going on.
Much of this evidence comes to light during the discovery phase. The EDR is a major exception. If Brainerd lawyers do not act within the first few days after a crash, this crucial evidence may be lost.
Step Three: Deflect Defenses
Brainerd lawyers are committed to maximum compensation for victims. Insurance company lawyers have the exact opposite mission. They do their best to reduce or deny compensation to victims, regardless of what is “fair.”
In car crash cases, some form of comparative fault is the most common defense. The insurance company tires to shift the fault for the crash onto the victim, and in so doing, reduce the tortfeasor’s liability. Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, if the tortfeasor is at least 51 percent at fault, the victim/plaintiff receives a proportional amount of compensation.
Accentuating the positive is a good way to defeat comparative fault. Brainerd Lawyers stress all the things that the victim did right.
CALL TODAY TO SPEAK WITH A BRAINERD LAWYER AT CARLSON & JONES
An aggressive attorney is your best bet for maximum compensation in a car crash case. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd Lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.