Nationwide, most car crash fatalities occur in single-vehicle collisions. But the opposite is true in Minnesota. The Gopher State has the highest proportion of multi-vehicle collision deaths in the country. Not all these cases involve negligence or negligence per se. But, the vast majority do involve either a lack of ordinary care or a statutory violation.
If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, an experienced attorney is invaluable. Only Buffalo, MN car accident attorneys can accurately evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim for damages. As the case moves forward, the insurance company has a posse of lawyers protecting its interests. You need similar representation in your corner.
If the victim sustained a serious injury, damages in a car crash case include money for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Minnesota law defines a “serious injury” as one that triggers more than $4,000 in doctor bills.
Seeing a Doctor
The most important part of a personal injury case is not the compensation or justice that a settlement brings. Instead, your health is the top priority.
Many car crash injuries are difficult to diagnose and treat. Whiplash is a good example. In a typical car accident, the victim’s head violently snaps forward and then violently snaps back. It’s just like the cracking of a whip. As a result, the victim sustains a serious head and neck injury. But whiplash normally does not show up on X-rays, MRIs, and other common diagnostic tests.
There are other issues as well. Most health insurance companies do not pay for car crash injuries, due to liability questions. So, even seeing the doctor in the first place may be a problem.
Buffalo, MN car accident attorneys offer solutions here. Most attorneys have relationships with injury physicians. These doctors know how to diagnose and treat soft tissue injuries, like whiplash. Moreover, thanks to the letter of protection, this treatment costs no money upfront. The medical provider agrees to defer billing until the claim is resolved.
Prompt medical treatment also increases the case’s value. If the victim waits even a few days to see a doctor, the insurance company may later claim that the victim’s injuries must not have been very bad.
Buffalo, MN Car Accident Attorneys and Claim Evaluation
Ascertaining what the case is worth is perhaps the most critical step in the process. Evaluating a claim is partly science and partly art.
The aforementioned economic losses are usually fairly easy to calculate. Typically, Minnesota law limits recovery to dollar value only. For example, if the family pet dies in the accident, the family is usually only entitled to the pet’s economic value, regardless of the emotional bond. But that’s not true in other cases. A family car may have a value that far exceeds its Blue Book value.
In terms of medical bills, the victim receives compensation based on the value of the services and not the amount actually paid. Assume Vincent Victim has a $10,000 medical bill and his team of Buffalo, MN car accident attorneys reduces the bill to $6,000. If the insurance company pays $10,000, Vincent keeps the other $4,000.
Pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life are a bit more complex. To calculate these noneconomic losses, most Buffalo, MN car accident attorneys use a multiplier based on factors like:
- Severity of the accident,
- Strength of the victim/plaintiff’s evidence,
- Any insurance company defenses, and
- Attitudes (pro-victim or pro-insurance company) of potential jurors.
The multiplier is based on the economic losses. Typically, the calculation starts at three times the economic damages and then moves up or down.
Finalizing the Matter
Around 95 percent of personal injury cases settle out of court. Some do not even make it to court, as a large number of these cases settle quickly.
Once Buffalo, MN car accident attorneys evaluate the case, they usually send demand letters to the insurance company. If there is no reasonable dispute as to liability, insurance companies have a duty to settle the claim straightaway. Sometimes, like in drunk driving cases, liability is quite clear. But typically, the case moves forward to the next phase.
The settlement negotiations which begin with the damnd letter do not end just because an attorney files court papers. These negotiations continue. Many settlements occur due to this back-and-forth exchange of settlement offers. As discovery proceeds and each side learns more about the other side’s claims and defenses, the likelihood of settlement increases.
A professional mediator is a great help here. Indeed, most Wright County judges refer contested personal injury cases to mediation. The mediator works to bring the parties together on the issues. In most cases, mediation is at least partially successful. The parties either completely resolve the claim or at least narrow the issues for trial.
Negligence trials are extremely rare, but they do happen. The trial may be before a judge or a jury. At trial, the victim/plaintiff must prove negligence or negligence per se by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Contact an Aggressive Lawyer
Injury cases usually settle out of court and on victim-friendly terms. For a free consultation with experienced Buffalo, MN car accident lawyers, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.