Each year, car crashes kill or seriously injure over two million Americans. These victims deserve both justice and compensation. A solid negligence case accomplishes both these objectives.
When many people think of justice, they think about the criminal courts. But most of these cases do not go to a Wright County criminal court. The burden of proof is high, so unless there is a mountain of evidence against the defendant, these cases are difficult to win. Furthermore, many law enforcement agencies assume the parties will file a civil action, so they only conduct cursory investigations.
Fortunately, car accident lawyers in Buffalo, MN can take up the slack. The burden of proof is much lower in civil court. The victim’s testimony, all by itself, may be sufficient to establish liability. If any other evidence backs up the victim’s story, so much the better. Furthermore, a private attorney works for you and not the county. So, your Buffalo, MN car accident lawyer is a true fighter.
A public pronouncement that the other driver was at fault is only part of the equation. Car crash victims are also entitled to substantial compensation. Available damages include money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The Theory of The Case
Most car crashes in Minnesota are not “accidents.” That word implies that the collision was inevitable and no one could stop it. Instead, human error causes over 90 percent of vehicle collisions. Typically, that error involves one of the following:
- Negligence: Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. That legal responsibility means they are physically fit to drive (i.e. not fatigued or intoxicated), obey the rules of the road, and drive defensively. If drivers fall short of this standard (breach that duty) and the violation causes injury, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) may be liable for damages.
- Negligence Per Se: In some other cases, Minnesota law establishes the duty of care. For example, it’s illegal to turn without signaling or run a red light. If the tortfeasor violates these or other safety laws, and that violation substantially causes injury, the tortfeasor may be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
For the most part, the other 10 percent of car crashes are not accidental either. Defective products cause many car crash injuries. Tire blow-outs, exploding airbags, and ignition switch cutoff are just a few examples. Manufacturers are strictly liable for damages in these situations. Negligence, or lack of negligence, is irrelevant. In defective product claims, victim/plaintiffs need only establish cause.
Lightning strikes, wind gusts, earthquakes, and other truly “accidental” things only cause a tiny portion of the car accidents that Buffalo, MN lawyers handle.
How Do Buffalo, MN Car Accident Lawyers Collect Evidence?
As indicated earlier, victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in all civil claims. That burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Picture two equally-sized stacks of paper. If a person adds one sheet to the stack on the left, it has more paper than the stack on the right. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.
The more evidence in the case, the stronger the victim/plaintiff’s negligence, negligence per se, or strict liability claim will be. This additional evidence could come from:
- Witness Statements: Buffalo, MN car accident lawyers must work quickly to preserve this evidence. Memories fade almost to nothing almost literally overnight. So, an attorney must get a statement straightaway. These written statements are usually admissible later to refresh the witness’ recollection.
- Event Data Recorder: Most passenger cars have EDRs. These gadgets usually capture and record vehicle speed, engine RPM, and other metrics that are important in car crash cases. Again, Buffalo, MN car accident lawyers must act within a few days to preserve this evidence. Otherwise, the insurance company may “accidentally” destroy it.
To obtain such evidence, an attorney often partners with a private investigator.
Anticipating Insurance Company Defenses
Building a case is not enough. The insurance company usually has a small army of investigators and lawyers working to reduce or deny compensation to the victim. There are a number of available legal loopholes that these companies can use, including:
- Contributory Negligence: This is perhaps the most common insurance company defense. This legal doctrine shifts blame for the crash to the victim. For example, the insurance company might argue that the victim’s illegal turn, as opposed to the tortfeasor’s intoxication, substantially caused the wreck.
- Sudden Emergency: Insurance companies usually try to use this defense in pedestrian injury cases. They often argue that the victim “darted out into traffic,” so the tortfeasor could not avoid the crash.
- Last Clear Chance: This doctrine often comes up in rear-end and intersection crash cases. If one driver had a reasonable opportunity to avoid the crash yet failed to do so, that driver is legally responsible for damages.
Most of these defenses involve a two-step process. First, the insurance company must convince the judge that the defense is legally applicable. Then, the jury must decide that there is enough evidence to trigger the defense.
Connect With an Aggressive Attorney
The insurance company has professionals working hard for it. You need one too. For a free consultation with experienced car accident lawyers in Buffalo, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.