Experienced Legal Counsel Practicing Throughout Minnesota

from offices in Brainerd, Buffalo, Hutchinson And Minnetonka

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Brainerd
  4.  » Can Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers Make Car Crash Defenses Fun?

Can Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers Make Car Crash Defenses Fun?

by | Dec 25, 2018 | Brainerd, Car Accidents, Firm News

There is nothing “fun” about a serious car crash. Just a few seconds alter the victim’s life forever, causing tremendous pain and suffering in the process. However, constant hand-wringing and depression over your physical and financial condition helps no one. Sometimes, a little distraction is very good medicine.

Normally, words like “Brainerd personal injury lawyers” and “fun” go together about as well as res ipsa loquitur and Six Flags. Hopefully, this post will be an exception. Along the way, this post may also offer some additional insight into some very complex legal issues.

Assumption of the Risk

This insurance company defense is quite common in premises liability cases, such as slip-and-fall injuries, swimming pool drownings, and dog bites. The doctrine also sometimes comes up in drug overdose cases. These incidents are the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States.

Loyal SpongeBob SquarePants viewers might remember that this scene from Patrick SmartPants came about after a friendly game of tag went off the rails. The scene also illustrates both prongs of the assumption of the risk defense, which are:

  • Voluntary Assumption: No one forced or cajoled Patrick into running off a cliff. It was not a very smart thing to do, but it was entirely a voluntary act.
  • Known Risk: Patrick clearly did not understand the “Danger Cliff” sign. He spent several strides deciphering the two-syllable word “danger,” and he still didn’t get it quite right. Since he did not understand the sign, falling off the cliff was not a known risk.

This same issue arises when landowners post signs like “No Lifeguard on Duty” or “Beware of Dog.” Victims with limited English team up, limited reading skills, or (like Patrick) just plain limited intelligence, may be unable to read and understand such signs.

Written waivers are much the same. Assume Tim pays for a skydiving class, but the company insists that he sign a liability waiver. He jumps out of the plane, his chute does not open, and, well, you can probably figure out the rest.

At first blush, the assumption of the risk defense seems clear-cut. But Tim paid for the lesson before the company forced him to sign the waiver. If anybody pays for anything and the other party refuses to provide the good or service, that’s theft. Additionally, waivers are usually not “voluntary.” Instead, they are generally take-it-or-leave-it contracts of adhesion, and these pacts are involuntary.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and the Sudden Emergency Defense

The Chris Farley/David Spade team-up is thelive action equivalent of Patrick and SpongeBob (a fat guy and a skinny guy). Farley and Spade made several movies together, and many think that Tommy Boy was the best of the bunch.

As Tommy and Richard continue their noble quest to sell brake pads, the car hood suddenly flies up. The incident illustrates both prongs of the sudden emergency defense, which are:

  • Unexpected Situation: A hood fly-up is like a lighning strike or a tire tread separation. No driver could possibly anticipate these things. Other hazards, like jaywalking pedestrians or large potholes, are not “sudden emergencies.” Drivers should be ready for these things.
  • Reasonable Reaction: When a sudden emergency strikes, reasonable drivers pull over to the side of the road. But Tommy drove recklessly and even crossed the centerline. So, even though the hood fly-up was an unexpected situation, sudden emergency would not apply in this case.

BRainerd personal injury lawyers see the sudden emergency defense a lot in vehicle-on-pedestrian and vehicle-on-motorcycle crashes. The tortfeasors (negligent drivers) in these cases usually say things like “the guy darted out into traffic” or “that motorcycle rider came out of nowhere.”

Farley and Spade only made three movies together, because Chris Farley passed away in 1998.

Last Clear Chance

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is another bittersweet comedy. Actor John Candy (Dell Griffith) is dead, as is writer/director John Hughes.

Insurance companies often use the last clear chance defense in head-on and rear-end collision claims. Legally, if a driver has a chance to prevent a crash, perhaps by changing lanes, the driver help do so. Drivers who fail to avoid avoidable crashes are legally responsible for damages.

Wrong-way driver Dell Griffith certainly appears to be at fault. But notice that the road was straight and level. Moreover, the approaching semi-trucks honked, so they clearly saw Dell coming. Therefore, upon further review, the truck drivers may be legally responsible for this crash.

Even though they were not physically injured, Dell and Neal Page (Steve Martin) may have a claim for damages under Minnesota’s watered down negligent infliction of emotional distress doctrine. But that’s the subject of another Brainerd personal injury lawyer blog.

Reach Out to Savvy Attorneys

A good lawyer knows why things work on a starship, and not just how they work. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.