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The Three Types of Negligence in a Brainerd Car Accident Claim

by | Feb 24, 2019 | Brainerd, Car Accidents, Firm News

Most car accidents are not “accidents” in the sense that they were unavoidable or inevitable. Human error, mostly driver error, accounts for over 90 percent of these incidents. When that driver error is also a lack of care, which is usually the case, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) may be legally responsible for damages.

These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases. The amount and type of damages largely depends on the facts of the case and the skill of your Brainerd personal injury lawyer.

Many of the cases these attorneys handle involve one of the three types of negligence discussed below. The categories may sound academic, but understanding them helps a Brainerd personal injury lawyer obtain maximum compensation in a car wreck case.

Behavioral Negligence

Many drivers know they should not get behind the wheel, yet they do so anyway. In the process, they knowingly put other people at risk. Therefore, damages in behavioral negligence cases tend to be rather high.

Alcohol is a good example. Most people are not legally intoxicated until after they consume three or four drinks, but impairment begins with the first drink. So, alcohol is a factor in about a third of the fatal crashes in Minnesota. Alcohol impairs both reflexes and judgment ability. People need both these things to safely operate motor vehicles.

As in many other types of cases, Brainerd personal injury lawyers may use either direct or circumstantial evidence to establish alcohol impairment. If the tortfeasor was arrested for DUI, the tortfeasor may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. Circumstantial evidence of impairment includes things like erratic driving, bloodshot eyes, and an odor of alcohol.

Many other drivers make poor choices and therefore put other drivers at risk, thus failing to live up to the standard of care. Some other types of behavioral negligence include:

  • Fatigue: Drowsiness and alcohol have basically the same effect on the body and mind. Both slow reaction times and make it difficult or impossible to focus on a task.
  • Drugs: In some areas, there are more “drugged” drivers than “drunk” drivers. Most drug-impaired motorists ingested legal substances, such as prescription painkillers or some over-the-counter drugs. Even if it is legal to take these drugs, it’s illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of certain drugs.
  • Medical Condition: Chronic illnesses like heart disease and epilepsy may cause drivers to lose consciousness suddenly and without warning. The resulting loss-of-control collisions often cause extremely serious injuries.

Punitive damages are available in behavioral and other types of negligence cases if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk and/or behaved extremely recklessly.

Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Operational Negligence

Some people are physically fit and capable of driving when they get on the road. But, they subsequently make poor choices. If these poor choices constitute a lack of ordinary care, the driver may be legally responsible for damages.

Distracted driving is the most common form of operational negligence. Every year, distracted drivers seriously injure over 390,000 people. Hand-held cellphones may be the main culprit. But studies show that hands-free devices may even be more dangerous. These gadgets still distract drivers by pulling their eyes off the road and taking their minds off driving. Additionally, hands-free devices may give people a false sense of security.

Simple deficiencies, such as failing to look both ways before pulling into traffic, are a serious problem as well. These TBFTL (turned but failed to look) crashes are especially a problem in places like Brainerd. Many people in Crow Wing County drive large SUVs or pickup trucks. These big vehicles inhibit driver vision.

Brainerd personal injury lawyers can suggest several legal options in these cases. People who use cellphones while driving may be liable for damages as a matter of law. In other cases, Brainerd personal injury lawyers can introduce circumstantial evidence and obtain compensation for victims.

Environmental Negligence

Some drivers do not technically break any traffic laws but they may still be liable for damages. They may fail to adjust for adverse conditions like:

  • Wet roads,
  • Darkness,
  • Sunrise/sunset glare, and
  • Fog.

In fact, when conditions are less than ideal, drivers arguably have an enhanced duty of care. They must slow down, use appropriate safety equipment, and have a special degree of driving skill.

The type of driver may also affect the type of environmental or other negligence. Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and other commercial operators are common carriers in Minnesota. These individuals have a special legal responsibility, especially with regard to the safety of passengers in their vehicles.

Connect with Tenacious Attorneys

Negligent drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.