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Can Accident Lawyers in Brainerd, MN Hold Third Parties Responsible for Car Crash Damages?

by | Sep 6, 2019 | Car Accidents, Firm News, Injuries

Third-party liability, which is also called vicarious liability, is very important in Minnesota. The Gopher State has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. Many drivers have less than $50,000 in medical expense coverage. In catastrophic injury situations, like serious burns and spine injuries, the medical bills alone could be twenty times that high.

Furthermore, insurance companies often look for legal loopholes to deny coverage. For example, if an Uber or Lyft driver causes a crash, the insurance company will almost certainly deny coverage, unless the driver had a commercial use policy or rider.

So, in many cases, third-party liability could be the difference between fair compensation and settling for less. Therefore, accident lawyers in Brainerd, MN often count on vicarious liability to provide victim/plaintiffs with an additional source of recovery.

Alcohol Provider Liability

Alcohol causes about a third of the fatal crashes in Crow Wing County. So, the injuries in these claims often well exceed the aforementioned insurance minimums. Fortunately for victims, Section 340A.801 of the Minnesota Statutes is one of the broadest dram shop laws in the country.

Restaurants, bars, grocery stores, convenience stores, and other commercial alcohol providers are liable for car crash damages if they sell alcohol illegally to a customer who later causes a car crash. Some examples of illegal sales include:

  • After or Before Hours: If a customer wants to buy alcohol a few minutes early or a few minutes late, many establishments allow the transaction. But one minute could be the difference between a legal and illegal sale.
  • Liquor License Issues: Many establishments continue selling alcohol even if their license is suspended or expired. Additionally, many establishments jump the gun, and they sell alcohol before their licenses take effect.
  • Underage: Even if customers present fake IDs, like about their age, or “look older,” the sale is illegal if the customer is under 21.
  • Intoxicated: Evidence of intoxication at the time of sale includes bloodshot eyes, purchase history (e.g. the customer has already had three rounds), slurred speech, and unsteady balance.

Additionally, accident lawyers in Brainerd, MN must establish foreseeability. Generally, if the customer drove a vehicle to the establishment, a subsequent wreck was foreseeable.

Accident Lawyers in Brainerd, MN and Employer Liability

Respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) usually applies in truck driver, taxi driver, bus driver, Uber driver, and other commercial operator accidents. This legal rule has two basic prongs:

  • Employee: Although they do not receive regular paychecks, independent contractors, owner-operators, and even many unpaid volunteers are usually “employees” in this context. Employers control all these people in terms of things like hours worked, and that control is sufficient to establish an employer-employee relationship.
  • Scope of Employment: In a similar vein, any act which benefits the employer in any way is typically within the scope of employment. For example, in workers’ compensation cases, an injury at an employee softball game is within the scope of employment. The free advertising benefits the employer.

The foreseeability rule also applies in respondeat superior matters. Generally, a car crash is always a foreseeable consequence, unless the employee broke into the parking garage and took a vehicle without permission.

Other employer liability theories, which often apply in sexual assault and other intentional tort claims, include negligent supervision and negligent hiring. Negligent supervision is the failure to properly watch employees, and negligent hiring is hiring legally incompetent workers.

Owner Liability

According to the negligent entrustment rule, owners are liable for damages if they allow incompetent drivers to use their vehicles, and these drivers cause car crashes. Negligent entrustment comes up a lot in teen driver cases. It arises in other circumstances as well, such as one roommate borrowing another roommate’s car to make a beer run. Evidence of incompetency includes:

  • No drivers’ license,
  • Safety suspended license,
  • Driving in violation of a license restriction (e.g. without required eyeglasses), and
  • A poor driving record.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car and other commercial negligent entrustment claims work a bit differently. The Graves Amendment requires accident lawyers in Brainerd, MN to prove some additional facts.

Rely on a Dedicated Lawyer

Third-party liability theories give victim/plaintiffs an additional source of recovery. For a free consultation with an experienced accident lawyer in Brainerd, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.