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Ask a Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyer: How Much Money Will I Get from My Auto Accident Settlement?

by | Jan 29, 2020 | Car Accidents, Firm News, Injuries

In catastrophic injury wrecks, such as spinal injury, the medical bills alone could exceed $4 million over a lifetime. This figure does not include other economic losses, such as lost wages. This figure also does not include pain and suffering. Depending on the facts, noneconomic damages could be three times the economic losses.

But do not cash your check for $16 million just yet. This figure represents the worst possible wrecks, such as 18-wheeler fireball collisions. Additionally, this figure is just a starting point for settlement negotiations. Largely depending on the facts of the case, the final amount could be significantly less.

To obtain the most money from an auto accident, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers focus on the nuts and bolts. The Great Wall of China wasn’t built in a day. However, if attorneys concentrate on the details and build walls one brick at a time, good things usually happen.

Evidence Collection

This part of a personal injury case might be the most important phase. Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in injury cases. Furthermore, there is often a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages a Crow Wing County jury awards.

Moreover, this part of the process is often the most time-consuming for Brainerd, MN accident lawyers. There are many obstacles to overcome. The critical Event Data Recorder is a good example. Much like a commercial airliner’s black box flight recorder, the EDR captures and records operational information such as:

  • Engine RPM,
  • Steering angle,
  • Brake application, and
  • Vehicle speed.

These devices are technically sophisticated. That’s especially true of large truck and tour bus EDRs. A Brainerd, MN accident lawyer must have more than a screwdriver and a laptop.

That’s assuming the EDR is available at all. Unless an attorney acts quickly, this availability is usually a problem. Typically, insurance companies destroy totaled vehicles a few days after the accident. If that happens, any physical evidence in the vehicle, such as the EDR, is gone forever.

So, Brainerd, MN accident lawyers send spoliation letters to insurance companies. This letter creates a legal duty to preserve all potential physical evidence, including the EDR. If insurance companies ignore spoliation letters, judges often impose harsh penalties.

There’s more. Minnesota has very strict vehicle data privacy laws. Generally, only the owner or an authorized representative, like a mechanic, can access the information. Therefore, an attorney must either secure a waiver from the owner or a court order from a judge.

Somewhat different privacy laws apply to other types of evidence, such as video surveillance footage, medical bills, and police accident reports.

We still aren’t finished. EDR information is compelling, but only if a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer knows how to present it. Fortunately, most Crow Wing County courtrooms have large video screens and other such platforms.

On a related note, EDR data is almost bulletproof in court. Eyewitnesses, no matter how well-meaning they are, can be biased or mistaken. However, assuming the gadget is working properly, computers are always impartial and always correct. Additionally, computers never break down under cross-examination from insurance company lawyers or change their stories after their depositions.

Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Legal Theories

Ordinary negligence is essentially a lack of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must obey the rules of the road, both the written and unwritten ones. Plus, they must drive defensively and avoid accidents whenever possible.

If drivers breach the duty of care, and that breach causes injury, they might be responsible for damages. Examples of a breach of duty include driving while fatigued and driving with a chronic medical condition which could cause a loss of consciousness.

Uber drivers, truck drivers, and other commercial operators usually have a higher duty of care in these cases. So, it is easier to establish ordinary negligence and settlement amounts are often higher.

Negligence per se is the violation of a safety law, such as speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, or making an illegal turn. This theory often applies in car wreck claims. Most drivers cannot travel more than a few blocks without breaking at least one safety law. Tortfeasors might be liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They violate a safety law, and
  • That violation substantially causes injury.

Sometimes, monetary settlements are not quite as high in negligence per se claims. It all depends on the facts of the case, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer’s skill level, and some other factors.

Defective products, like bad tires, also cause some car crashes. Legally, defective product claims are similar to negligence per se. Manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries their dangerous products cause.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Largely depending on the facts and law, car crash settlements could be substantial. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.