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Ask a Hutchinson, MN Auto Accident Lawyer: How Much Money Do You Get from a Car Accident Settlement?

by | Jan 6, 2020 | Car Accidents, Firm News, Personal Injury

Many car crashes cause extremely serious injuries. The medical bills alone in a severe injury case, such as a head injury, regularly exceed $100,000.

Despite what television commercials imply, insurance company representatives do not have a victim’s best interests in mind. Instead, the insurance company is primarily concerned with its own profits. That means collecting as many premiums as possible and paying as little compensation as possible.

A Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer, on the other hand, is committed to maximum compensation for victims. Generally, the settlement includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. The actual amount of a settlement varies significantly, usually depending on the factors listed below.

Legal Theory

In general, the legal basis of a car wreck case is a lack of ordinary care. This point is rather straightforward. However, the standard of care, as well as the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) neglect, or lack thereof, is very subjective. Some common theories in car crash cases include:

  • Duty of Care: This idea is based on the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) which Minnesota schoolchildren once memorized. In this context, this duty includes things like driving while sober and well-rested, as well as driving defensively.
  • Contributory Negligence: Many car crashes do not have singular causes. For example, the victim might have been speeding when the tortfeasor (negligent driver) made an illegal turn. In these situations, McLeod County jurors must divide fault between the two parties on a percentage basis.
  • Negligence Per Se: Sometimes, Minnesota law sets the standard of care. Examples include things like driving on the right side of the road and traveling under the speed limit. So, if tortfeasors violate such laws, they might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.

Vicarious liability often comes into play as well. Minnesota’s dram shop law is a good illustration. If commercial providers, like bars or grocery stores, sell alcohol illegally and that patron causes a car crash, the provider might be financially responsible for damages. Examples of an illegal sale include sales to underage patrons, after-hours transactions, and sales to obviously intoxicated persons.

Hutchinson, MN Auto Accident Lawyers and Evidence in Car Wreck Claims

The victim/plaintiff must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Since this rule is the lowest standard of proof in Minnesota, a little evidence goes a long way. However, there is often a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer presents and the amount of damages a McLeod County jury awards.

The Iron Triangle of medical bills, the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony, and the police accident report are often the only evidence in a car crash claim. But that’s not always true. For example, if the victim was killed, the victim/plaintiff’s testimony is obviously unavailable. Furthermore, since it contains only one side of the story, the police accident report might be incomplete and inaccurate.

Therefore, evidence might be a problem. Many times, a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder is the solution. Capability varies by make and model, but most of these gadgets measure and record things like:

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

Items like these could be crucial to a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer. As a bonus, if the gadget was working properly, it’s almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to successfully challenge this evidence. Unlike eyewitnesses, computers are never biased and never mistaken.

To effectively use EDR evidence, a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer must overcome some obstacles. For example, Minnesota has very strict vehicle data privacy laws. Therefore, attorneys usually must obtain court orders before they can access and download EDR information.

Resolving the Case

The amount of a settlement, as well as the timing of a settlement, also depends on a Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer’s ability to resolve the case. There are several qualities to look for in an attorney, such as:

  • Experience: Like other professionals, attorneys learn many things not from law school, but from the school of hard knocks. There is a close relationship between years of experience and overall ability. Your injury claim is much too important to trust to someone who requires on-the-job training.
  • Track Record: Experience only tells part of the story. Many Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyers spend years in the business and only try a handful of cases. Insurance companies are only scared of attorneys with substantial trial experience and successful track records.
  • Bedside Manner: Some lawyers are not bilingual. They speak Legalese fluently, but are not very proficient in English. Your Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer should relate complex legal problems in simple terms, so you can make the best possible decisions.

The bottom line is that if the legal theory is sound, the evidence is compelling, and the Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer is well qualified, the settlement should be on the best terms available under the circumstances.

Contact an Assertive Attorney

Car crash victims need and deserve substantial compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN auto accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.