Every year, car crashes kill or seriously injure millions of Americans. Even seemingly simple matters, like intersection or freeway collisions, are often complex. For example, the driver who got the ticket is not always the driver that is responsible for damages. Legal doctrines like contributory negligence and sudden emergency often come into play here.
Furthermore, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is often not the only party that is responsible for damages. If the tortfeasor was a commercial operator, like an Uber driver, the company might be liable for damages, even if there was no paying passenger in the car at the time. Additionally, Minnesota has a broader-than-normal dram shop law. Commercial providers, like bars and restaurants, are often vicariously liable for alcohol-related crash damages.
Because of all these complexities, the process is key for Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers. Attorneys who pay attention to details, as well as the big picture, usually get the most money from a car accident.
There is usually a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages a jury awards. Insurance companies know this, so the same rule applies in pretrial settlement negotiations. Therefore, evidence is critical for Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers.
Often, the trifecta of medical bills, the police accident report, and the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony is sufficient. But in many cases, that’s not true.
The victim/plaintiff’s testimony is a good example. Something almost mystical happens when victims take the stand and tell their own stories in their own words. But such testimony is not always available. That’s obviously the case in most wrongful death claims. Additionally, many Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers do not want to expose victims to withering cross-examinations from insurance company lawyers.
So, additional evidence is often necessary. Such evidence can come from many sources, such as a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. These gadgets are basically like the black box flight data recorders on commercial jets. Exact capacity varies by make and model, but generally, EDRs measure and record information like:
- Brake application,
- Vehicle speed,
- Engine RPM, and
- Steering angle.
Numbers like these are critical in many collision claims. Additionally, unlike eyewitnesses, computers are never biased and never wrong, assuming the devices are working properly.
Apply the Proper Theory
Diligent evidence collection usually produces very good results. In fact, some Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers collect so much evidence that there is an embarrassment of riches. There is so much proof that jurors cannot sort it out.
Car crash evidence is basically like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. A Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer must put the pieces together and form a picture for the jury. In extremely complex cases, such as truck wrecks, many attorneys partner with accident reconstructionists during this phase.
The proper legal theory is a bit like the picture on a jigsaw puzzle box. The theory guides the assembly process. Some common theories in car crash cases include:
- Ordinary Negligence: Basically, negligence is a lack of care. Drowsy driving and distracted driving are both good examples of negligence. If the tortfeasor’s conduct fell below the standard of care, the tortfeasor is liable for damages.
- Negligence Per Se: In many cases, Minnesota law establishes the standard of care. Tortfeasors who violate a safety law, even something like speeding or making an unsafe lane change, might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
- Defective Product: These claims do not involve negligence at all. Manufacturers are strictly liable if their defective products, such as tires, airbags, or ignition switches, cause injury. Substantial damages are often available in these situations. Frequently, manufacturers intentionally put people at risk to increase their own profits.
Damages in a car crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.
Buffalo, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and Diligent Advocacy
Collecting evidence collection and applying theory is like doing homework. If students do their homework, they usually do well on their tests. However, they still need to concentrate on the tests and bring all their skills to bear if they want good grades. Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyers must do the same thing.
In this context, the test usually comes at the negotiating table. Almost all personal injury claims settle out of court. So, an attorney must be a good negotiator. That means having a thorough knowledge of your own case, your client’s needs and preferences, and any insurance company defenses. Keeping these three things in mind ensures that an attorney negotiates from a position of strength.
A few cases go all the way to trial, where a Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer must establish liability by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Rely on Experienced Attorneys
Getting the most money from a car accident is usually a matter of planning your work and working your plan. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.