Experienced Minnesota Car Accident Lawyers
Car accidents are as American as apple pie, and in 2008 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that about 5.8 million police-reported traffic accidents occurred throughout the country’s roads. That same year, AAA reported that car accidents alone cost Americans about $164.2 billion every year.
More locally, in Minnesota, the numbers are just as bleak. In 2015, there were 74,772 reported traffic accidents brought to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. That same year 411 people died in Minnesota, and 29,981 people were injured in car accidents. The 411 traffic fatalities in 2015 was a 13.9 percent increase from the previous year, and with these numbers likely to continue to rise, there are clear indications that traffic fatalities throughout Minnesota have become an epidemic.
The fact is Minnesota has struggled to lower these incidents. There have been successes over the years. There are fewer crashes involving speeding with better monitoring. A lack of seat belts related to fatalities has dropped 14 percent with increased education and awareness. Obviously, there is still more work to do.
With these numbers in mind, it’s safe to say you have been or will be involved in a car accident throughout your lifetime. This page aims to help everyone throughout the entire process that goes with any car crash incident. Some of the things we’ll be talking about will include common causes of car accidents, how car accident cases work, determining who is at fault, auto insurance’s role, and recovering damages from multiple defendants.
Common Causes of St Paul Car Accidents
It’s safe to say one of the most common causes of all accidents out on the road is because of the actions of one or more drivers driving recklessly or with negligence. When a car accident does occur, the police will have to decipher which driver was at fault, mainly by finding out who broke a law or rule.
Negligent driving is defined differently in every state, but in general, it means that someone failed to be reasonably careful and did something that the average person would know could harm another driver. Some common examples of negligent driving include ignoring speed limits, failing to signal when turning, DUI, disobeying traffic signals, distracted driving, failing to drive safely in poor weather, etc.
There are many other causes besides a driver’s specific actions that cause accidents all of the time, and these causes are just as important to recognize when out on the road. Some of the more common examples of these would be things like a defect in a vehicle, a defective surface of the road, or traffic signals/signs that aren’t clearly visible or are malfunctioning.
Common Injuries Associated with St. Paul Car Accidents
Car accidents can result in a variety of different types of injuries, ranging from minor to severe or life-threatening. A minor injury can still result in thousands of dollars in debt. A severe injury, however, can land someone with hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in medical costs over the span of their life.
The severity of one’s injury depends on the type of accident they’re involved in. For example, t-bone accidents are associated more frequently with severe injuries than rear-end accidents are.
The most common types of car accident injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Herniated discs
- Sprains and strains
- Breaks and fractures
- Cuts and bruises
- And, unfortunately, death
How St Paul Car Accident Cases Work
The combination of personal injury and traffic law is what is used when dealing with car accident law. Anyone who ends up getting injured in an accident can, of course, hire an attorney to help negotiate with the other parties involved in the accident to determine who is at fault and who should pay for the damages. If these negotiations don’t go well, it may be necessary for your attorney to file a lawsuit, and that’s where things will get more complicated.
A judge will piece together everything that happened in your specific case by utilizing photos, police reports, as well as any other evidence and then analyze the local traffic laws and legal concepts to make his or her decision about who is at fault. The party who is found at fault will more than likely have to compensate the other party for any medical and property expenses, and sometimes other expenses like pain and suffering and lost wages.
This part of the process can be a lot easier said than done because both drivers can be partly at fault for any accident. Each state holds different rules in these situations, especially when more than one person is responsible for the crash.
Auto Insurance’s Role in Car Accident Cases
Car insurance is always required in every state, and drivers everywhere must carry some kind of minimum amount of liability insurance. Insurance does make a big difference when it comes to injured people receiving compensation, but of course, it’s not always a guarantee you’ll get the amount that you need.
Before an insurance company will reward a claim, they’ll go through an elaborate investigation process to determine the cause of the accident. For minor accidents, insurance companies will be the only ones doing any real investigating. The police always get involved in other, more serious accidents, especially those involving death.
It’s a very fortunate aspect of these unfortunate circumstances that most people won’t have to pay for everything when it comes to damages that stem from automobile collisions. Car insurance will help you pay for at least a significant portion of damages and replacement costs to your property for all parties involved, and they’ll pay at least a portion of medical expenses also.
Determining Fault in a St. Paul Car Accident Case
To determine fault in Minnesota, you must be able to prove the following:
- The at-fault party owed a certain duty of care to the victim. In car accident cases, this is easy. By getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, all drivers assume this duty of care. It’s their duty to drive safely to protect others and themselves from accidents.
- There was a breach of the duty of care. For example, if a driver were texting, driving while intoxicated, or speeding, this would be a clear breach of their duty as a driver.
- As a result of the breach, an accident occurred that caused your injuries. Simply put, this is called causation. You must be able to link the breach to your injuries. This is why it’s so important to seek immediate medical attention after an accident. If you don’t, insurance adjusters may claim that these two are not connected.
- And finally, you must be able to prove that there are damages associated with your injuries and the accident. This can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Most states have different rules when it comes to deciding which party in an accident must pay all the bills. Many times, when both or all parties are responsible for the crash, the parties will split the expenses in an appropriate amount that equals each party’s amount of fault.
St. Paul No-Fault Car Insurance Rule
Many have heard of this system but don’t fully understand its meaning. For example, say you have a fender-bender in St. Paul. With this, you have to turn everything over to your own insurance company. This happens regardless of who is at fault. Many accidents are minor and handled with little legal intervention. With no significant injuries or issues, the insurance company settles the claim.
Exceptions to No-Fault
There are exceptions that allow a liability claim or personal injury lawsuit. In Minnesota, one must meet one of two requirements:
1) The medical expenses must total more than $4,000 after the crash.
2) A liability claim or personal injury lawsuit is within legal rights if the victim suffered a permanent injury, permanent scarring, or disfigurement. A 60-day period of disability is also a reasonable exception. If there one or both of these occur, the door for legal options opens.
Minnesota Statute of Limitations
This is something many don’t consider when considering legal options. However, this is important. In the state of Minnesota, a person only has a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit. This time period starts from the date of the accident. If this time runs out, then a person has lost the ability to bring a claim or suit.
Partially at Fault
Many times the blame for the accident gets decided in court. The person at fault pays for the costs, including medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repair, and any pain or suffering caused by the accident. However, many times the court reveals that the plaintiff, the person bringing the case, is partially at fault.
This does happen sometimes. When it does, Minnesota has a modified comparative fault rule. This comes into play when the court decides both parties share some fault for the accident. For example, a jury finds the plaintiff 30 percent responsible for the crash. This means the plaintiff will still receive 70 percent of the total calculated damages.
If the fault is found below 50 percent, the plaintiff receives some damages. However, if both parties are found 50 percent responsible, or the plaintiff is found over 50 percent responsible, the plaintiff receives no damages. This rule is different from many other states. Many other states reward some damages even if both parties are equally responsible.
Recovering Damages from Multiple Defendants
There can be many situations in which there are multiple defendants in a car accident case, and that’s because construction companies, municipal governments, reckless drivers, car manufacturers, and all sorts of people can be partially to blame for an accident occurring.
An experienced attorney will make sure that the plaintiff has pressed charges against all potential parties that are responsible for the accident. This is mainly because a plaintiff only has one chance to obtain compensation for damages/injuries. If a car accident victim only sues one party when they could have sued more, then they are losing out on an opportunity to build another lawsuit against those at fault.
What usually happens when there are multiple defendants is that a jury will apportion out a certain percentage of fault, as we described above in the previous section. Many times the plaintiff’s own culpability will be evaluated during this process as well. When the plaintiff is partially at fault but is less at fault than the defendants, it’s the defendants’ liability that is reduced and allocated proportionately.
Minnesota is a state that follows the joint and several liability doctrines, which state that defendants are jointly and severally liable if their actions concurrently brought about a victim’s injuries. This means that a plaintiff can seek to recover their full value of damages/injuries from any party at fault, no matter how much that party is at fault as compared to the other defendants, and then it’s on that defendant party to seek out the contribution from the other parties who have also been found at fault.
An example of this would be when a construction company is partly to blame for an accident occurring because their signs weren’t visible to a drunk/reckless driver who then created an accident with the plaintiff. With the ‘joint and several liability’ doctrine, a plaintiff can seek full retribution for their damages from the construction company, who would then have to seek contribution from the drunk/reckless driver.
Contact an Experienced St. Paul Car Accident Attorney
People don’t think about how fast a car accident happens. One minute, you are driving home after work. In less than a second, everything changes. They are terrifying and frustrating to deal with. Luckily, many accidents occur with no extreme property damage or personal injury. They end up scaring drivers more than hurting them. However, do you know your legal rights when this isn’t the case?
With such statistics, it is obvious why your legal rights need to be understood. Having a car accident isn’t inevitable. However, there is an obvious possibility of it happening. If you or a loved one has suffered an accident, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Don’t let time run out. Contact the award-winning car accident lawyers at Sand Law and let us help you decide what legal options are available.