All across Minnesota, motorists are driving their cars, trucks and SUVs to work, the grocery store, soccer practice and a hundred other destinations. A recent annual report shows that 4.74 million people hold Minnesota driver’s licenses and 5.12 million vehicles are registered in the state. While most motorists drive safely and obey traffic laws, there are some who don’t. Careless drivers who are speeding, running stop signs or worse can create havoc, causing crashes that result in injuries and death. If you’ve been hurt in a crash, our Maplewood car accident lawyers can help you get the justice you deserve.
In Minnesota, there were 364 traffic deaths in 2019, a slight decrease compared with 381 deaths the previous year, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Of the 364 fatalities:
- 89 involved drunk driving
- 75 were speed related
- 34 involved distracted driving
- 73 were motorists not wearing seatbelts.
There were 80,636 traffic crashes in Minnesota in 2019, in which 27,260 people were injured. Cars and trucks traveled more than 60.7 billion miles on Minnesota roadways that year.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or your loved one was killed in a vehicle crash, you may be entitled to financial compensation. This is especially true if the injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence. People injured in car accidents often face mounting medical bills, time off work, and months of rehabilitation. You don’t have to face this alone. To find out more about how our Maplewood car accident attorneys can help, call Tyroler Leonard Injury Law at 651-259-1113 for a free consultation.
Car Accident Lawsuit FAQs
Our car accident attorneys in Maplewood, MN, answer frequent questions.
Clients often have similar questions about various aspects of a car accident lawsuit. These questions can include queries about timing, locations, dollar amounts, and costs. Following are some answers to frequently asked questions:
Can I sue if my loved one died in a car accident?
Yes. If your family member died in a crash in Maplewood that was caused by a drunk driver, a fatigued truck driver, a negligent driver, or another vehicle careening recklessly, you can recover a number of different types of damages – including out-of-pocket expenses like funeral and burial costs – by filing a wrongful death claim.
What is the average car accident settlement amount?
Because every case is different, there is no “average” settlement that a Maplewood car accident victim could receive. Each case is fact dependent. Generally, the more severe the injury, the higher the damages awarded. Different factors like income loss and medical bills can also play a role. Also, if multiple people are injured, if someone dies, or if there’s evidence of gross negligence where punitive damages are awarded, the payout can be higher.
When and where do car accidents happen most often?
According to the National Safety Council, fatal crashes happen more frequently on weekends, peaking on Saturday. On the other hand, non-fatal crashes occur more frequently on weekdays, especially Friday. The peak time of day for car accidents in the U.S. is between 4 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. Car crashes happen more frequently on holiday weekends than during non-holiday periods. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a significant number of car crashes happen within a few miles of home. In urban areas, crash statistics show that intersections are particularly dangerous.
Who is the defendant in a car accident lawsuit?
There can be one or several defendants in a car accident lawsuit. For example, if you’re hit by a commercial vehicle, potential defendants could include the other driver, his insurance provider, the company that owns the fleet of cars, and even the car manufacturer if there’s evidence of a manufacturing defect. Also, a government agency could be a defendant if the agency was negligent in road construction, design or maintenance.
How long does a car accident lawsuit take?
Each car accident case is different, depending on how long the injuries take to heal, how much treatment is needed, how many witnesses need to be interviewed, the amount of evidence to be examined, the number of defendants, who is at fault, and the willingness of the defendant(s) or their insurance companies to negotiate. Cases can take a few months to a few years to reach a settlement agreement or jury award. Your Maplewood car accident attorney can advise you about the potential timeframe for your particular case.
Can I get reimbursed for a rental car after a crash?
Typically, when the other party is at fault, you are entitled to reimbursement from the responsible party’s insurance company for use of a rental car (similar to your own) for a reasonable period of time after the accident. If you have your own rental coverage, you can also get a rental through your own insurance company.
If I’m injured in a car accident and self-employed, how are lost wages calculated?
In most cases, paystubs and previous tax records, specifically 1099s or W2s, are used to determined past and present loss of income. By proving what you’ve earned in the past, you can calculate what you’re likely losing now. The more years of past tax documents you can show, the better. You can order copies of previous tax returns from the IRS.gov website.
Different Types of Injuries in Car Accidents
Our car accident lawyer in Maplewood, MN, can file legal claims for a variety of injuries.
Preliminary data from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that as many as 42,060 people are estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2020. The estimated rate of death on the roads in 2020 spiked 24% over the previous 12-month period, despite miles driven in 2020 dropping 13%. This increase in the rate of traffic deaths is the highest estimated year-over-year jump in 96 years, according to the NSC.
An estimated 4.8 million additional roadway users were seriously injured in car and truck accidents nationwide in 2020, and the estimated cost to society was about $474 billion, according to the NSC. There are several types of injuries that commonly occur in traffic accidents. These include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI),
- Neck and back injuries,
- Broken bones,
- Cuts, abrasions, and lacerations,
- Internal bleeding,
- Organ damage,
- Puncture wounds,
- Paralysis, and
- Wrongful death.
Some common causes of vehicle crashes include:
- Drunk driving,
- Distracted driving (texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, etc.),
- Failure to follow rules of the road,
- Illegal lane changes,
- Running through traffic lights and stop signs,
- Ice, snow, rain, and inclement weather, and
- Vehicles with manufacturing defects.
Damages Car Accident Victims May Be Entitled To
If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to damages. Damages can be both economic and non-economic. They include:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses (current and future),
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future earnings,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Emotional distress (including trauma, humiliation, and disfigurement).
In some instances, there can also be punitive damages in addition to the damages listed above. Punitive damages are awarded by a court when there is evidence of gross negligence by a defendant who knowingly or recklessly placed persons in danger or if the defendant had a history of safety violations. Punitive damages, as the name implies, are designed to punish a defendant and prevent any other would-be wrongdoers from being similarly negligent.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Minnesota
Because of Minnesota’s statute of limitations, you have a limited amount of time to act. Generally, if the six-year negligence statute of limitation expires, personal injury victims lose the legal right to obtain compensation for their injuries. However, there are some exceptions.
For example, if the injured victim was under 18, the personal injury statute of limitations doesn’t expire until the victim turns 19, even if the six-year period ends.
The delayed discovery rule is another example. This rule doesn’t come up too often in car wreck claims. Generally, car accident victims sustain trauma injuries which are readily apparent. But other people have illnesses that take many years to develop. Under the delayed discovery rule, the statute of limitations clock does not start ticking until victims know the full extent of their injuries and they connect those injuries to a defendant’s wrongful conduct.
Assume Jamal takes Drug X in 2022. The next year, the government recalls Drug X because it causes cancer. In 2032, Jamal’s doctor diagnoses him with cancer. In 2034, he stumbles across a news story about the link between Drug X and cancer. In this example, the statute of limitations clock doesn’t start ticking until 2034. So, Jamal has until 2040 to file a claim for damages.
Minnesota Shared-Fault Rules
Even if you were partially at fault for a wreck, a Maplewood car accident lawyer can still obtain compensation in court.
Except for some single-car collisions, almost all vehicle collision claims have multiple causes. Therefore, the comparative fault defense is available in almost all such cases.
Essentially, comparative fault, or contributory negligence, shifts blame for an accident from the tortfeasor (negligent party) to the victim (innocent party). The defendant, which is usually an insurance company, has the burden of production and the burden of persuasion.
The burden of production means the insurance company must convince a judge that, based on the facts, the comparative fault defense applies. Assume Ben collides with Jerry. Ben ran a red light and Jerry was speeding 1 mph over the limit. Technically, they are both partially at fault. But Jerry’s marginal speeding probably didn’t contribute to the wreck in any meaningful way.
Now assume Ben ran a yellow light and Jerry was speeding 20 mph over the limit. Based on these facts, a judge would probably rule that the comparative fault defense could apply.
The burden of persuasion means the insurance company must convince jurors that Jerry’s excessive speed, as opposed to Ben’s negligence, caused the wreck. Usually, jurors divide responsibility on a percentage basis, such as 50-50 or 70-30.
At this point, different states have different rules. Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, if a victim is less than 49 percent at fault, the other party must pay a proportional amount of compensation.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Basically, negligence is a lack of ordinary care. Minnesota law lays out four basic elements of a negligence case:
- Duty: Most noncommercial drivers must follow the rules of the road and drive defensively. That’s called a duty of reasonable care. Commercial drivers, like Uber drivers and taxi drivers, are held to a higher standard of care in Minnesota.
- Breach: A breach is a violation of duty. Not every driving error is a breach of duty. Jerry’s 1 mph speeding was probably not a breach of duty. However, it could be a breach of duty if the road was icy or conditions were otherwise bad.
- Cause: This element has two sub-elements. First, a Maplewood car accident lawyer must show a connection between the breach and the damage. Additionally, victim/plaintiffs must prove foreseeability (possibility). If Jerry got a sepsis infection at the hospital, even though there is a connection between the infection and the wreck, Ben is not legally responsible for it. A hospital infection is not a foreseeable injury.
- Damage: In most cases, the victim must have a tangible injury that money could address. Sometimes, victims may file claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress, which is slightly different. Money cannot turn back the clock and reverse an injury. But it’s the only remedy available and, quite frankly, it helps.
Typically, a judge decides the legal issues in a case, like duty and foreseeability. Usually, a Maplewood car accident lawyer must prove the other elements by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Common defenses in negligence claims include comparative fault, which was discussed above, assumption of the risk, sudden emergency, and last clear chance.
Choosing the Best Maplewood Car Accident Attorney
Skill, experience, and a track record of success make all the difference.
Minnesota has more lawyers per person than almost any other state. Almost all of them could probably handle a car crash case. But only top Maplewood car accident attorneys can obtain maximum compensation in court. The best lawyers have the right combination of experience, dedication, and accessibility.
Law school instructors help their students think like lawyers. But only practice experience helps these former students act like lawyers. All courts have unique procedural and other rules. Many of these rules are unwritten. No one can learn these things in school.
Practice experience is good, but even it is not enough. Your attorney should have a successful track record and some trial experience. You don’t want a lawyer with limited skills who looks for the easy way out.
Dedication to personal injury means dedication to the victims of these accidents. An attorney must want to stand up for your legal and financial rights, both in court and during settlement negotiation sessions.
Finally, your lawyer should be accessible and available. If you have a question, you should be able to talk to your lawyer, and not a less-experienced associate or a non-lawyer assistant.
Isaac Tyroler has these qualifications, and more. He has been practicing law for more than a decade and is admitted to the bar in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as in U.S. District Court. Over the years, he has won millions of dollars for families just like yours. Additionally, Mr. Tyroler is a multiple recipient of the Super Lawyers Rising Star Award. He is also a frequent speaker at legal seminars.
Contact Our Maplewood Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and need help getting the compensation you deserve, Tyroler Injury Law can help. We have a track record of success in holding careless drivers accountable for the injuries and harm they cause. We represent all our clients aggressively and fight for their rights. To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free initial consultation at 651-259-1113.