Different Types of Injuries in Car Accidents
In Minnesota, motorists drive their cars, trucks, and SUVs to work, the grocery store, soccer practice, and hundreds of 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, some 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 Washington County car accident lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.
2020 coronavirus lockdowns interrupted this pattern. Many pundits predicted fewer car crashes would be one of the “silver linings” of this dark cloud. Instead, the number of fatal car crashes increased dramatically in 2020. In most areas, traffic enforcement, including DUI enforcement, dropped to almost nothing.
So drivers pushed the envelope. They drove while intoxicated, speeded, and stopped wearing their seat belts. Like many bad habits, these bad habits proved to be easy to form and hard to break. As a result, the number of fatal crashes increased even further in 2021 to a sixteen-year high. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the situation a “crisis” and promised to do something about it.
Political efforts to curb car wrecks aren’t enough, and these efforts usually do nothing to compensate the crash victims. Only a Stillwater car accident lawyer can do that.
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 learn more about how our Stillwater car accident attorney can help, call Tyroler Injury Law at 651-259-1113 for a free consultation.
Our car accident lawyer in Stillwater, 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. Some of these include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken bones
- Cuts, abrasions, and lacerations
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Puncture wounds
- 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
- 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.
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses (current and future)
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress (including trauma, humiliation, and disfigurement).
In some instances, there can 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
In most cases, the statute of limitations for a car accident claim is six years in Minnesota.
The 6-year statute of limitations for Minnesota car accident lawsuits can be found in Minnesota Statutes section 541.07. There are a few scenarios in which the “clock” on the six-year statute of limitations might be delayed.
If the injured person is under the age of 18, then the statute does not run until the later of 6 years or when the person turns 19 years old.
If the injured person is legally insane, then the clock won’t start running until the period of legal disability is over (mental competence is restored). However, this filing deadline won’t be extended beyond five (5) years; once sanity is restored, the suit must be filed within one (1) year. (Minnesota Statutes section 541.15.)
Minnesota Shared-Fault Rules
Stillwater car accident claims follow a “Modified Comparative Negligence” rule.
Some states, including Minnesota, follow a rule known as modified comparative negligence. This means the law recognizes that in many situations more than one person may be at fault for an accidental injury. The court will determine the amount of fault that belongs to each party based on the facts in a case.
As long as your share of the fault is 50% or less, you will be entitled to collect some amount of damages for your injury. Let’s take a look at an example that illustrates this rule. Suppose you’re driving to your mother’s house on a road where the speed limit is 40 mph, but you’re in a hurry so you’re driving 50 mph, 10 mph over the speed limit.
In all other ways, you’re correctly following road signs and traffic rules. You enter an intersection where cross traffic has stop signs but you do not. Suddenly, your car is hit broadside by another vehicle crossing the intersection after that car failed to stop at the stop sign.
In this scenario, you were driving over the speed limit, but the other driver failed to stop at a stop sign and crashed into your car. Eventually, it’s determined that you are 25% at fault for the accident, and the other driver is 75% at fault. Let’s say the total damages for the accident are calculated to be $80,000.
Under Minnesota’s comparative fault rule, 25% (the percentage of fault assigned to you) will be subtracted from that $80,000. This means you will collect 75% of the total, or $60,000.
If you have additional questions about the particular facts in your case and how fault might be determined, talk to a skilled and experienced Stillwater car accident lawyer at Tyroler Injury Law.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
In a Washington County car accident lawsuit, your attorney will need to prove that the other party acted negligently when they caused the accident in which you were injured. A defendant can be a person, a business, an insurance company, a government entity, or any combination of these.
To prove negligence, your attorney will have to prove 4 elements in your lawsuit. These include:
- Duty: The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal “duty of care” to ensure that an environment or location was safe.
- Breach: A plaintiff must show that the defendant breached this duty by doing, or failing to do, something that a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.
- Causation: A plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions, or inaction, caused the injuries to another person.
- Damages: Damages mean that there’s a monetary way of compensating a plaintiff for their injuries and property damage.
Choosing the Best Stillwater Car Accident Attorney
Skill, experience, and a track record of success make all the difference.
Choosing the right Washington County car accident lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make. Not all attorneys are created equal. Some have more experience, skill, and determination than others. Attorneys Isaac Tyroler and Rachel Sperling Leonard are among the best and the brightest.
They are compassionate with clients and understands that many have been through traumatic experiences. At the same time, They are aggressive negotiators and fierce litigators. They take each case personally and are entirely focused on getting their clients the justice they deserve.
They are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with insurance companies to negotiate a favorable settlement or litigate a case in front of a judge and jury when necessary. They will not stop until they have achieved the best possible outcome for every client.
To learn more about what their satisfied clients have to say, you can read these client testimonials.
Mr. Tyroler and Ms. Sperling Leonard have been practicing law for more than a decade and are admitted to the bar in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as in U.S. District Court. They have received the Super Lawyers Rising Star Award multiple times and are frequent speakers at legal seminars.
FAQs about Car Accident Lawsuits
Our car accident attorney in Stillwater, MN, answers 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. All injury victims, whether or not they survived the wreck, have the same legal and financial rights. Generally, the estate administrator designated in the victim’s will may file a legal action. In other cases, a close relative, like a surviving spouse or child, has this power.
Compensation in a wrongful death claim is different. Minnesota law usually limits these damages to pecuniary losses, such as:
- Decedent’s final medical bills
- Lost future financial support
- Burial, funeral, and other final expenses
- Lost future emotional support
- Decedent’s pain and suffering.
Surviving family members may also be entitled to compensation for their own grief and suffering. Frequently, a Stillwater car crash lawyer must file a separate legal action in this area.
Many of these items are difficult to determine. How can anyone put a price tag on something like lost future emotional support? So, in many cases, Washington County car accident lawyers often partner with accountants, psychologists, and other outside professionals.
What is the average car accident settlement amount?
Because every case is different, there is no “average” settlement that a Stillwater 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?
Not surprisingly, according to the National Safety Council, fatal crashes are more common on weekends. Generally, purposeful drivers, such as those going to and from work or school, are better drivers. Most car crashes happen in intersections that are within a few miles of a victim’s home or workplace.
Nonfatal wrecks are more common on weekdays between about 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Most people are leaving work or school at this time. Additionally, during much of the year, the sun is setting during this time period.
A brief word about environmental conditions. Sunlight glare, wet roads, and other environmental conditions may contribute to car crashes. But driver error causes almost all car wrecks. The duty of care requires motorists to slow down and be more careful when conditions are less than ideal. Unfortunately for victims, many drivers ignore this responsibility.
Additionally, car wrecks can happen to anyone at any time. If one browses through Google news stories, there’s no pattern to car crashes. They happen whenever drivers are negligent.
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. Settlements often happen faster than cases where litigation is required, but settling can result in less money. Your Stillwater car accident attorney can advise you about the potential time frame for your particular case.
Can I get reimbursed for renting a car after a crash?
The world keeps turning even after the most serious car accident. The kids need to get to school, the family needs groceries, and the list goes on.
The tortfeasor’s insurance company is financially responsible for vehicle repair or replacement. Usually, different insurance company divisions handle property damage and personal injury claims. As a result, the property damage portion of a claim often settles much more quickly than the injury portion.
However, the insurance company’s first offer may be inadequate. The cheapest approach, the only approach an adjuster approves, usually isn’t the best. For example, if a family loses a minivan in a wreck, a compact car is not an adequate replacement.
Stillwater personal injury lawyers stand up for victims in these situations. We ensure that victims return to the same place they occupied before a wreck. If the family had a new minivan, it needs another new minivan, not a used one, and indeed not a smaller vehicle.
If I’m injured in a car accident and self-employed, how are lost wages calculated?
Some car crash victims are entirely self-employed. Many others are Uber drivers or have other side hustles.
Establishing income is relatively straightforward. Prior tax returns usually do the job. That being said, historical records often don’t reflect current economic conditions. For most self-employed people, it’s feast or famine. So, a Stillwater car crash lawyer often must adjust historical figures accordingly.
Determining the amount of lost work, or more specifically, lost productivity, is more complex. That’s especially true since many recovering victims have good days and bad days. On a good day, they may be able to work a total of eight hours. On a bad day, they may barely be able to get out of bed.
Many attorneys use the initial hospitalization length to help determine lost wages. For example, if Michelle spent a month in the hospital, it might take five times that long, or five months, before she feels well enough to return to work full-time. On the other hand, if Michelle had spent a week in the hospital, she might have had five weeks of lost wages.
Other factors come into play as well. For example, most victims cannot work on their physical therapy days. Instead, they’re getting ready for PT, in PT, or recovering from it. Additionally, as mentioned, many victims have good days and bad days for months or even years.
Contact Our Stillwater 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.