This is the next post in our discussion on the rights of Minnesota accident victims. Our last article discussed the need to immediately seek medical care after being involved in an accident. By immediately seeking care you can help protect yourself from arguments that you injured yourself in some other way, rather than being hurt in the accident.* In this article we will discuss another important topic – the fact that comparative fault laws may allow a victim to recover damages even if he or she was partially responsible for the accident. If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our Rochester personal injury lawyers are ready to assist you; however, even if you have a substantial (but not the majority) responsibility for causing the accident, we still can help you. We also service Owatonna as well as other areas.
We have previously discussed how comparative fault impacts wrongful death cases in our state. These concepts apply to non-lethal injuries as well. Under Minnesota law, accident victims may be compensated for their injuries as long as they were not more than 50 % responsible for the accident. Determinations of the extent (if any) to which a victim was at fault are ultimately made by a jury if a case cannot be settled before trial. A victim’s recovery is reduced proportionately to his or her share of fault for the accident. For example, if a car accident victim suffers $100,000 worth of damages and is 40% responsible for the wreck, he or she would be entitled to recover $60,000 as compensation ($100,000 minus 40%). Again, and most importantly, a victim cannot recover damages when bearing more than 50% of the responsibility for an accident.
Proving at trial the extent to which each party is at fault is a complicated matter. For example, if Driver “A” hits Driver “B” while B is turning against a red light, a jury would normally assume that “B” is fully responsible for the accident. However, if it can be proven through witness testimony or cellphone records that “A” was distracted by talking or texting on her cell phone, it is highly likely that a jury may be persuaded to conclude that “A” should have avoided the accident by paying proper attention to her driving. Under such a scenario, jurors can oftentimes be convinced to assign at least a substantial portion of the blame to “A,” impacting the extent to which “A” recovers damages or even tilting the recovery to “B.” Hiring a lawyer familiar with these types of issues can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
Our Rochester personal injury attorneys have very extensive experience in arguing issues of comparative fault. We have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of our clients and take great pride in the level of service that we are able provide to our clients. We also serve the following SE Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”