Car accidents represent a leading cause of death and injury in the U.S., and Minnesota is no exception. Tens of thousands of crashes happen in the state every year, killing hundreds of drivers and passengers and injuring thousands more. Each of these crashes has the potential to turn the lives of its victims upside down. The physical, emotional, and financial pain of a car accident can feel especially intense when the accident wasn’t the victims’ fault.
Fortunately, Minnesotans severely injured in car accidents and the families of those tragically killed have legal rights seek to compensation for the harm the accidents caused. The compassionate, knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Patterson Dahlberg Injury Lawyers can help. Contact us today to learn more.
Patterson Dahlberg – Lawyers for Car Accident Victims
Patterson Dahlberg Injury Lawyers is the premier personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm in Southern Minnesota. The injury lawyers of Patterson Dahlberg have recovered more than $120,000,000 in settlements and judgments for their clients. The four attorneys in our Rochester office have dedicated their practice to serving the interests of injured Minnesotans.
No one should suffer because of someone else’s careless or reckless actions. When tragedy strikes, victims need the best legal representation possible to ensure they hold wrongdoers accountable and receive adequate compensation to rebuild their lives. At Patterson Dahlberg, we take pride in providing exceptional client service. We keep our clients up-to-date on the work we do for them, and we always respond promptly to calls, emails, and text messages.
Minnesota Car Accidents By The Numbers
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) collects and publishes detailed records of motor vehicle crashes around the state. They paint a distressing picture. Hundreds of people die, and tens of thousands more get injured, in traffic accidents every year on Minnesota roads. Olmsted County sees a significant portion of those.
OTS also reports the “first harmful event” in statewide car accidents. The vast majority (about two-thirds in 2017) of all car accidents in Minnesota involve collisions between two vehicles. Collisions with fixed objects and single-car accidents ranking a far distant second and third in terms of their precipitating events.
OTS data also offers insight into who is most at-risk for accidents in the state. Young people constitute a disproportionately large share of motor vehicle accident victims. Men represent a majority of the drivers involved in all crashes, and in 2017 made up three-quarters of those killed in car accidents. Beyond those risk factors, a range of variables contributes to car accidents in the state, including driver carelessness, driver distraction, road surface conditions, and drug and alcohol use.
Legal Liability for Car Accidents in Minnesota
Minnesota is a so-called “no-fault” auto insurance state. By law, motorists must carry “personal injury protection” (PIP) insurance covering themselves for at least $40,000 in personal injury-related expenses incurred in connection with a car accident, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. PIP coverage will typically pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and certain services you need when you’ve been injured (such as housecleaning). It is the primary insurance coverage for any personal injuries Minnesota drivers and certain of their passengers sustain in a car accident.
That does not mean that “fault” is irrelevant in Minnesota car accidents, however. PIP insurance only covers personal injury-related expenses (i.e., not property damage), and the costs and losses associated with severe injuries and wrongful death often exceed the limits of a typical PIP policy. When car accident victims deserve compensation beyond that provided by their own PIP coverage, they often have the right to take legal action for damages against “at-fault” parties. Those parties may include:
- Other drivers (and their employers, if applicable). With two-thirds of all accidents involving collisions with other vehicles, it’s a good bet one of the two drivers is at fault. The victims of that driver’s poor or reckless decisions behind the wheel can hold the driver legally liable for damages. The employer of a driver who caused an accident while on the job may also face liability for its employees’ actions, depending on the circumstances.
- Municipal governments and road agencies. As the statistics linked above show, road conditions contribute to a significant number of car accidents every year in Minnesota. Of course, with our harsh winters we can’t expect public roads to remain in pristine condition year-in, year-out. Nevertheless, sometimes the government entity responsible for designing, building, and maintaining roads in minimally safe condition does not do its job, resulting in car accidents that should never have happened. Victims of these accidents may have the right to hold those government entities and/or their contractors legally liable for damages.
- Auto and auto part manufacturers. Car and car-parts makers have an obligation not to place defective products into the “stream of commerce.” When they violate this duty, and someone gets hurt because of a product’s defect, manufacturers may have liability under Minnesota law.
- Alcohol vendors. Minnesota takes drunk driving prevention seriously. One way it tackles the problem is through its so-called “dram shop law,” which holds alcohol sellers responsible for “illegally selling” alcohol to a person whose intoxication leads to an accident that injured or kills someone.
Of course, this is not a complete list. Facts, circumstances, and legal liability differs widely from accident-to-accident. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced car accident attorney on your side to investigate how your accident happened and whose actions may be to blame. In the typical car accident case, victims of other people’s negligence or reckless conduct can usually expect to recover compensation for:
- Present and future medical expenses;
- Lost wages and loss of ability to earn an income;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Punitive damages in those cases in which the defendant showed “deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others.”
Your Rochester, Minnesota Car Accident Lawyers
Minnesota law entitles car accident victims and their families to recover significant compensation in many cases. Don’t wait to find out if someone owes you damages after a car accident. Contact the skilled car accident attorneys at Patterson Dahlberg Injury Lawyers right away to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation case consultation with a member of our team. You can reach us at 507-424-3000 or visit us online.