Common Issues In Minneapolis Truck Accident Cases
Overall, the number of deaths and serious injuries related to motor vehicle collisions has leveled off in recent years. But the large truck rate has been steadily increasing since 2009, and is now almost as high as it was in 1975 when record-keeping began.
Semi-trucks often weigh at least 80,000 pounds and carry hundreds of gallons of highly-combustible diesel fuel. This combination often sets the stage for catastrophic injuries. Additionally, bus accidents often cause dozens or even hundreds of serious injuries, because there are so many victims in these wrecks.
Because of the nature of these incidents, they are highly complex and require the assistance of experienced attorneys.
First Party Liability in Minnesota Truck Wrecks
Most noncommercial drivers in the Gopher State have a duty of reasonable care. Basically, this duty requires them to drive defensively and obey “the rules of the road.” If their conduct while operating a motor vehicle falls substantially below this standard, they may be legally responsible for damages.
Truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and other operators who transport people and/or goods for a fee have a higher duty of care in Minnesota, because they are common carriers under the law. In fact, these drivers are practically insurers of safe conduct from one point to the next. For example, a noncommercial driver has a duty to drive slowly in the rain, but a commercial driver arguably must not drive in heavy rain at all.
Commercial operators are also subject to the negligence per se doctrine. Many of these tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a safety law, such as failing to comply with a Minnesota or federal HOS (Hours Of Service) requirement, and
- The violation substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s injuries.
In some cases, negligence per se may only be a presumption of negligence.
Evidence in Minneapolis Large Truck Crashes
Eyewitnesses, including the participants themselves, are usually the major sources of evidence in car crash cases. But not all eyewitnesses are willing to come forward, and for one reason or another, not all of them provide compelling testimony before a jury. So, attorneys often look to other sources of evidence as well, such as:
- Surveillance Video: Security cameras from nearby businesses often cover many intersections, as do red-light cameras. Such evidence is particularly significant in hit-and-run claims.
- Event Data Recorder: All newer cars have an EDR, which is essentially like an airplane’s black box. These devices measure and record important information like vehicle speed, steering angle, and brake application in the moments just before the crash.
- Electronic Logging Device: The ELD mandate should take effect in the spring of 2018. This gadget provides nearly foolproof evidence of the amount of rest a commercial driver had in the hours before the crash.
Minneapolis victim/plaintiffs must use evidence to establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Damages in Minnesota Truck Crash Cases
Because of the serious nature of the injuries, compensation in these claims is often substantial. It includes money for medical bills and other economic damages as well as pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages.
Additionally, under the respondeat superior rule, the tortfeasor’s employer is often partially responsible for damages. This doctrine applies if the Minnesota tortfeasor was an employee who was acting within the course and scope of employment at the time. Both these prongs are very broadly defined. Respondeat superior and other third party liability theories are especially significant in catastrophic injury claims, because the tortfeasor may not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate the victim/plaintiff.
Contact an Aggressive Attorney
Large truck crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Minnesota, contact the Gunther Law Office today, because you have a limited amount of time to act.