Who Could be Held Liable for Merging Crashes in Minnesota?

sign for mergingMerging with other traffic can be dangerous, particularly when you are entering a highway and other vehicles are traveling at high speed. A slow-moving vehicle colliding with a fast-moving vehicle is a recipe for severe injuries.

Below, learn more about merging and fault for these accidents.

General Rules on Merging

There are certain steps drivers can take to avoid a crash when merging or when you are approaching a vehicle attempting to merge in front of you. Here are some general rules on this traffic maneuver that could help keep you safe:

  • Merge your vehicle gradually into oncoming traffic. This prevents other drivers from thinking you are going to cut them off and it keeps other vehicles at a safe distance.
  • Drive at a safe distance. When you are already on the highway, be sure to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. This provides space for merging vehicles to maneuver when entering the highway.
  • Use your turn signal. Even though you might assume other drivers know you are merging onto the highway, you should still use your turn signal.
  • Switch your lane of travel. If you are already traveling on the highway you should switch your lane of travel when approaching an entrance ramp. This allows merging vehicles more space to merge.
  • Do not stop in the merging lane. This is incredibly dangerous. You should only stop if it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, simply slow down to give yourself more time to merge.

Even if you follow these rules, other drivers may not, particularly if they are distracted.

Fault in Different Scenarios

When it comes to determining fault in a merging crash, it is often the driver of the merging vehicle who is held liable for the crash.

Why? In most instances, the merging driver is at fault for failing to yield the right of way to traffic already on the highway.

There are other circumstances where the merging vehicle might not be held liable for the crash. One such scenario is if a vehicle already on the highway erratically enters the merging lane and strikes the merging vehicle before it even enters the highway.

Zipper Merging

Zipper merging has become a popular merging method on the highways of Minnesota and across the country. Zipper merging is a change from the norm of early merging, which often leads to more crashes and longer backups.

A zipper merge asks drivers to remain in the lane that is ending or closing until they get to the point where the merge occurs. The drivers are then expected to take turns letting vehicles into the lane that is still open.

A zipper merge provides the following benefits to drivers:

  • Reduces the difference in speeds between any two lanes of traffic
  • Reduces the occurrence of road rage
  • Reduces the overall length of a traffic backup
  • Reduces congestion at interchanges on freeways
  • Creates an idea of fairness as drivers see that all lanes are moving at the same speed

Reasons Merging Crashes Happen and How to Avoid Them

The most common reasons why merging crashes happen include the following:

  • A driver makes a lane change without using his or her turn signal
  • A driver merges onto the highway by going too slow or too fast
  • A driver merges onto a highway and crosses over multiple lanes
  • A driver merges by cutting off other drivers
  • A driver is distracted while merging or while driving near an on-ramp
  • A driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A driver fails to move to an adjacent lane away from the on-ramp

Injured in a Merging Crash? Call TSR Injury Law Today

Have you or a loved one suffered an injury in a merging crash?

It can be challenging to determine fault in such a crash, especially if you were the merging driver.

Consult with an experienced Bloomington car accident lawyer from TSR Injury Law about your claim.

Call us at (612) TSR-TIME to schedule a consultation.

Nate Maus and Nate Bjerke Secured $750,000 for Motorcycle Crash Victim

gavel behind lady justiceAttorneys Nate Maus and Nate Bjerke recently obtained a great result for a client severely injured in a motorcycle crash.  Initially, it looked like there was no hope the injured motorcyclist would get justice.  The investigating officer and state Patrol accident reconstructionist, along with several witnesses, placed the blame for the crash on our motorcycle driving client.

The case was originally handled by another firm who reached out to Nate Maus after the insurance company for the other driver denied liability and offered $0.00.  TSR Injury Law took over the case and renewed an investigation into the crash.

We suspected something wasn’t right about the State Patrol’s investigation.  We located previously unidentified witnesses and uncovered new information to refute the findings in the State Patrol’s investigation.  The new evidence showed the crash was not our client’s fault.  As a result, Attorneys Maus and Bjerke secured a settlement of $750,000.00 for their well deserving client.

TSR Injury Law Sponsors Elementary School for The Sheridan Story to Help Fight Child Hunger

filling a box with cansLast spring, our firm sponsored Cedar Ridge Elementary School for The Sheridan Story program, which provides nourishing weekend meals to children and families who do not have reliable access to food.

Food is gathered, packed and delivered to schools each week. Volunteers distribute the food discreetly at the end of the week by placing it in their backpacks while the children are not in the halls.

Approximately four to five pounds of food is provided directly to the children. The program distributes approximately 23,000 meals to children in the community every week.

The organization is committed to only using high-quality food to retain dignity for children and their families. They consulted dieticians and nutritionists from Allina Health and Saint Paul Public Schools to select healthy food. They purchase almost all their food from reputable food banks, wholesalers and manufacturers.

The risk of hunger in our community is very real, as more than 200,000 children in the state live with food insecurity. The Sheridan Story and its partners have sponsored 245 schools. 

We are proud to sponsor a program that is making a difference in our community.

Am I Required to Say Anything to the Insurance Company?

in pain while on the phoneMany car crash victims do not know the dangers of providing too much information to an insurance company after an accident. They may think they need to talk to the insurance company to get things resolved. They may also be desperate for compensation because of mounting medical bills, wage loss or property damage.

Below, review some best practices when talking to an insurance company to help protect your best interests.

General Rules on Speaking to Insurers

It is important to note that you are under no obligation to give a detailed statement to insurance adjusters right after an accident, particularly an adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company. You can wait to obtain legal representation and have your lawyer deal with the insurance company on your behalf. You will not be hurting your chances of recovering compensation by declining to comment on the accident right away.

What Should You Say?

If you decide to talk to an insurance company, remember that their goal is to say as little as possible. This is true even if it is your own insurance company.

Adjusters are fishing for information and evidence that can be used against you to claim you are not actually injured, you are partially to blame for the crash, or you are suffering from a pre-existing injury. Anything you say could end up hurting your claim, even though you may not realize it as you are speaking.

If you still decide to answer questions, be sure to only answer what has been asked. Do not offer any opinions as to how you think the accident happened and do not provide any additional information. For example, stick to things like the date, time and location of the accident.

It is generally best to refuse to give a recorded statement. Insurers want you to agree to have your statement recorded to limit the value of your claim based on what you say.  There is no legal mandate that a statement has to be recorded.

Dangers of Revealing too much Information

It is dangerous to reveal too much information to the insurance company because it can easily be used against you to limit the amount of compensation they may offer.

Even if the crash was not your fault, insurance companies will do their best to use what you say against you, possibly pinning fault on you for the crash. They know how to act like your friend or just someone who is genuinely concerned about your well-being. They know you are vulnerable and may be more likely to trust someone who acts friendly.

Despite what you see in catchy TV commercials and hear in advertisements, insurance companies, even your own, are not out for your best interests. They cannot stay in business unless they make money, and they cannot do that by paying out fair compensation for every claim.

Injured in a Car Accident? Call TSR Injury Law Today

Have you or a loved one been injured in a Minnesota car crash?

It may be best to say very little to the insurance company until you speak to an experienced Bloomington car accident attorney.

We understand how stressful the days and weeks following a car accident can be, especially when dealing with insurance companies. We have helped many crash victims recover fair compensation, including a recovery of $597,000 for a driver who was hit by a driver who ran a red light.

Call to schedule a consultation to learn more about legal options. Phone: (612) TSR-TIME.

Partner Chuck Slane Helped Secure Significant Compensation for Crash Victim with Chronic Back Injury

symbols of the lawOur firm recently represented the victim of a crash caused by a driver who ran a red light. The impact caused the victim’s spine to be whipped back and forth, ripping a disc and causing significant pain. Unfortunately, this injury became chronic.

The insurance company reviewed the claim and offered just $5,000 to the victim. A top offer of $25,000.00 was made days before trial.  The insurer said it was only a soft-tissue injury and it should get better.

However, TSR Injury Law partner, Chuck Slane, took the case to trial, where a jury determined the victim’s damages were worth $597,000.

Learn more about the results we have achieved for our clients on our case results page.

Have you been injured in a car crash? Call today to set up a free consultation to find out how we may be able to help you. (612) TSR-TIME

Compensation for Passengers Injured in a Minnesota Car Crash

driver and passenger on the roadIf you were injured in a car crash in Minnesota, you can pursue compensation from your own car insurance. What happens if you were a passenger in the accident?

Below, the experienced lawyers of TSR Injury Law explain how car crash victims may be compensated from their insurance policies after sustaining injuries in a collision. Find out if you might be eligible for compensation for your injuries – request a free, no-obligation consultation with our team today.

Who Pays Your No-Fault Benefits?

Minnesota follows a no-fault system for car crash claims. No-fault means personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that allows $20,000.00 in medical and $20,000.00 in wage loss benefits. It does not matter which party is at fault for the crash as each driver can pursue PIP compensation from their own insurance company. Again, the PIP no-fault side pays medical bills, wage loss and other contractually allowed benefits. Please note, the at fault party also has legal responsibilities above and beyond the PIP coverages.

Even though they were not in their own vehicles during the collision, passengers can obtain no-fault coverage and benefits from their own no-fault insurance coverage. For example, if you are a passenger in a friend’s car that gets rear-ended. You would make a PIP claim to your policy on your car still parked at home. Your rates do not go up and there is no legal consequence for being forced to use your own auto insurance. You must make a claim to your insurance company within six months of the accident, but it is best to file a claim as soon as possible. Even a few day delay can allow an insurance company to question the claim.

If you do not have your own vehicle with insurance at the time of the crash, you can file a claim with the no-fault insurance policy of a resident relative. For example, if you live with your brother, his car policy will provide for no-fault benefits.

If that is not an option, you can file a claim with the PIP policy covering the vehicle you were in when the crash occurred.

The only other option for passengers for obtaining no-fault coverage is to file a claim with the state’s Assigned Risk Plan. This only works for people who do not own a car without insurance, do not reside with anyone (not only a relative) who owns a car without insurance and if you were a passenger in a non-owned uninsured car. There are several legal barriers to this free PIP coverage that TSR Injury Law can explain with a free consultation

PIP Coverage Requirements

Licensed drivers in Minnesota are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. State minimums for PIP coverage include:

  • A total of $40,000 per person, per accident (stacking may be available that can double or triple these coverages)
  • Up to $20,000 to be used for medical expenses
  • Up to $20,000 to be used for non-medical expenses
  • If the accident results in death, $5,000 to be used for funeral expenses

Additional Coverage from the Driver’s Policy

You may also be able to obtain compensation from the at fault driver’s liability coverage if any of the following apply to your crash:

  • Death
  • $4,000 or more in medical expenses (do not include MRI or X-Ray costs)
  • Permanent injury
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • 60 or more missed days of work

Approved claims are paid out through the at fault driver’s liability insurance coverage first. If this coverage is insufficient to cover your damages, claims may be paid through your own (or a resident relative’s policy) underinsured motorist coverage, up to the policy maximums. If the at fault driver does not have insurance, then you can make a claim under your own policy for uninsured motorist coverage.

What About Filing a Lawsuit?

Since Minnesota is a no-fault state, it has restrictions on when crash victims can sue a driver, and these restrictions apply to passengers as well. You must meet one of the thresholds to pursue a bodily injury claim. Again, the thresholds are: death, or $4,000 in medical bills (not including scans or X-Rays), or become disabled for at least 60 days, or suffered some sort of permanent injury or be permanently disfigured.

Certain crash scenarios set up difficult family dynamics. All claims are handled through auto insurance, but sometimes passengers may not want to sue if the driver was a family member or close friend. Even if there is no personal financial liability from the driver, a passenger may not want to “sue” or even “make a claim” against a relative driver.

Contact Our Licensed Lawyers for Help

If you were injured in a car crash, you may be eligible to seek compensation for the damages you have suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. TSR Injury Law’s Bloomington car accident attorneys help victims pursue the maximum compensation available.

Request a free, no-obligation consultation today and learn what legal options you may have for pursuing compensation for your injuries. We charge no upfront fees and payment is only owed if we recover compensation for you.

Reach us by phone anytime, 24/7. (612) TSR-TIME or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form.

Do I Still Have a Case if I Was Not Wearing a Seat Belt?

woman in winter coat using seat beltSome car crash victims may assume they are unable to file a claim because they were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. The problem is, the issue can be a lot more complicated than that.

Discussing the crash with an experienced Minneapolis car accident lawyer from TSR Injury Law may be in your best interest because you may still be able to pursue compensation.

Minnesota Seat Belt Laws

Minnesota’s seat belt law requires that all drivers and passengers – including those in the back seat – be buckled up with a seat belt or appropriate child car seat. This is a primary law, so drivers can be stopped if a law enforcement officer observes a violation of this law. The driver or passenger may be issued the ticket, depending on his or her age. These tickets and fees can surpass $100.  This is the criminal side of the seat belt law.

Even though it is against the law in Minnesota to be transported in a vehicle without wearing a seat belt, Minnesota civil law prohibits using evidence of not using a seat belt in personal injury or property damage cases. In other words, insurance companies cannot add fault to you for not wearing a seatbelt.  One exception to the civil rule is when the case concerns a manufacturing defect in a seat belt or child passenger restraint system. The claim is then built upon the seatbelt and therefore usage is part of the claim.

Arguments Made by Insurance Companies

Insurance companies may still try to reduce any settlement offer they make you or deny your claim outright for failure to wear a seat belt. The insurance company may argue that you were partially liable for your damages. It might argue that you would not have been injured had you been wearing your seat belt or that you made your injuries worse than they would have been by not wearing your seat belt at the time of the accident.

Some pieces of evidence that may help strengthen your claim include:

  • Medical records or statements from medical experts that reveal that your injuries were not due to non-seat belt use
  • Dash cam recordings that show even if you had been restrained, you still would have been injured
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts who can explain your injuries were not more severe because you were unrestrained
  • Photographs of the accident that show its severity
  • Footage from surveillance cameras near the scene of the accident

Comparative Fault in a Car Crash Claim

If your driving negligence contributed to the accident, Minnesota’s comparative fault law may apply. According to this law, you are not barred from recovering compensation for a claim even if you were partially negligent, provided your degree of negligence is not greater than the defendant’s degree of negligence. As long as you are less than 50 percent at fault, you may make a claim. However, your award is reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. Therefore, if you are found 20 percent at fault and suffered $10,000 in damages, your recovery would be reduced by $2,000 to $8,000.

Contact TSR Injury Law for Help with Your Claim

If you were injured in a collision and are concerned about how not wearing a seat belt may impact your claim, the personal injury team at TSR Injury Law is available to answer your questions.

Our lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your claim and explain your options. We charge no upfront fees and work on a contingency. If there is no recovery, there is no fee, so there is no risk to you either way.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. TSR Injury Law: (612) TSR-TIME.