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St. Paul Minnesota Car Accidents Legal Blog

Wear your seat belt to protect yourself in a crash

Safety belts were designed to keep you safe when you're in a crash. Most people know that they should wear them, but they also know that the risk of a crash is relatively low. As such, many people believe that it's not always a necessity to wear them.

Unfortunately, even if you're just taking a short joyride around your neighborhood, there is a risk of being involved in a collision. If you aren't wearing your seat belt, there is a higher risk of a few things happening, one of which is being thrown from the vehicle.

Even one drink can lead to a motor vehicle accident

Some people in Minnesota will find any reason to have a drink. It might be at a party, after a long day at work or to complement a meal. Unfortunately, sometimes a person who has consumed too much alcohol tries to get behind the wheel of a car. It is important to understand how alcohol affects a person's driving abilities.

Even if a person's blood alcohol concentration is below the legal limit, their ability to drive could still be compromised. If a person's BAC is 0.02 percent, they may experience a decline in their ability to track moving objects, such as other drivers, and they may not be able to divide their attention between two or more tasks. If a person's BAC is 0.05 percent, their coordination and ability to track moving targets may be reduced, they may find it more difficult to steer their vehicle and they may not be able to quickly respond to emergency situations.

What is the process for obtaining uninsured motorist benefits?

Motorists in Minnesota are required to carry uninsured motorist insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage works by providing benefits to motorists who are injured by an at-fault driver that does not have car insurance or who has coverage, but it does not satisfy state-mandated minimum liability requirements. However, there is a process that motorists must follow to obtain these benefits. Keep in mind that this is only a general overview of this process, and state law may vary. In addition, states that have no-fault insurance laws may require motorists to seek an order from the court before they are able to obtain uninsured motorist benefits or underinsured motorist benefits.

The process begins when a motorist is struck by an uninsured motorist. Following that, the motorist will file a claim for benefits with the at-fault driver's insurance company. The motorist will let their insurance company know of the incident. Next, the motorist will be reimbursed from the at-fault party's insurance company, but this reimbursement will not be enough to cover the damages the motorist sustained in the crash.

Number of fatal motor vehicle accidents rises in 2018

The number of fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2018 is in, and it is truly sobering. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 2018 saw a six percent increase in fatal traffic accidents compared to 2017. There were 380 traffic deaths in Minnesota in 2018. October saw the most fatal collisions, with 46 individuals losing their lives in motor vehicle accidents. Speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving were often factors in these crashes.

Alcohol played a role in 121 fatal motor vehicle accidents in Minnesota in 2018, while speeding was a factor in 100 accidents. In addition, distracted driving was a factor in 27 fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Helmets may save lives, but motorcyclists can still suffer TBIs

Some motorcyclists in Minnesota dutifully wear a helmet every time they hit the road. However, others are not so cautious and ride without wearing a helmet. This is very dangerous, as motorcyclists have a high risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury if struck by an automobile.

A person could suffer a TBI if they experience a sudden jolt or blow to the head. Thus, if a motorcyclist is hit by a car, the impact of the collision could force them to go flying off their bike, landing in the street. This could lead to head injuries, and, while wearing a helmet may help, even helmeted motorcyclists could suffer a TBI if the crash is bad enough.

Do all fire departments install safety seats for parents?

There is a suggestion for most new parents, which is to go to the fire department to have their child's car seat installed if they are not sure how to install it safely. However, this isn't always the right thing to do, and there are more factors to consider.

One thing people don't always know is that not all fire stations, police stations or even hospitals or doctors' offices have a certified child passenger safety technician on site. This person, with the right certifications, would have up-to-date information on how to install a car seat correctly. Without the certification, they very well may be able to install it correctly, but there would be no guarantees of safety.

Can you sue after a car accident if you were partially at fault?

Sometimes, determining fault in a car crash in Minnesota is relatively straightforward. For example, say you are waiting at a red light when you are rear-ended by a drunk driver. It is likely that the drunk driver will be considered at-fault in the crash.

However, other times there are many factors at play in a car accident. For example, say you are driving 10 mph over the speed limit when you are hit head-on by a distracted driver. It may seem likely that the distracted driver should be held liable for the crash, but, at the same time, you were speeding. In situations like this, you may wonder if you can pursue a lawsuit after a car accident if you were partially at fault.

Fatigued drivers can cause serious motor vehicle accidents

Drivers of large commercial vehicles must be very careful to avoid causing an accident. This is because a motor vehicle accident involving a commercial vehicle weighing tens of thousands of pounds can be very catastrophic. Commercial vehicle drivers must obtain a special license to operate their vehicle, and like all motorists, must drive with due care.

However, commercial vehicle drivers -- especially those who drive semi-trucks -- often have a financial incentive to make as many trips as they can as quickly as possible. Despite federal regulations limiting how long a commercial vehicle driver may be on the road before being required to take a rest break, many commercial vehicle drivers in Minnesota will ignore these rules and drive while fatigued. This is a very dangerous practice not just for them, but for everyone else on the road.

Where to turn after a car accident

The snow has started falling in Minnesota and that means residents will be driving in winter weather conditions for the coming months. While most motorists will drive carefully when roads are slick with snow and ice, there will always be those who ignore the dangerous road conditions and drive recklessly. When this happens, a negligent driver can cause a car accident that injures or kills another person.

Car accidents can cost more than just one's health - they can have a significant financial impact on a person as well. Depending on the severity of the injury, a person could face tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. If the injury prevents the victim from working, they may be unable to afford their daily living expenses. And, if the victim is killed, their family will have to go on without the income and support their loved one provided.

What should motorists do to avoid causing a pedestrian accident?

Winter may be coming, but pedestrians and bicyclists will still be on Minnesota roads. According to the Office of Traffic Safety, every year from 2011 to 2015, an average of 35 pedestrians and seven bicyclists lose their lives after being struck by a vehicle. Combined, they constituted almost 11 percent of all traffic deaths. Most of these collisions -- 72 percent -- took place in urban parts of the state.

While it is important for bicyclists and pedestrians to follow the rules of the road, motorists must pay attention to everyone in their vicinity to avoid a pedestrian accident. The following safety tips should be followed by motorists who may encounter bicyclists or pedestrians on the road.

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