Isanti County Jury Rules In Favor of Small Business Owner Injured at Area Ice Arena

The Law Offices of Schroeder & Mandel P.A.
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St. Paul, MN 55117
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Isanti County Jury Rules In Favor of Small Business Owner Injured at Area Ice Arena

(Cambridge, MN) – Friday, August 13th an Isanti County jury ruled in favor of an area building contractor who sustained a serious ankle injury while attending a pre-construction meeting at the Cambridge Isanti Arena Corporation ice arena in 2013.
Independent contractor Donald Barth was invited to a pre-construction meeting on the arena’s second floor. Unbeknownst to Barth, as he walked to the far end of the second floor he fell through the suspended ceiling. At the time, there was no railing, wall or fence to separate the hardwood floor from the drop off to the suspended ceiling. No one from the arena warned Barth of the hazard. The privately owned and insured arena has since installed a guard railing. The jury was never informed of this subsequent repair/safety measure taken by the arena after the fall based on a Minnesota law keeping that information from the jury.

Richard Schroeder, Barth’s attorney led the case through multiple attempts by the Cambridge Isanti Arena Corporation to dismiss the claim. “For Mr. Barth and his small business, it’s unfortunate that this process dragged on as long as it did. The attorney for the arena corporation blamed Mr. Barth, and their insurance company made no offer to resolve this dispute.” Schroeder added, “However, once the story was told to the jury over the course of 4 days, they determined that the arena’s negligence led to this preventable incident.”

According to court documents, Barth will be reimbursed (by the arena’s insurance company ) for his medical expenses and his lost earnings while he was recuperating.

Richard Schroeder is managing partner at the Law Offices of Schroeder & Mandel, of St. Paul, Minnesota. Schroeder, recognized as a Super Lawyer by the Minnesota legal community and Mpls/St. Paul Magazine 2008-2016 is licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Georgia.

Dashcam Reminds us to SLOW down when passing an accident scene.

This is compelling, rare dashcam video of multiple crashes occurring during dangerous driving conditions. The cause? Folks who couldn’t be bothered to slow down as they pass a stopped car/accident scene.  Watch to see how the truck drivers are some of the biggest speed offenders. And these are drivers who’ve been trained to safely operate large trucks. As you’ll see, the scene involved many vehicles of all sizes, including an 18 wheeler. This happened just last December, in Montana, and will be the ongoing work of insurance company personnel and lawyers for years to come.

Finally, Nursing Home Admissions’ Fine Print Receives Congressional Scrutiny

Care needs for our aging population is at an all-time high. While the days of an older person “living out their days” in a nursing home are long gone, we as a society still have a need for such care. Those in nursing homes truly are in need of round-the-clock care. Given the person’s situation, there may be no other way to remain safe.

So a family finds the loved one a place in a nursing home and begins to learn the rules and laws that pertain to this highly regulated form of health care delivery. Feeling re-assured that the loved one will be cared for, the family convenes in the nursing home manager’s conference room to sign papers.

These papers are legally binding documents.

They should be read and understood before they are signed.

Why? Because one of them, written in sophisticated legal terminology, will be the family’s acknowledgment of the process of arbitration that governs complaints against the nursing home and its employees. Members of Congress want to change this.

Actually, there is a strong proposal in Congress right now for revising and updating all sorts of federal nursing home/skilled nursing facility regulations. Many address issues we hear when a concerned family member calls our office in search of guidance or representation on behalf of their loved one.

Current rules do not require intake personnel to explain the rules regarding complaints and dispute resolution very well. But they do require that before a new resident can be admitted, a form must signed by the Responsible Party (family member) that agrees to an arbitration standard that becomes very expensive very quickly.

With regard to the proposed revisions, the following points (quoted directly from the Federal Register) would become the new practice. They aren’t great, but they’re better than what is in on the books right now.

  • Specific requirements for the facility and the agreement itself to ensure that if a facility presents binding arbitration agreements to its residents that the agreements be explained to the residents and they acknowledge that they understand the agreement;
  • The agreements be entered into voluntarily; and arbitration sessions be conducted by a neutral arbitrator in a location that is convenient to both parties.
  • Admission to the facility could not be contingent upon the resident or the resident representative signing a binding arbitration agreement.
  • The agreement could not prohibit or discourage the resident or anyone else from communicating with federal, state, or local health care or health-related officials, including representatives of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

Resolving complaints via arbitration instead of the court system is sometimes an efficient approach. However, it shouldn’t be the only approach.

So, while the proposal making the rounds in Washington, D.C. is lining up its supporters and detractors, we can expect that changes made to improve the consumer experience may come at a cost. There will likely be limits to the facility’s exposure in most cases, thereby ensuring that the “cost” of delivering services is not driven up by settlement decisions.

Senators Franken (D-MN) and Baldwin (D-WI) are on board in the Senate.

We’re staying focused on this issue and will provide updates. No one ever said getting old is easy.

Article – “The Trucks Are Killing Us”

Laws that pertain to long-haul trucks and truck drivers require Congressional approval. This article, penned by Howard Abramson a former executive with the American Trucking Association (1998 to 2014) spells out in plain language the known dangers of our current highways and the politics at work to impede any sort of reform. From safety features available on all new trucks to driver scheduling that would reduce fatigue, this article helps explain why Congress is slow to apply the rules of common sense to the trucking industry.

To read the New York Times article, click here.

The history of grit and the open road

The history of grit and the open road

American Motorcycle History

Nothing reminds us more of how far we’ve come than history. From American ingenuity and innovation, to hard work, endurance and grit, I’m interested and appreciative of any true story that attracts my interest and makes me proud.

Motorcycle history is fun and more active than ever.

Photo and fact-filled websites provide great background on these stories, often run by authors who continue to tell the stories and translate the importance of this history on American industry, transportation and culture. You’ll find museums throughout the Midwest too, making a long weekend ride both educational and fun. The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame is a great one, as is the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

America’s early days of motorcycle innovation are really amazing. In the early 1900s, more than 200 manufacturers around the country were competing to capture a market that provided transportation and status. Roads in-town were paved and those in the country were dirt and mud, yet that didn’t stop the race to build the better carburetor or braking system.

That competitive spirit drove men and women to stretch the limits and do what had never been done. Early pioneers like Effie and Avis Hotchkiss (mother/daughter team) and Augusta and Adeline Van Buren achieved “firsts,” and were in active endorsement relationships with industry leaders Firestone and Indian. Their stories read more like fiction than history.

In their 1916 transcontinental ride from New York to San Francisco, the Van Burens were the first pair of motorcyclists (men or women) to reach the top of Pike’s Peak (14,109 feet above sea level). They did so without reliable maps, weak rubber on their tires (by today’s standard), and nominal braking technology on their 1916 Indian 1000cc twins. Their experience prior to that ride included 9,000 miles yearly, pushing speeds of up to 65 mph. Women could not vote, yet these two were breaking ground for motorcyclists by providing real performance data in extreme conditions. The Van Buren sisters were inducted into the American Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Sturgis Museum the following year. Their story and details about a ride commemorating the 100th anniversary of their historic feat is available atwww.vanburensisters.com.

While I enjoy history and motorcycles, I have not yet been bit by the bug of restoring vintage or old bikes. Surely, the internet has made this community more connected. To celebrate and demonstrate the guts that riding truly historic bikes took then, more than 100 riders will take place in a unique run this fall. September 7 -23, the Pre-1930 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run (coast to coast) features riders from around the country, with swings through Wisconsin and Iowa on September 9-10. It makes an important stop in Sturgis. Learn more about the bikes, the riders, the route and the rules atwww.motorcyclecannonball.com.

American ingenuity and pride is alive and well. Experience some of it this summer by celebrating motorcycling history.

Do You Have All of the Motorcycle Insurance You Need?

Do You Have All of the Motorcycle Insurance You Need?

Insurance decisions leave no room for the “ostrich syndrome”

A big reason why I advocate so strongly for safety and use of common sense when you’re on a bike or behind the wheel is this: the insurance world is complicated. The first time many learn this is after they’ve been injured, and for the first time need to file a claim. It’s tough enough dealing with doctors’ appointments, rehabbing injuries and wondering about your job/career. You don’t need a colossal run-around from your insurance company. That’s usually the point when I get the call for help.

If you aren’t already familiar with the current coverage for you and your vehicles, protect yourself. Read your policies’ fine print, ask your agent or seek legal advice. Most attorneys should provide free advice on insurance issues.

Motorcycle MedPay Coverage

Motorcycle insurance policies include Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage, which covers necessary medical care required following a motorcycle accident and can be used regardless of who is at fault. Your automobile No-Fault insurance (MN) won’t cover you for motorcycle-related injuries. MedPay often is limited to medical treatment received within the first year after an accident and is capped by a specific dollar amount. In some states, MedPay only applies after other medical insurance is exhausted. As new laws are enacted that reduce the minimum amount of insurance coverage required, it’s up to you to assess whether you have enough coverage. Your agent won’t. Whether you have health insurance or not, you should get all the MedPay coverage your motorcycle insurance company/agent will sell you. It’s inexpensive but necessary coverage. Personal bankruptcy due to medical expenses is most often the result of inadequate coverage.

Health Insurance

If your employer provides your health insurance coverage, then you’re covered for claims stemming from a motorcycle accident. Individual policies written in Minnesota and Wisconsin will factor into your premium the risk associated with motorcycle riding. In some states, health insurance may deny coverage, if you didn’t disclose that you ride. They may exclude motorcycle-related injuries altogether. Health insurance today often carries high deductibles and annual or lifetime limits on claims. Even with layers of insurance, you may pay thousands of dollars in uncovered expenses. It’s important to know and understand this before you need it. Beware, in the event of a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, your insurance providers will seek re-payment for all medical bills paid.

Workers Compensation

Minnesota and Wisconsin law requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance for employees. If you’re self-employed, you can and should have workers comp insurance. Workplace safety is important, but injuries happen. Minnesota law states that an employee injured in the line of work, is entitled to reasonable and necessary medical treatment and wage lost benefits. Riding a motorcycle while conducting work-related activities means you are covered under workers comp. Both states maintain user-friendly workers comp websites & toll free hotlines to call. However, laws are complicated and most often, only an attorney can help you.

Motorcycle/Auto Insurance

It’s important to review your insurance policies and coverages yearly. Document your bike upgrades and accessories with your insurance agent. Should your bike get stolen, be prepared to answer a lot of questions about the circumstances and its condition. Having filed my own stolen bike claim with my long-trusted insurance agent, I was suspect #1 and was told this right from the beginning. Again, laws reducing minimum coverage (like Wisconsin’s) mean the insurance company pays out less. While liability insurance coverage is important, you need to protect yourself and your family with high limits of underinsured (UIM) and uninsured (UM) motorist coverage. Do not skimp on these coverages.

Wisdom from Rick

Don’t be an ostrich. All who ride (or drive) aren’t necessarily properly insured. In fact, most aren’t. Now’s the time to see if you and your family are.

Bakken Truckers often “Haul Heavy” (November 2014)

Did you know that every type of vehicle has a weight limit?  These weight limits are created, and need to be adhered to so that vehicles can accelerate, brake and turn the way there were designed to.  When a car or truck is overloaded, they lose control, and that can be dangerous to other drivers on the road.  Companies too often sacrifice the safety of their vehicles, drivers and everyone on or around the road to ensure that they make their deadlines or are able to move shipments more efficiently. (click to read full article)

Off-road Riding: Understanding Liability & Requirements

Off-road motorcycle riding delivers an adrenaline rush very different than open roads. Minnesota State

Parks have some great off-road trails for motorcycles. If you’re lucky, you, a buddy or family friend owns land suitable to off-road thrills. Whether you own land or intend to ride on someone else’s, it’s important to understand liability and who is accountable for safety and injuries.If you intend to ride your motorcycle at all, on Minnesota public or private land, you must carry insurance on it. Auto coverage is just that, coverage on your car or truck. And if you intend to ride without health insurance, one wipe out could create a mountain of medical bills and long term financial problems.

Insurance

While property owners have insurance on their land and for their negligence, it’s not going to cover you and your friends. Just because you get injured on someone’s property does not necessarily mean they are responsible— you have to prove the property owner was at fault. Also, the doctrine of assumption of the risk will apply to your conduct.

Recreational Land Use

As long as an individual is not charging a fee for recreational use of their land, state law limits the property owner’s liability in the case of accidents, injuries and damages.

“… an owner who gives written or oral permission for the use of land for recreational purposes without charge:

  • Owes no duty of care to render or maintain the land safe for entry or use by other persons
  • Owes no duty to warn those persons of any dangerous condition on the land, whether
  • Owes no duty of care toward those persons except to refrain from willfully taking action to
  • Owes not duty to curtail use of the land during its use for recreational purpose.”

In offering free, recreational use, the owner may post signage in everyday language indicating that he /she assumes no liability for injuries or damage to equipment. In doing so, the owner isn’t being a jerk and isn’t bluffing.

Minnesota law further stands by the land owner, defining recreational use to include, “hunting, trapping, fishing, bicycling, skiing, horseback riding, snowmobile riding and motorized trail riding.”

“An owner who gives written or oral permission for the use of the land for recreational purposes without charge does not by that action:

  • Extend any assurance that the land is safe for any purpose; for recreational purpose; patent or latent; cause injury; and
  • Confer upon the person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed; or
  • Assume responsibility for or incur liability for injury to the person or property caused by an act or omission of the person.”

Off–road Compliance

Once you decide you want to ride off-road, there is more to know. Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers a comprehensive booklet about regulations, definitions of off-road vehicles, state trails and usage. It’s important to know the off-road safety requirements, which vary slightly from highway-use standards.

Off-highway motorcycles must be registered with the DNR, regardless of whether you intend to ride on public or private lands. Even if your motorcycle is licensed for highway/regular use, you need to have a dual DNR registration if you plan to ride it off-road. The DNR’s requirements are pretty clear and available online and in a booklet form.

Rick’s Bottom Line

Going off-road is a blast. Some land owners have even set up off road courses. Most require signing a waiver/release of liability, which Minnesota courts have upheld. A bill was introduced at the Legislature to limit these waivers/releases—but for now they’re pretty iron clad. Don’t construe off-road to be a vacation from knowing the law, exercising judgment with regard to weather and riding conditions and the operation of your motorcycle. Just understand that you are accountable for all your actions, injuries and damages. And finally, be a responsible guest.

Fall Riding Tips

Preparation and planning always pays off for fall rides

Some of the best hours of riding are before us as Minnesota and Wisconsin show off their finest colors in years. Reports say this Fall will give us good weather and vivid color.

Don’t put off planning your ride. Research scenic routes, line up some friends and make a memory of it. Fall riding brings its own unique array of hazards, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying the last rides before the snow flies. Here is a short list of things to consider ? preparation you can do before the ride to keep you warmer, drier and safer.

Weather Conditions and the Ride

Leaves fall, get wet and create an unexpected “slick” around any corner ahead of you. Fall harvest means tractors bringing mud out of fields and dragging gravel on to corners. Deer, turkeys and other creatures pop out of nowhere. Even more important in the Fall ? looking further up the road is critical ? and signaling to your group is essential. Think about the condition of your own bike, from summer riding or lack of use: tire pressure, suspension settings and rider positioning. Before you hit the road, make sure you check tire pressure.

Remember the basics of braking. While there is more power in the front brakes, use both brakes to increase your control and response time. Particularly if you are riding with a group, braking and speed control are important to flow, cohesion, and signaling those behind you.

Weather Conditions and the Rider

Layering is the way to go. If you are new to late Fall, cold-weather rides, get to know the array of layers that are available and which ones are worth the investment. Think about what you want your outerwear to do for you ? keep you dry? Keep you warm? Block the wind? You’ll need three layers. While cotton is “cool” in summer ? you need to leave it in the drawer for Fall. Close fitting, performance base layers are the first layer. Think UnderArmor, Polarmax and Smart Wool. The next layer is the warmth layer ? think wool, performance fleece or vests. The final layer is the windstopper and rain proof layer. Think nylon, GoreTex, and “Windstopper” labels. Talk to the experts at any outdoor sportswear store for the proper performance clothing. And like anything ? you get what you pay for. Also, electric vests, liners and heated handgrips are designed for cold weather riding that can totally change the experience.

Your feet and hands deserve as much attention as the rest of your body, as they have the least blood circulation. Research and invest in socks and gloves that demonstrate warmth, movement and durability. Think about what you want your gloves to do and whether it’s worth it to pack a couple pair that serve different needs. Never wear two pairs of socks and make sure your feet can move inside your boots.

Cold weather riding (or days that start cold and turn warmer by noon) may be best served with a helmet or cap. Make sure you always pack your gaitor even if you don’t think you need it. Don’t own one yet? Buy one that offers the fullest coverage. You’ll never ride without one again in the Fall/Spring months. Remember when your head, hands and feet are cold, riding becomes a lot less fun and worse yet you start to lose concentration on the road/riding. You burn more calories when it’s cold ? so make sure you frequently stop, warm up and eat.
Finally, be mindful of the load in your storage compartments. Make sure your bags are balanced for wearing and shedding a day’s worth of gear for cool weather riding. Get out there with the cool, dry air in your face and take in what our two great states have to offer.