This isn’t a complete guide to personal injury law in Minnesota. To receive that you would first have to attend law school, and then practice for at least a couple of decades.
This is a quick guide to personal injury law in Minnesota: important things you should know if you believe you have grounds to file a lawsuit. For what can you file a claim? How long do you have to file a claim? What if you are partially at fault for your injury? Let’s guide you through the answers to those questions and more – quick.
On What Grounds Can You File a Personal Injury Claim?
You can file a personal injury claim on one of three grounds.
Negligence, if you were injured as a result of the defendant’s negligent (lack of reasonable care) behavior.
Strict liability-frequently due to a violation of a law, legal regulation or industry standard.
Intentional wrongdoing, if the defendant intentionally sought to injure you – and did.
Negligence is the grounds for most automobile collision injury claims. Essentially, every driver has a duty to use reasonable care not to harm others. If a driver fails to uphold that duty – perhaps by driving recklessly, or while checking text messages – they can be held liable for whichever damages resulted from their negligence. Slip and fall injuries are also frequently the result of simple negligence.
Strict liability normally covers product liability claims. When a company manufactures (or otherwise facilitates the distribution of) a defective product, that company can be held liable for any damages the product causes. Minnesota state law imposes absolute liability when it comes to dog bite claims. The plaintiff only has to demonstrate that they were lawfully present and acting peacefully when the dog attack occurred.
Intentional wrongdoing is the most intuitive grounds for a personal injury claim. Defendants who commit these acts often find themselves in civil and criminal court. Intentional wrongdoings include battery, assault, sexual assault, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
What Is “No-Fault” Car Insurance?
No-fault is insurance coverage mandated by Minnesota state law. It requires your auto insurance (or that of any involved vehicle coverage, in the event you have none) to compensate you for certain losses resulting from an vehicle-related injury – regardless of who was actually at fault for causing the accident. In other words, if another driver strikes and injures you and/or damages your vehicle while you are driving, you must first turn to your own insurance provider for basic economic loss benefits. If you do not have auto insurance, you still receive the mandatory benefits from the involved vehicle insurance policy.
Minnesota’s no-fault law doesn’t completely preclude negligence-based personal injury claims over auto collisions. When certain thresholds are met (typically requiring more than $4,000.00 in treatment expense, the plaintiff may file a lawsuit or make a claim for noneconomic damages. (typically pain and suffering).
How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
In Minnesota, different types of personal injury claims are subject to different statutes of limitation.
Two years – Intentional wrongdoing, negligence and from injuries caused by real property. (construction defects).
Three years – Wrongful death (with exception of murder)
Four years – Medical malpractice, strict liability
Six Years – Auto collision cases involving negligence
If you fail to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, the court will refuse to hear your case. Exceptions are sometimes made, such as for legal disability and inability to serve the defendant, but these are relatively rare. The ticking clock element to filing a claim underscores the importance of reaching out to an attorney sooner rather than later.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Suppose the defendant and the plaintiff are both at fault for causing an accident. Can the plaintiff still recover for damages? Yes – but possibly not for 100% of them, because Minnesota is a modified comparative negligence state.
Comparative negligence basically works like this: if the plaintiff is determined to be 25% at fault for the accident, and the defendant is determined to be 75% at fault, then the plaintiff can only recover for 75% of their damages. Importantly, a plaintiff may not recover anything if they are found to be 50% or more at fault.
Does Filing a Personal Injury Claim Mean Going to Trial?
In the vast majority of cases, no; only about three out of 100 personal injury cases actually go to trial.
Most personal injury claims are settled out of court. A settlement is typically negotiated after the defendant receives the plaintiff’s letter of demand. Alternatively, a settlement may be reached after the plaintiff has formally filed their complaint and both sides’ attorneys have completed discovery (a phase which precedes trial, in which attorneys gather and scrutinize evidence).
Do You Need an Attorney If You Can Just Settle Out of Court?
The fact that most personal injury claims are settled out of court does not mean you should purse one without representation by an attorney. The rules of civil procedure are intricate; failing to follow them may result in your claim being thrown out. You are more likely to reach a higher settlement when an attorney expertly negotiates on your behalf. And on the off chance that your case actually does proceed to trial, you will want an experienced trial attorney at your side.
If you have become the victim of an injury in the state of Minnesota and believe you are owed compensation for your pain and financial losses, then we welcome you to contact Kiernan Personal Injury Attorneys today for a free, zero-obligation consultation. We fight for our clients’ rights every day!