Attorneys in all US states practice personal injury law. You may also hear it referred to as “tort” law. Under personal injury or tort laws, a person injured due to another party’s negligence or intentional action can file a civil lawsuit to recover damages.
What does all that mean?
The defendant must have caused injury or harm after acting intentionally for a victim to file a personal injury claim. Prosecutors don’t always have to argue that the injuring party acted intentionally, only that the defendant acted negligently. Acting negligently means the defendant caused the accident or injury due to carelessness.
Damages are monetary rewards recovered from a personal injury lawsuit. Damages can be either compensatory or non-compensatory (i.e., punitive damages). Compensatory damages further break down into economic (e.g., compensation for medical bills) and non-economic (e.g., compensation for psychological injury) damages.
The exact personal injury laws applicable to your case depend on which state you live in. Below, we’ll discuss the laws and statutes that will apply to personal injury victims in the North Star state.
What Is Personal Injury Law in Minnesota?
One of the most important things to understand about Minnesota’s personal injury laws is the statute of limitations. You have the right to file a personal injury claim if you were injured due to someone else’s carelessness or intentional conduct. However, you must do so within two years of the date of your injury.
There are some personal injury cases with longer statutes of limitation. For example, the statute of limitations shortens when filing personal injury claims against Minnesota government entities. You must submit your claim within 180 days of the date you were injured.
Minnesota also has unique laws surrounding auto accidents and animal attack personal injury claims. We’re discussing these statutes in detail next.
Auto Accident Tort Law in Minnesota
The state of Minnesota has two laws about filing personal injury claims after an auto accident:
- The Shared Fault Rule
- The No-Fault Auto Insurance Rule
Minnesota’s shared fault rule only applies to auto accidents in which the injured party was partially at fault for the crash. During the personal injury case, the court will determine the plaintiff’s share of fault expressed as a percentage.
For example, imagine you get injured in an accident that you’re partially at fault for. The court might then determine that the accident was 30% your fault.
The shared fault rule affects the damages a plaintiff can recover. In the above situation, the court would subtract 30% from your personal injury award. And if your share of fault is over 50%, the court won’t award you anything.
Minnesota’s no-fault auto insurance rule further governs who an injured party can seek compensation from after a car accident. Except for in certain cases, which we’ll discuss in a moment, Minnesotans injured in auto accidents must seek compensation from their insurance company before going after the other party.
Also, injured parties can’t file against insurers if their personal injury protection (PiP) insurance covers the damages. Injured parties can only file against insurers if their damages go beyond what their PiP plan offers.
The only time an injured party can file a lawsuit against the party at fault in an auto accident is if:
- You have over $4,000 in medical expenses due to the injury
- The accident resulted in permanent disability, injury, or disfigurement
If these two requirements don’t apply to you, you can’t file a claim against the at-fault party after a car accident.
Animal Attack Tort Law in Minnesota
Minnesota is a strict liability state when it comes to animal attacks, specifically dog bites. Strict liability means the owner of an animal that causes injury to another person can be held liable for that animal’s actions. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time the animal has attacked someone.
For example, imagine the owner of a dog bites a neighborhood child. It’s the first time the dog has ever bitten someone. However, a court finds the dog’s owner responsible for covering the child’s medical expenses and pain and suffering due to Minnesota’s strict liability rules.
Keep in mind that the term “owner” also applies to anyone watching over or keeping the dog. That means you could be legally responsible for someone else’s animal’s behavior if you’re dog sitting and the dog attacks and injures someone.
Which Situations and Injuries Do Personal Injury Laws Cover in Minnesota?
As we’ve mentioned, personal injury attorneys work specifically with individuals who’ve been injured in an accident or intentional event that wasn’t their fault. Here are six situations and injuries that might mean you need to find a personal injury lawyer ASAP.
Auto Accident Injuries
According to the latest data, there are over 80,000 car crashes in Minnesota each year. More than 27,000 of those accidents result in injury, while nearly 400 lead to fatalities. So, it should be no wonder that personal injury claims due to car accidents are some of the most common applications of tort law in Minnesota.
If you’re injured in a car accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you file for damages with your insurance company once you’ve exhausted your PiP coverage. Of course, you must file within 2 years of the date of the accident. And remember that the amount of compensation you receive will depend on your comparative fault.
Workplace Accident Injuries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports on the number of annual workplace injuries in Minnesota. The latest report shows that more than 63,000 Minnesota workers reported or filed a workplace injury claim in 2019. These injuries most commonly result from:
- Slip and fall incidents
- Transportation accidents
- Falling objects or equipment
- Exposure to harmful chemicals.
After a workplace accident, the injured party can hire a personal injury attorney to recover lost wages from work missed. Plaintiffs may also have access to damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
Lawyers file medical malpractice suits on behalf of patients injured due to a doctor’s or other health care professional’s negligence. Before you can file, though, your case must meet these prerequisites:
- You have evidence of malpractice
- You have obtained a medical expert’s opinion on the case OR an affidavit stating that you will seek an expert’s opinion within the next 180 days
As we mentioned above, medical malpractice is one of the few tort cases with an extended statute of limitations: four years from the date of injury. In some rare cases, a judge can extend that statute of limitations even further.
Here are a few more notes on medical malpractice in Minnesota.
First, the same shared-fault rule that applies to car accident injury claims also applies to medical malpractice cases. That means a judge could reduce your award based on your percentage of fault for the injury.
Second, Minnesota is a “no cap” state when it comes to medical malpractice damages. That means there are no limits to the amount a judge or jury can award to a plaintiff in a medical malpractice trial.
Did you know the state of Minnesota allows injured parties to file personal injury claims after “intentional torts”? Intentional torts include the following:
- False imprisonment
- False arrest
- Infliction of emotional distress
As you can see, not all of these cases would result in physical injury. Theft, fraud, and trespassing could result in damage to property, which is a type of personal injury in Minnesota.
Defamation alone is unique because it results in neither physical nor property damage. Instead, defamation leads to reputational injury.
Have you ever heard of the Roundup personal injury cases? In these personal injury lawsuits, farmers and gardeners who had used RoundUp’s weed killer product ended up with terminal illnesses. The lawyers for these plaintiffs used product liability tort law to win nearly $10B in damages from Roundup’s owner, Monsanto (now a subsidiary of Bayer).
Minnesota allows injured parties to file suit against companies whose products led to harm. To file one of these cases, the personal injury lawyer must first prove that the product manufacturer was negligent, had strict liability for the injury, or breached the product warranty.
A product liability claim is considered a personal injury lawsuit only in the case of negligence. In other words, filing a product liability claim due to strict liability or breach of warranty falls under other Minnesota laws. That’s why the statute of limitations for negligence claims is two years, while victims can file strict liability and warranty breach claims within four years.
Animal Attack Injuries
Due to the strict liability rule, Minnesota’s dog bite laws are some of the most favorable to personal injury claimants in the US.
As mentioned previously, the strict liability rule means that a dog’s owner can be held liable for his or her animal’s actions the first time it bites or otherwise attacks someone. However, all of the following statements must be true for the owner to be liable:
- The injured party was behaving “peaceably” (i.e., he or she didn’t provoke the dog)
- The injured party was on public property when the animal attacked
- The injured party was legally on private property when the animal attacked
As long as these requirements are met, the injured party can hire a personal injury attorney and recover damages. This includes damages for physical bites and related injuries. Dog bite victims can also seek recompensation for PTSD and other emotional damages that resulted from the attack.
Call a Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer
Minnesota personal injury law protects individuals injured in auto, workplace, and product liability accidents. A personal injury law firm can also help you if you’ve been the victim of intentional assault, medical malpractice, or an animal attack.
Were you injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence or intentional action? Are you searching for a “personal injury attorney near me”? Call Carlson and Jones today for a free consultation with one of our local Minnesota personal injury lawyers!