What Kinds of “Injuries” Does Personal Injury Law Include in Minnesota?

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:

  1. The Shared Fault Rule
  2. 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.

 

Medical Malpractice

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.

 

Intentional Torts

Did you know the state of Minnesota allows injured parties to file personal injury claims after “intentional torts”? Intentional torts include the following:

  • Assault
  • False imprisonment
  • False arrest
  • Theft
  • Infliction of emotional distress
  • Fraud
  • Trespassing
  • Defamation

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.

 

Product Liability

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!

 

What Should I Look for in a Criminal Lawyer in Buffalo, MN?

When you’re charged with a criminal offense, you need to hire an attorney ASAP. Yet, not just any lawyer will do. You need an experienced criminal lawyer in Buffalo who will aggressively fight for your rights.

Before you start looking, though, it’s important to understand the difference between criminal and civil lawyers. Civil attorneys take cases in their specialties, which might include personal injury law, family law, employment law, and more.

A criminal lawyer, on the other hand, defends or prosecutes people who have been charged with crimes. If you are the one charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense attorney. If you want to bring charges against someone who committed a crime against you or a family member, you need a criminal prosecutor.

What else should you look for in a good criminal lawyer in Buffalo, MN? We’re guiding you through the top qualities you should search for and five red flags that should send you running.

 

10 Qualities of the Best Criminal Lawyer in Buffalo, MN

The American Bar Association estimates that there are over 1.3 million practicing lawyers in the US. And the state of Minnesota is home to over 25,000 of them. Yet, not all Minnesota lawyers are created equal.

Here are the ten most critical features of a good criminal attorney that can help you search through the weeds and find the cream of the crop.

1. Specialization

We alluded to this above — a good criminal lawyer should specialize in criminal law. He or she could also practice a separate specialty. But the lawyer’s or law firm’s website should mention criminal law as a specialization.

Specialized criminal lawyers should be able to talk about the basics off the top of their heads. They should never have to look up statutes to answer your questions. Avoid hiring an attorney who seems uncertain or unconfident about criminal laws during the initial consultation.

 

2. Experience

A good criminal attorney won’t just have experience in criminal law. He or she should also have experience with the exact crime the police charged you with.

For example, if you’re charged with assault, you want to choose an attorney who has a history of arguing assault cases. Bonus points if the lawyer also has an impressive track record of successful cases.

 

3. Location

It may come as a surprise that location is critical when it comes to hiring a good criminal attorney. Local lawyers have experience with local court systems. This could mean a more favorable deal for you.

 

4. Communication

You might think that a good criminal attorney should dazzle you with legal jargon and tell you what to do in your case. But the best criminal attorneys will explain complex laws and confusing legal language thoroughly. They offer options of how to approach your case and allow you to choose the path that works best for you.

A criminal attorney should also give you a reasonable outcome to expect in your case. More on this below.

 

5. Aggressive Representation

Criminal cases can be lengthy and exhausting. That’s why it’s important to hire an attorney who will aggressively fight for the best possible outcome, no matter how long it takes or how much evidence is up against you.

 

6. A Service Mindset

Attorneys can be intimidating, but don’t forget that your criminal lawyer works for you, not the other way around. A good criminal lawyer should have a service mindset. That means he or she should foster trust with you and create value.

 

7. Enthusiasm

A good lawyer should show enthusiasm for your case. He or she should be excited to take on the challenge, no matter how daunting it may seem.

Why is this quality so important? An enthusiastic criminal lawyer will be highly motivated, productive, and confident in his or her abilities. Plus, enthusiasm shows that a legal professional will thoroughly investigate and aggressively argue your case.

 

8. A Personal Touch

So, what happens if you have two or three criminal lawyers you can’t decide between? Always go with the professional with whom you feel most comfortable.

Criminal cases can take months, if not years, to resolve. Although your lawyer works for you, he or she will also be your partner throughout the entirety of the case. You should feel comfortable asking questions, giving your opinion, and disagreeing with your lawyer if the need arises.

 

9. A One-on-One Relationship

Some attorneys will see you for the initial consultation and then hand your case off to a more junior employee. Luckily, criminal attorneys (and especially good ones) are different. With criminal law, the attorney you hire is almost always the attorney who will represent you.

 

10. A Transparent Cost Structure

Cost is often the most important factor in hiring an attorney. And a criminal lawyer is no different. Criminal defense is expensive, and there’s usually no way to get around this fact unless you hire someone who is inexperienced or has a poor track record.

Instead of looking for a cheap lawyer, search for an attorney with a transparent fee structure. Many criminal lawyers charge clients flat fees, which can give you an estimate of the total cost of representation upfront.

 

5 Red Flags When Looking for Criminal Attorneys in Buffalo, MN

People talk a lot about the qualities to look for in a good criminal lawyer. But we don’t talk enough about the red flags that should send you running from your initial consultation.

So, we compiled this list of the top five red flags you need to know about when it comes to hiring a Minnesota criminal defender.

 

1. Other Lawyers Don’t Recommend Him

One of the biggest criminal lawyer red flags is if his peers don’t recommend him. Regardless of opinions or beliefs, legal professionals should always show professional respect toward one another.

If your criminal lawyer has lost the respect of his peers, this could impact the judge’s and jury’s decision in your case.

 

2. He Guarantees an Outcome

Your attorney should be able to offer some idea of what outcome to expect in your case. But an attorney should never guarantee or make promises about outcomes.

Not only is guaranteeing an outcome unethical it’s also a potential sign of a corrupt lawyer. Some lawyers will bribe or otherwise influence judges to rule in their favor. Never hire an attorney like this because he could get disbarred, leaving you to find another lawyer.

 

3. An Aggressive Personality

We’ve discussed how important it is to seek aggressive representation. But it’s important to recognize the difference between an aggressive litigation style and an aggressive personality.

A criminal attorney with an aggressive personality may antagonize the prosecution and even the judge. He might follow every single line of argument he can think of instead of picking and choosing his battles wisely.

In the end, a criminal defense lawyer with an aggressive personality could end up costing you more in the long run. And if he makes an enemy of the judge, you could end up with a negative outcome at the end of the trial.

 

4. He Undercuts on Price

A lawyer whose prices are too good to be true is a major red flag. The fact that he or she can undercut the market could mean a poor track record, inexperience, or high volume. Taking on high volumes means your case won’t get as much attention as it would with another lawyer.

Also, keep in mind that a Buffalo, MN criminal defense attorney should never charge you a contingency fee. It’s illegal to charge contingency fees in Minnesota criminal cases.

 

5. He Encourages You to Sign a Contract After the First Consultation

Good criminal defense attorneys will always encourage you to find the attorney that works best for your needs. That’s why lawyers often suggest meeting with multiple professionals in your area.

So, your lawyer should never pressure you into signing a retainer agreement after the initial consultation. He or she should review the retainer’s terms with you, yes. But if you feel pressured to sign, that’s a major red flag.

 

How to Find a Criminal Attorney in Buffalo

By now, you may be wondering: so how exactly do I find a lawyer who meets all of the above requirements without any of these red flags? Here are some tips for locating a good criminal lawyer near you:

The initial consultation is arguably the most important factor in finding a good criminal attorney. Most lawyers offer free consultations. That way, you can schedule an in-person meeting with as many attorneys as you want.

Before your consultation, make a list of questions you’d like to ask your lawyer. This list might include queries about the attorney’s fee structure, availability to focus on your case, and success rate with cases like yours.

Remember to pay attention to the lawyer’s communication style (does he return calls promptly? Is he happy to answer all your questions?) and how personally comfortable you feel with him.

 

Call the Best Criminal Lawyer in Buffalo, MN

The most important qualities to look for in the best criminal attorney include specialization, experience, and good communication skills. Major red flags include if a lawyer makes promises about your case’s outcome or encourages you to sign a retainer after your first consultation.

Searching for an experienced criminal lawyer in Buffalo, MN? You’ve come to the right place. Schedule a free consultation with Carlson and Jones’ criminal attorney today and find out if we’re a good fit for your case.

What Are the Requirements for a Search Warrant in Minnesota?

The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure of private property. However, with a search warrant, law enforcement officers can legally enter your private dwelling, search for evidence, and use that evidence against you in a court of law.

Law enforcement agencies can’t just serve a search warrant to anyone, though. There are specific requirements for when officers can obtain search warrants. Rule 36 of the Minnesota Statutes allows law enforcement officers to execute searches and seizures of private property if there is probable cause.

What does “probable cause” mean? And if a law enforcement officer does have probable cause to obtain a search warrant, what is he or she allowed to do and not to do while executing that warrant? We’re answering these two questions and more in this guide to the requirements for a search warrant in Minnesota.

 

What Exactly Is a Search Warrant in Minnesota?

Minnesota search warrants are legal documents. Judges grant these legal documents to law enforcement officers for one of two reasons:

  1. The officer needs the authority to arrest someone for a crime (an arrest warrant)
  2. The officer needs to search someone’s home or property to obtain evidence of a crime (a search warrant)

Arrest warrants are necessary when individuals charged with crimes fail to or refuse to surrender to law enforcement. Arrest warrants come after search warrants because the former requires the officer to have evidence of the person’s crime already.

Search warrants are similar to arrest warrants in that they grant authority to law enforcement agents. The end goal of a search warrant is also the same — to charge someone with a crime — but the method is different. Search warrants allow officers to search for and seize evidence of a suspect’s criminal offense.

As you can see, the big difference between these two types of warrants is the process through which law enforcement officers must obtain and execute the search warrant. Specifically, officers must have “probable cause” to execute a search warrant, while, with an arrest warrant, they already have most or all the evidence needed to charge the suspect.

 

Probable Cause: Explained

As we mentioned above, the Fourth Amendment allows for searches and seizures of private property as long as there is probable cause. In the US and Minnesota, specifically, “probable cause” is equal to a search warrant.

All a law enforcement officer needs to obtain a search warrant is a strong suspicion that a suspect committed a crime. The officer must also reasonably believe that, upon executing the search warrant, he or she will obtain evidence of that crime being committed.

Of course, a judge has to agree with the enforcement officer’s line of reasoning and/or evidence before issuing the warrant.

 

Search Warrant Tiers in Minnesota

Minnesota divides search warrants into three tiers. Each tier has different requirements for obtaining the warrant, which we’re talking about below.

 

Tier 1 Search Warrants

Officers file for Tier 1 search warrants in situations that present little to no threat of harm to the officer or the public. Typically, the threat of harm is low because the suspected criminal won’t be present at the time of the search. For this reason, only the officer requesting the warrant must be present at the time he or she executes the warrant.

Law enforcement might seek a Tier 1 search warrant in the following situations:

  • Searching bank records
  • Searching safety deposit boxes
  • Searching cell phone records
  • Searching impounded cars
  • Searching social media accounts
  • Searching medical records

Officers can also request a Tier 1 search warrant to obtain someone’s DNA after an alleged sexual assault. However, the suspect must already be in police custody. If he or she is not in police custody, a judge will mandate a Tier 2 or even Tier 3 warrant.

 

Tier 2 Search Warrants

If executing a search warrant presents even a small threat or chance of harm to the public or law officers, the judge will mandate a Tier 2 warrant.

When deciding on Tier 2 vs. Tier 1 search warrants, enforcement agencies take the following factors into account:

  • The type and severity of the crime
  • Aggravating factors (e.g., a weapon)
  • How long ago the crime was committed
  • The level of intelligence collected about the suspect
  • The level of intelligence collected about the location where the warrant will be executed
  • Whether the suspect is in police custody or at large
  • Whether the suspected criminal has a history of violence
  • Whether the location of the search warrant or the suspected criminal presents a risk to the public or law enforcement officers

To obtain one of these warrants, enforcement officers must first complete a Threat Assessment form. The division commander must review the warrant jointly with the local SWAT commander. If approved, the warrant then goes to the local police Chief for approval.

Officers trained in executing search warrants and at least one supervisor must be present during the execution of a Tier 2 search warrant.

 

Tier 3 Search Warrants

Executing some search warrants is highly risky, whether because of the nature of the suspect or the location where the warrant will be served. That’s why a SWAT team and the SWAT commander must serve this type of search warrant.

There are typically three reasons why police might upgrade a search warrant to Tier 3:

  1. The suspected crime involved a weapon
  2. The suspected criminal is not currently in police custody, and he or she will be present during the search OR his or her whereabouts are unknown
  3. Law enforcement knows specific information about the suspected criminal that creates a reasonable need for a Tier 3 warrant

The process of obtaining a Tier 3 search warrant is the same as that for a Tier 2 warrant. However, the requirements for executing Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 search warrants differ.

 

3 Requirements for Executing a Search Warrant in Minnesota

Minnesota law enforcement officers don’t just have to follow rules about filing for warrants. They also have specific requirements for serving a search warrant. If they don’t abide by these requirements, a criminal defense lawyer can convince the judge to throw out the case.

Here are three requirements for executing search warrants that Minnesota law enforcement agencies must follow.

 

1. The Time the Warrant Is Served

When police obtain a search warrant, the judge will designate a time during which the search must take place. In Minnesota, the only time law enforcement can serve a search warrant is between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The only exception to this requirement is if the judge believes delaying a search will compromise the evidence, and a nighttime search is required. A judge might also issue a nighttime search warrant if he or she believes it will protect the public and/or the officers.

To be legally enforceable, the search warrant must state the time of service, and officers must actually serve the warrant at that exact time.

 

2. Procedural Rules

Procedural rules for executing search warrants vary by tier.

Tier 1 search warrants have the laxest procedural rules. Procedural requirements include that officers must take before and after photographs of the location and must photograph any items confiscated during the search.

Most importantly, the law enforcement officer who serves the warrant must provide a copy of the warrant to the person who owns the property. The officer must also provide a receipt of the items taken during the search. If no one is at the property during the search, officers must leave the warrant and the receipt at the scene.

Tier 2 search warrants must also abide by the above procedures. Additionally, law enforcement officers must announce themselves before entering the property and continue to do so throughout the duration of the search. This is a requirement for both knock and no-knock search warrants.

Tier 3 search warrants have the same requirements as Tier 2 and Tier 1 warrants. The only difference between Tier 2 and Tier 3 search warrant processes is that a SWAT team will execute a Tier 3 warrant rather than a police officer or detective.

 

3. Jurisdiction

Law enforcement agencies can’t serve search warrants outside of their jurisdiction without prior permission. For example, a Minnetonka police officer can’t execute a search warrant in Brainerd without receiving a request for assistance from Brainerd police.

Using the same example, Minnetonka police could request to assist with a Brainerd search warrant. However, if Brainerd law enforcement agencies refuse the assistance, the Minnetonka police don’t have jurisdiction.

 

Can Law Enforcement Conduct a Search Without a Warrant?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes. In Minnesota, a law enforcement officer can conduct a search if he or she has an “articulable reason.” An articulable reason means the officer can explain why they were suspicious and why that suspicion required the search.

For example, say someone is driving under the influence and fails to come to a full and complete stop at an intersection. If an officer sees the person violate traffic signals, he or she can pull that person over. If the officer then sees an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, that’s enough probable cause to conduct a search and, potentially, make an arrest.

 

Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Minnesota?

Search warrants are legal documents giving law enforcement officers the authority to conduct searches and seizures of private property. However, police must follow specific requirements for a search warrant in Minnesota to be legal.

If you’re arrested after law enforcement executes a search warrant, a criminal defense attorney can help defend your rights. Call Carlson and Jones to schedule a free consultation today!

Damages: How Much Is a Personal Injury Case Worth in Minnesota?

If you were injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, your eligibility for a personal injury settlement depends on your comparative fault and whether you file before the statute of limitations is up.

How does comparative fault factor into your ability to win a settlement? You must be less than 50% responsible for the event that caused your injury to receive compensation in Minnesota.

If a judge finds you more than 50% responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit. And if your comparative fault is less than 50% but greater than 0%, the court will reduce your final settlement amount (more on this below).

The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is generally two years. If you’re filing a claim against a government employee, though, the statute of limitations is only 180 days. You also only have six months to file a claim against an insurance company after a car accident.

Exactly how much settlement money can you win after filing a personal injury lawsuit in Minnesota? We’re discussing the different types of settlements and how much you can expect to get in your case next.

 

What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Minnesota?

Damages are amounts of money awarded to a plaintiff (the person who filed the lawsuit) after a personal injury lawsuit. Damages compensate the plaintiff for losses acquired due to the injury.

Minnesota law differentiates between two types of damages: punitive and compensatory damages.

Compensatory damages can either be monetary compensation (called economic damages) or compensation for emotional harm (called non-economic damages). Punitive damages are known as “non-compensatory” because judges award them to punish the defendant, not to pay anything back to the victim.

Below, we’ll discuss who’s eligible for non-economic, economic, and punitive damages.

 

Medical Expenses

Settlements that pay back the victim’s medical expenses are economic damages, also known as financial damages. But what counts as a medical expense after an injury caused by someone else’s negligence?

The money you paid for medical bills acquired as a direct result of your injury count as medical expenses. Courts also take into account any future medical expenses you might reasonably take on as a result of your injury. This includes costs for rehabilitation, long-term care, future medical care, and more.

 

Property Damage

Sometimes an accident doesn’t result in someone’s injury but does result in injury or damage to the victim’s property. You can hire a lawyer to recover compensation for your property damage. Property damage compensation is a type of economic damages.

You can seek a settlement for property damage to your vehicle or motorcycle after a crash. Any other item that belongs to you and is damaged due to another person’s negligence is also eligible for a property damage settlement.

 

Lost Income

Lost income settlement amounts are yet another type of economic or financial damages. You can receive this type of compensation if you missed work or lost your job while suffering or recovering from your injury. Keep in mind that settlements designated as a replacement for lost income are taxable in Minnesota.

Say your personal injury resulted in a reduction of your earning potential. For example, you may have ended up with a permanent disability that prevents you from working your trade. If that’s the case, you can also receive damages for your loss of earning potential.

 

Intangible Damages

Another term for non-economic damages is intangible damages. That’s because this type of settlement compensates pain and suffering and other psychological losses caused by the injury or accident, including:

  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium (when injuries to the victim also cause psychological harm to his or her spouse or partner)

Intangible damages can be notoriously difficult to prove. You may need testimonials from your therapist, friends, and family members. Your personal injury attorney may also want to hire a psychology expert to testify on your behalf.

 

Punitive Damages

As we mentioned above, punitive damages are different from compensatory damages. This type of settlement isn’t meant to re-pay the victim’s economic losses or pain and suffering. Instead, judges typically award punitive damages to punish the defendant for intentional or particularly negligent acts.

It’s estimated that only 5% of personal injury victims receive punitive damages as part of their settlements. Also, it’s common for judges to award punitive damages if he or she considers the victim’s compensatory award inadequate.

 

Factors Affecting Your Personal Injury Case Value in Minnesota

Personal injury settlements can range from $3,000 to over $100,000. And one Minnesota personal injury case settled for over $2 million. So, why exactly do some cases settle for a few thousand dollars while other victims get awards in the millions?

We’re talking about the top factors that impact your personal injury settlement below.

 

The Extent of Injury or Property Damage

Your injury or the injury to your property is arguably the most critical factor in your final settlement award. Judges will want to see your medical bills or get an estimate of the damage done to your belonging(s).

The more property damage or the more severe the injury, the higher your award will be. Your settlement will also be higher if your injury or property damage is permanent. And if the defendant caused both personal injury and property damage in one accident, your award will be even larger.

 

Non-economic Losses

Your settlement award will increase if you qualify for both economic and non-economic losses. However, in Minnesota, you must have accumulated more than $4,000 in medical expenses to qualify for non-economic damages.

You may also be eligible for a non-economic settlement award in Minnesota if your injury is permanent or causes a disability that lasts 60+ days.

 

Your Ability to Work

Victims can win money to compensate for income losses in a personal injury lawsuit. If you missed work because of your injury, the judge can designate a portion of your award to recover your lost income.

As mentioned above, your settlement award will be even larger if you can prove your injury will affect your future earning potential.

 

Comparative Fault

Comparative fault is the law in Minnesota. Under the comparative fault rule, judges determine the share of fault for an accident. That means the judge will assign fault to both the defendant and the plaintiff (AKA the victim).

If you’re found to share even 1% of the fault for the accident, this will affect your settlement amount. The judge will subtract 1 percent from your settlement for each percentage point of your contributory negligence.

 

Inconsistent and Recorded Statements

Giving inconsistent statements to insurance companies is a surefire way to reduce your personal injury lawsuit settlement award. If any subsequent statements are inconsistent with your initial statement, the insurance company could use this as a reason to decrease or even eliminate your eligibility for a personal injury settlement.

Additionally, avoid giving recorded statements after the accident and/or signing over the rights to your medical records. Both of these mistakes could increase the chances of an insurance company docking your claim’s value.

 

Award Caps

In many personal injury cases, Minnesota victims must file for damages with an insurance company. Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to enforce caps on the amount they will pay out for personal injury. The good news is you can then file a claim, and your personal injury lawyer can go after the defendant.

The only exception is for medical malpractice lawsuits. Minnesota has a “no cap” rule for medical malpractice settlements.

 

Location and Precedence

Location and precedence are two additional factors that could play into the amount a judge awards you. Here’s how.

Firstly, where you actually file your personal injury lawsuit can impact your settlement amount. That’s because some jurisdictions value personal injury factors differently than others. And some jurisdictions are known to generally award higher settlement amounts than others.

Here’s one tip for filing claims outside of the jurisdiction where you reside: always hire an attorney who is local to where you’re filing, not where you’re from.

Second, your settlement award could depend on precedence. Precedence means that a previous case determines the legal rule when a similar case goes to trial. In other words, if your case has similar facts to a preceding court decision, the past verdict will help determine your case’s outcome.

 

Contingent Fees

The great thing about personal injury cases is that most victims don’t have to pay out of pocket for the lawsuit. Instead, personal injury attorneys typically take a contingency fee. That means you pay your lawyer a portion of your settlement in exchange for his or her services.

Contingency fees are significant, costing 30%–40% of your final award. But don’t let this deter you from hiring a personal injury law firm. Without representation, the defendant’s lawyer could pressure you into settling for less or even nothing at all.

 

Call a Personal Injury Attorney in Minnesota

Victims of accidents that were someone else’s fault can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensatory and, in some cases, punitive damages. Your ultimate award will depend on the extent of your injuries or damage to your property, your ability to work, your comparative fault, and more.

Are you looking for an attorney to help you recover personal injury damages? Schedule a free consultation with Carlson & Jones to speak with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.

 

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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (612) 800-8057
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (218) 736-9429
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (320) 289-4761
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (952) 260-9640
Fax: 763-682-3330

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