Minnesota Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules
Get an overview of the laws governing personal injury lawsuits in Minnesota.
If you're involved in an insurance claim or a lawsuit over an injury in Minnesota, you might be wondering which state laws might impact your case. In this article, we'll look at a few key Minnesota personal injury laws.
Time Limits for Minnesota Personal Injury Lawsuits
Minnesota, like every state, sets a limit on the amount of time you have to go to civil court and file a lawsuit after an injury occurs. In Minnesota, that time limit is two years, and the clock starts running on the date of the injury. (You'll find this law at Minn. Stat. Ann. section 541.07.
It's important to keep Minnesota's personal injury statute of limitations (as these laws are called) deadline in mind as your injury claim proceeds through the out-of-court settlement process. If things start to drag or settlement talks break down, you want to make sure you have plenty of time to take the matter to court. That's because, if for some reason you don't get your lawsuit filed before the two-year window closes, you'll likely lose your right to have the court hear your case.
Minnesota Shared Fault Rules
When an injured person is found to be partly at fault for causing the underlying accident, such a finding can affect how much compensation the injured person can receive. In shared fault cases, Minnesota follows a rule known as modified comparative negligence.
Here's an example of Minnesota's comparative fault rule in action. Suppose you're shopping in a mall one day, when you slip and fall on a puddle of melted ice cream. You didn't have time to avoid the puddle because you were running full speed across the mall in order to get to your favorite store before it closed. Eventually, it's determined that you are 20 percent at fault for the accident, and the mall is 80 percent at fault. Your total damages are calculated at $10,000.
Minnesota's comparative fault rule subtracts 20 percent -- the percentage of fault assigned to you -- from your total damages, allowing you to collect 80 percent, or $8,000. As long as your fault is under 50 percent, you will be allowed to collect some amount of compensation. But if your share of fault is 50 percent or more, you will not be allowed to collect anything from any other at-fault party.
Minnesota is a "No-Fault" Auto Insurance State
Minnesota is a "no-fault" auto insurance state. In a no-fault state, injured people are expected to seek compensation from insurers, regardless of who was at fault for the car accident. Injured people may not bring their car accident cases to court in Minnesota unless they meet certain minimum requirements, which are:
- they've incurred more than $4,000 in reasonable medical expenses, or
- they've suffered disability, permanent injury, or permanent disfigurement for at least 60 days.
In addition, you may only file a lawsuit that seeks damages in excess of the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits in your own insurance policy. If your PIP benefits cover all your expenses, you may not file a lawsuit.
See this article on no-fault personal injury claims for more on these types of cases.
"Strict" Liability for Dog Bite/Attack Cases
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In Minnesota however, a specific statute (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 347.22) makes the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. Specifically, the statute reads:
“If a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is acting peaceably in any place where the person may lawfully be, the owner of the dog is liable in damages to the person so attacked or injured to the full amount of the injury sustained.”
Injury Claims Against the Government in Minnesota
If your injury was caused by the negligence of a government employee or agency in Minnesota (your car was hit by a city bus, for example), you’ll need to follow a different set of rules if you want to get compensation for your losses.
A formal injury claim against the Minnesota state government or its employees must be filed within 180 days of the injury, according to Minn. Stat. Ann. section 3.736(5). You also have 180 days to file a formal injury claim against a local (city or county) government in Minnesota. (Minn. Stat. Ann. section 466.05.)
More Information on Minnesota Personal Injury Law
Chapters 540-552 of the Minnesota Statutes cover court procedures in personal injury cases. Chapters 160-174A cover motor vehicle laws and requirements. Both sections may be helpful sources for Minnesota personal injury laws.