Minnesota Personal Injury Laws & Liability Rules

Laws governing Minnesota personal injury cases, including the statute of limitations for injury lawsuits, Minnesota's comparative negligence rule, and more.

By , J.D.

After any kind of injury in Minnesota, it can be helpful to know which state laws might affect any insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit you decide to bring. Let's take a look at the deadlines for filing an injury lawsuit in Minnesota's court system, the state's "modified comparative negligence" rule, and more.

What Is Minnesota's Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Like every state, Minnesota sets a limit on the amount of time you have to go to civil court and file a lawsuit if you think someone else is legally at fault for your injuries. These deadlines come from laws called "statutes of limitations."

The Minnesota statute of limitations deadline for personal injury lawsuits is two years, and the clock usually starts running on the date of the injury. You'll find this law at Minnesota Statutes section 541.07.

What If I Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline In Minnesota?

If 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. That means, no matter how badly you were hurt or how clear the other side's fault might be, you'll be left without any legal remedy for your injuries and related losses. This harsh result illustrates the importance of understanding and complying with the statute of limitations.

So, even if you're only filing an injury-related insurance claim for now, and you're confident your claim will reach a fair settlement, you always want to make sure you have plenty of time to take your case to court in Minnesota, if you need to.

Can the Statute of Limitations Be Extended In Minnesota?

In some situations, the running of the statute of limitations "clock" might be paused in Minnesota, effectively extending the lawsuit-filing deadline for personal injury cases. Let's look at a few examples.

If the injured person is subject to a "legal disability" at the time of the underlying accident, the statute of limitations "clock" probably won't start running until the period of legal disability is over. A legal disability could mean the injured person was under 18 at the time of the injury, or wasn't mentally capable of taking charge of any lawsuit. (Minnesota Statutes section 541.15.)

If the at-fault person "departs from and resides out of" Minnesota, and can't be served with the lawsuit, the time of absence probably won't be counted as part of the two-year filing period. (Minnesota Statutes section 541.13.)

Where Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit In Minnesota?

Minnesota's District Courts (also known as "trial" courts) have the power to hear most civil lawsuits in the state. In most situations, you'll file your personal injury lawsuit in the Minnesota county where the person you're suing lives.

If your injuries weren't all that serious and you're not seeking more than $15,000 from the at-fault party, you can file in Minnesota's Conciliation Court (Small Claims Court).

Learn more about Minnesota's court system (from mncourts.gov).

What If I'm Partly At Fault for My Minnesota Accident?

When an injured person is found to be partly at fault for the accident giving rise to their claim, it can affect how much compensation they can receive. In shared fault cases, Minnesota follows a rule known as "modified comparative negligence." (Minnesota Statutes section 604.01.)

Under this rule, if a personal injury lawsuit ends up in Minnesota's courts, the amount of the injured person's recoverable compensation (their "damages" in the language of the law) is reduced by a percentage equal to their share of negligence. If the judge or jury determines that the injured person (the "plaintiff") bears more fault than the person they're suing (the "defendant"), then the plaintiff can't recover any damages at all from the defendant.

Learn more about how fault is determined in a personal injury case.

How Does Minnesota's Comparative Negligence Rule Work?

Suppose you're shopping in a mall one day, when you slip and fall on a puddle of spilled soda that hadn't been cleaned up for hours. You didn't see the spill because you were looking at your phone.

After a court trial, the jury determines that:

  • your total damages equal $20,000
  • you're 25 percent at fault for the accident (for not paying full attention to where you were walking), and
  • the mall's share of fault is 80 percent (for failing to clean up the spill within a reasonable amount of time).

Here, under the Minnesota modified comparative fault rule, your $20,000 total damages award will be reduced by 25 percent, or $5,000, since you were assigned 25 percent of the fault. You'll be allowed to collect $15,000 in damages from the shopping mall.

Does the Minnesota Comparative Negligence Rule Apply to an Insurance Claim?

Technically, no. Minnesota courts must apply the comparative fault rule when an injury lawsuit makes it to the trial stage and liability findings and jury awards are entered into the record.

Insurance adjusters aren't required to apply the rule when handling an injury-related insurance claim. But any part the claimant might have played in causing the underlying accident is sure to come up during insurance settlement negotiations, so be prepared.

Minnesota Is a "No-Fault" Car Insurance State

Minnesota's status as a "no-fault" auto insurance state means that anyone hurt in a car accident turns first to their own car insurance coverage to get injury-related benefits, regardless of who caused the crash.

You can only bring a liability car insurance claim or lawsuit against the other driver (or their insurer) in Minnesota if your injuries meet certain thresholds. Get the details on Minnesota's no-fault car insurance rules (from Nolo.com).

Minnesota Dog Owners Face "Strict Liability" for Dog Bite Injuries

In Minnesota, a specific law (Minnesota Statutes section 347.22) governs dog owner liability for bites and other injuries. This law makes owners "strictly liable" in most situations where their animal injures someone, meaning no carelessness or negligence on the part of the owner needs to be proven. There are exceptions, including when the injured person provoked the animal, or when they were trespassing at the time of the injury. Learn more about Minnesota dog bite laws.

Are There Caps on Damages In Minnesota Personal Injury Cases?

No. While some states place a limit or "cap" on the amount of compensation an injured person can receive for certain types of losses (including economic recovery for "pain and suffering"), Minnesota has no such caps. In the rare event that an injured person's lawsuit goes all the way to trial, there are no limits on the amount of money they can be awarded if they win their case.

Get More Information on Personal Injury Cases

If you'd like more information on Minnesota personal injury laws, feel free to do a little legal research of your own. You can also get the basics about:

If you're looking for legal advice that's tailored to your situation, you might want to discuss your potential case with a personal injury lawyer.

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