Negligence Laws in Minnesota

Injury law functions largely around the concept of negligence. In the legal sense, negligence refers to a person or party failing to uphold the duty to act with reasonable care. Essentially, a victim attempting to prove another party’s negligence must show the court that the other party owed the victim a duty to act with reasonable care, violated this duty in some way, and the victim’s damages were the direct result. Every state has unique negligence laws, and Minnesota citizens should understand the their state’s view of negligence.

Contributory Negligence in Minnesota

Some states follow comparative negligence or contributory negligence laws. These laws allow injured plaintiffs to secure compensation, even if they were partially at fault for their damages. Under Minnesota’s contributory negligence law, an injured plaintiff may recover compensation proportionate with his or her degree of fault, so long as they were not more than 50% responsible.

The judge will assess the details of the situation, determine how much fault the plaintiff bears for the events in question, and assign a “fault percentage” accordingly. The plaintiff will then lose that percentage of his or her compensation. For example, a 25% fault percentage in a $100,000 lawsuit would leave the plaintiff with 25% less, or $75,000. While some states allow plaintiffs to secure compensation even if they are 99% at fault, Minnesota cuts off the fault percentage at 50%. A plaintiff cannot recover compensation if his or her fault percentage is 51% or more.

Elements of Negligence

For any claim of negligence to hold up in court, the plaintiff’s attorney must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions meet several criteria:

  • The plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care in the situation in question.
  • Breach of duty. The plaintiff’s attorney must then show the court how the defendant breached this duty. This may be a specific action some cases, inaction.
  • Cause in fact. The plaintiff’s attorney must demonstrate how the plaintiff’s damages would not have happened had it not been for the defendant’s breach of duty.
  • Proximate cause. The plaintiff’s attorney must show that the plaintiff’s losses were indeed the result of the defendant’s negligence and not some other factor.
  • Actual harm. The plaintiff can only sue if he or she suffered “actual harm,” or some kind of measurable injury or financial loss. If the plaintiff did not suffer actual harm, he or she has no claim.

This process may seem straightforward, but navigating negligence laws can quickly evolve into a complicated ordeal. Minnesota citizens who have suffered injuries and other losses due to the negligent actions of others should work quickly to secure legal representation. A qualified attorney will be able to explore various avenues of compensation and help an injured plaintiff make his or her case in court.

Depending on the nature of the incident and the plaintiff’s damages, a plaintiff can secure compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and property damage. Additionally, plaintiffs sometimes receive punitive damages after suffering from willfully reckless or intentionally harmful acts. Anyone with questions about negligence, or the various avenues of compensation in personal injury cases, should speak with an attorney.