What is Negligence in Minnesota?

When it comes to the term negligence, your mind will likely conjure up many different definitions. However, negligence is an incredibly important concept when it comes to the law, particularly in personal injury cases.

Negligence is an unintentional tort (wrongful act or infringement of a right). This is different than an action that is purposeful or committed intentionally. Negligence occurs when a person fails to act within the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would act under similar circumstances.

If that sounds confusing, do not worry. We will give some examples of negligence below.

What are the Elements of Negligence?

Negligence cases vary from situation to situation, and the party injured must generally prove certain elements.

  • Duty. The defendant in the case must have had a duty to care owed to the plaintiff (the injured person). In many cases, the relationship established between the defendant and plaintiff creates this duty (such as between a doctor and patient), but that is not always the case. Defendants in other situations must have had a duty to act with a reasonable amount of care (drivers on the roadway).
  • Breach. If there was a duty of care between the defendant and plaintiff, then it needs to be shown that there was a breach of that duty. The court will look at whether the defendant breached their duty by doing something that a reasonably prudent person would do under similar circumstances. In other words, how would a similarly trained person act in the same situation?
  • Causation. If a duty of care and a breach of that duty is established, it needs to be shown that the breach somehow caused the injuries in question. For example, if a driver is impaired and gets into a minor crash but does not cause anyone else harm, they will likely not be able to face a personal injury lawsuit for damages, even if they were operating their vehicle illegally.
  • Damages. The final part of these cases is whether or not there were damages. The plaintiff must have suffered some form of compensate damages for their injuries.

Examples of Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

The list of ways in which a person can be negligent is endless, but there are some issues that arise more often than others. Below, we give some examples of possible negligence:

  • A driver is operating in a 15 mph school zone, but they are busy texting on their phone and fail to slow down. The driver strikes a child while operating at 30 mph and sending an email on their phone; causing a severe car accident.
  • A doctor fails to inform the patient of a known complication for a procedure they are to undergo. The patient undergoes the procedure and is permanently disabled due to the complication.
  • A store owner fails to implement policies for cleaning up spills in a timely manner and a patron slips and falls, injuring their spine.

Compensation is Typically Available in These Cases

The total compensation available to injured victims in these instances will differ from case to case depending on several factors. In general, those injured due to the negligence of others are entitled to:

  • Coverage for their medical expenses
  • Lost wages if they cannot work
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life damages
  • Possible punitive damages in cases of gross negligence

A skilled Mankato personal injury lawyer will be able to assist you to secure maximum compensation for your case.