Understanding Fault Laws in Minnesota

Each state in the nation is given autonomy in determining how it will construct its law regarding negligence, liability, and damages following an accident. In Minnesota, the state maintains a no-fault car insurance system, but recognizes modified comparative negligence in personal injury suits. Here’s what you need to know:

Minnesota’s No-Fault Car Insurance

A state may implement either a fault–where drivers are responsible for paying for the accidents that they cause–or a no-fault–where drivers are able to recover compensation regardless of who caused an accident–system. Minnesota has opted for the latter, which means that you if you are in a car crash in the state, you will turn to your own insurance company and file a claim under your own PIP (personal injury protection) benefits, regardless of who was to blame.

Minnesota does, however, allow drivers to step outside of the no-fault system and file a lawsuit directly against the other driver (which allows for the recovery of noneconomic damages) when:

  • The injured person’s medical expenses total more than $4,000; or
  • The injured person has suffered permanent injury, disability, or disfigurement.

Modified Comparative Negligence

If a party does step outside of the no-fault car insurance system, then the rule of modified comparative negligence is applied (this rule is also applied for all other negligence-based personal injury claims). Modified comparative negligence means that contributory fault does not bar a plaintiff’s recovery so long as the plaintiff’s degree of fault was not greater than that of the person against whom they are filing suit. However, while recovery is not barred, the amount of damages that a plaintiff is allowed to recover is reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.

Strict Liability

While compensation for the majority of personal injury cases is pursued via a negligence-based claim, there are some cases in which a defendant is held strictly liable, and that liability is not based on negligence, nor reduced based on the negligence of the victim. For example, in a dog bite case in Minnesota, the owner of the dog is held strictly liable (the victim does not need to prove that the dog owner breached a duty of care) for the victim’s damages.

Contact Our Minnesota Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you are injured in Minnesota, understanding terms like negligence and liability, as well as no-fault, fault, and comparative negligence is essential to recovering the compensation you deserve. For assistance in pursuing damages, please contact our experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyers at the offices of Novitzke Gust Sempf Whitley & Bergmanis today. Consultations are offered free of charge.

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