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Minnesota Car Accident Compensation Laws

In 2020, there were nearly 60,000 motor vehicle accidents in Minnesota. More than 20,000 people were injured and 394 died.

After a car accident in Minnesota, it is often simple for drivers to recover compensation for minor damages and injuries. However, the state of Minnesota does not look kindly upon drivers at fault for serious accidents. If you have suffered serious damages in a car accident in Minnesota, you will want to equip yourself with knowledge of Minnesota car accident compensation laws.

The chart below covers some of the most important parts of Minnesota's car accident compensation laws.

Statute of Limitations

Under Minnesota law, you have a specific amount of time to bring a car accident claim:

Limits on Damages

As is discussed below, Minnesota's no-fault system requires damages to first exceed specific minimums. (Minnesota Statutes section 65B.44)

Other Limits

As is discussed below, damages are reduced under Minnesota's modified comparative fault system  (Minnesota Statutes section 604.01Minnesota Statutes section 5B.51)

“No-Fault" System

Minnesota's legal system for insurance claims is seemingly set up to reduce litigation as much as possible. This “no-fault" system requires parties injured in the state of Minnesota to first bring a claim based on their own insurance policy with their own insurance company.

Your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket expenses after a car accident up to policy limits, regardless of who caused the accident.

Exceptions to the No-Fault Rule

There are exceptions to the no-fault rule. In certain situations, you can bring a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver in an auto accident:

  • You must have sustained at least $4,000 in reasonable medical expenses; or
  • You must have suffered 60 days of disability, permanent injury, or permanent disfigurement because of the car accident.

If you meet these thresholds, you may be able to sue for damages​ under Minnesota's "modified comparative negligence" rule.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Minnesota uses a modified comparative negligence rule when determining whether you can recover from another driver. After hearing evidence, a jury assigns a percentage of fault for the accident to each driver. Only parties that are less than 50% at fault can recover anything for their injuries. So for example, if a jury finds you were 60% at fault for an accident, you wouldn't be able to recover anything.

This modified comparative negligence rule also reduces the amount of recovery based upon the percentage of fault assigned by the jury. For example, if you suffered $10,000 in damages, but the jury found you to be 30% at fault, you would only be able to recover $7,000 from the other party.

Auto Insurance Coverage

Under most circumstances, a licensed vehicle in the state of Minnesota must have liability, personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured motorist, and underinsured motorist coverage. This chart shows the minimum amounts required by the state.

Type of Coverage

Minimum Amount Required

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

$40,000 per person per accident ($20,000 for hospital/medical expenses and $20,000 for non-medical expenses such as lost wages, replacement services, etc.)

Liability

  • $30,000 for injuries to one person
  • $60,000 for injuries to two or more people
  • $10,000 for property damage

Uninsured Motorist

  • $25,000 for injuries to one person
  • $50,000 for injuries to two or more people

Underinsured Motorist

  • $25,000 for injuries to one person
  • $50,000 for injuries to two or more people

Types of Damages

If you are injured in an accident, the court system will divide your damages into two different types: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are typically the type of damages you have received a bill for and include the cost to repair your vehicle, the cost to rent another vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired, any lost wages, and any medical expenses you might incur. Economic damages are recoverable through your PIP coverage.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are harder to calculate and include damages such as disability or disfigurement, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. These damages are not recoverable through your PIP coverage; they are only available if you are in one of those situations in which you can sue an at-fault driver.

The following are categories of typical motor vehicle damages:

  • Wage loss
  • Loss of companionship
  • Medical bills and medical expenses for medical care
  • Vehicle repair or replacement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability or disfigurement

Statute of Limitations and Limits on Damages

Minnesota has a complicated set of deadlines that dictate how long a driver may wait before bringing a claim for damages. This is known as the statute of limitations for car accidents.

Injured parties must bring a no-fault car insurance claim within six months of the accident. Should an injured party's damages exceed their no-fault insurance coverage, that party must bring a claim for personal injury damages within two years of the accident and must wait no longer than six years to bring a claim for property injury.

Once an injured party has navigated through the legal system and established that she has the right to recover damages under Minnesota's fault laws, Minnesota does not impose any kind of damage cap on the amount of damages recoverable.

Have Specific Questions About Minnesota Car Accident Compensation Laws? Ask a Lawyer

Minnesota may make it tough to recover for your injuries if you are at fault in the accident, but you should not give up hope. If you've been injured in an accident in Minnesota, the modified comparative negligence rule and the lack of damage caps can make it difficult to evaluate the strength and value of your claim. That's why it's best to speak with a local car accident attorney who can explain how Minnesota car accident compensation laws apply to the facts of your case.

Forming an attorney-client relationship with an experienced personal injury lawyer at a law firm can help you better navigate the car accident claims process. If you do need to bring a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault party, a good car accident lawyer can represent you in court and help you litigate personal injury claims. Many personal injury attorneys who handle car accident cases provide free consultations. Keep in mind the statutory time limits.

Want on-demand legal guidance when an accident happens? The award-winning TurnSignl app has launched in Minnesota!

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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