Minnesota Negligence Laws
It's a classic case when you're stuck in traffic: you're caught in the middle of an intersection when the light turns yellow. A driver turning left across your lane tries to beat the light and collides with your car. Which one of you is at fault for your injuries, and do you have a legal claim based on negligence? If you're wondering how negligence cases work, and what laws the North Star State has regarding any possible recovery from your injuries, this is a good place to start.
This is a brief introduction to negligence laws in Minnesota.
General Negligence Law
Negligence claims are a legal attempt to determine whether a person had a duty of care to another and whether that person failed in fulfilling that duty. If so, they may be liable for any resulting injuries reasonably related to that person's negligence. Using the accident example, the other driver might be held liable for negligence because they hit your car.
Under Minnesota law, you may also be liable under a doctrine known as "contributory negligence," meaning that you contributed to the accident by trying to squeeze through the intersection. However, Minnesota follows the modified comparative negligence approach. This means that Minnesota does not bar your negligence claim so long as a judge or jury does not determine that you were more than 50% at fault for the accident/injuries. If you are found less than 50% responsible, you may recover damages but your claim will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
Negligence Laws in Minnesota
While all states have negligence laws, not all state negligence laws are the same. Minnesota's Negligence statutes are highlighted in the following table.
§ 604.01, et seq. of the Minnesota Statutes
Modified Comparative Negligence
Plaintiff's negligence reduces recovery proportionately, but if greater than 50%, recovery is barred
Contributory Negligence --Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery
Contribution Among Tortfeasors
Yes, two or more people may be severally liable and contributions shall be in proportion to the percentage of fault attributable to each, except in situations outlined by § 604.02
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
There are several elements of a negligence case. And in order to have a successful claim in court, you must prove each element:
- Duty: the other party owed a duty of care;
- Breach of Duty: the other party failed to meet that duty;
- Cause in Fact: but for the other party's failure, you would not have been injured;
- Proximate Cause: the other party's failure (and not something else) caused your injury; and
- Damages: you have actually been injured and suffered some loss.
Have Specific Questions About Minnesota Negligence Laws? Get in Touch with a Lawyer
Minnesota has a wide variety of personal injury and tort laws. Finding a Minnesota legal specialist in your area of injury can make all the difference. If you've been injured in Minnesota and you feel your claim may merit compensation, it's in your best interest to contact a local personal injury attorney today.
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