In order to bring a successful negligence claim in Minnesota, the plaintiff must prove that a duty existed on the part of the defendant, the defendant breached that duty, the defendant’s breach of duty caused injury, and damages exist as a result of the injury.
Modified Contributory Negligence
The law in Minnesota (Minnesota Statute § 604.01, subd. 1) allows a plaintiff to recover damages for personal injury caused by the negligent actions of another as long as the plaintiff was 50% or less at fault for the injury. If this is the case, the plaintiff’s damage award will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
For example, if a plaintiff claimed $100,000 in total damages and 20% of fault was attributed to the plaintiff for their injury, the plaintiff would be able to recover $80,000 of the $100,000 award. If the plaintiff is found to have been 51% or more at fault, the plaintiff may be barred from recovery.
Joint & Several Liability
Minnesota follows a modified system which states that defendants who are deemed by a court to have been 50% or less at fault are not jointly and severally liable with other defendants. Such a defendant is only required to pay for his percentage of fault.
Joint and several liability is applicable when:
- a defendant is greater than 50% at fault,
- a defendant is acting in a common scheme or plan,
- a defendant commits an intentional tort, or
- a defendant is liable under certain environmental protection statutes
Where one defendant has paid more than their proportional share of liability that defendant has the right to seek contribution against any other joint defendant who has not paid their proportional share.
Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Actual damages are meant to reimburse the plaintiff for out-of-pocket expenses for items such as medical expenses. General damages may also be awarded for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of opportunity, and loss of future income.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff.
To obtain an award for punitive damages, the plaintiff must make a showing that a jury could reasonably find that there is clear and convincing evidence that the acts of the defendant show a deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others.
There is not a statutory cap on punitive damages in Minnesota.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Minnesota. Should you have a question/concern specific to Minnesota law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Minnesota.