Minnesota Personal Injury Settlements

A Jury Verdict Research study found that the median award in Minnesota in personal injury cases is an even $30,000. Minnesota personal injury plaintiffs receive an award in 67 percent of cases that go to trial.

The median compensation in Minnesota is somewhat below the national median of $38,179. I suspect Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Rochester verdicts inflate that average a bit. But because Minnesota has no-fault coverage (or PIP) that we discuss in detail below in motor vehicle wreck claims up to $40,000 ($20,000 for medical bills and $20,000 for economic loss) that is subject to the collateral source rule, Minnesota personal injury lawyers tend to have few small cases in Minnesota.

In other words, Minnesota law provides that awards are offset by collateral source payments (if the source of reimbursement does not have a subrogation right). So the gap between Minnesota’s median and the national median verdict is probably wider than the numbers reflect. Not surprisingly, U.S. Chamber of Commerce data found Minnesota juries to be the “15th best,” which means the 15th worst for personal injury victims.

Interestingly, the recovery probability in Minnesota tort suits is 67% compared to the national average of 53%. I would think that fewer smaller claims would lead to a lower recovery probability because fewer small cases rarely involve a liability dispute (which you would think would lower the recovery probability). Accordingly, it is fair to infer from the data that Minnesota juries are inclined to believe the Minnesota plaintiff’s claims as to how/why the crash/malpractice/injury occurred.

Although Minnesota juries are somewhat conservative, the big complaint that drug and device companies have about Minnesota is that its laws are favorable to personal injury victims.

There was an ABA Journal article, Lawsuits Travel Up North: Land of Ten Thousand Lakes Is Flooded With Thousands of Out-of-State Filings, that discussed the benefits of filing product liability claims in Minnesota, including Minnesota’s reasonable six-year statute of limitations in product liability cases that we discuss below.

While Minnesota personal injury lawyers rarely have seriously injured clients in a car accident that come to them years after the cause of action arose, this is a far more common occurrence in product liability cases because it sometimes takes a while for people to understand the connection between the negligence and their injuries, even if that information is available under the “know or have reason to know” standard.”

Recent Minnesota Verdicts

Below are medical malpractice and personal injury settlements in Minnesota in recent years.

  • September 2023 Minnesota: $110,000,000: A man fractured his leg playing soccer and subsequently experienced complications due to the center’s treatment, leading to numerous surgeries and life-altering consequences.  He hired a malpractice lawyer who sued the orthopedic center over the botched leg operation, which resulted in the patient undergoing over a dozen surgeries, enduring daily pain, and being left with a permanent limp. The jury initially awarded the patient a stunning $110 million in damages. You have to think they did not like those doctors.  A Minnesota federal magistrate judge reduced this amount, deeming it “shockingly excessive.” The judge stated that while the patient experienced significant pain and loss of dreams due to the center’s alleged negligence, the evidence presented did not justify such a high award for non-economic damages. Consequently, the judge has offered the patient the option to either accept a reduced award of $10 million or undergo a new trial on noneconomic damages. In addition to this, the patient will retain the $1.25 million awarded for economic damages from the initial trial. The initial award was noted to be the largest for pain and suffering in a Minnesota medical malpractice case.
  • October 2022 Minnesota: $44,267: A two-year-old girl was attacked and bitten by a dog while her parents were renting a cabin. The bite resulted in allegedly permanent facial scarring, but the small size of the verdict suggests that the scarring was not significant or disfiguring.
  • July 2022 Minnesota: $176,342: A woman suffered bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus, as well as disc bulging with radiculopathy, when her vehicle, stopped at a red light in the right-hand turn lane, was struck from the rear by a vehicle operated by the defendant. A jury in Hennepin County awarded $176k in damages, over half of which was for pain and suffering and the other half for medical expenses.
  • May 2022 Minnesota: $111,251,559: A 19-year-old male college student, fractured his left leg while playing soccer and underwent emergency surgery performed by the defendants. After the surgery, the plaintiff developed compartment syndrome resulting in the amputation of his leg. The jury awarded $111.2 million in damages, with $110 million being punitive damages. This is a massive verdict, the largest tort verdict in the history of Minnesota.
  • April 2022 Minnesota: $113,202: A man suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, which he claimed left him permanently disabled, after being struck on the head by a garage door while in the receiving area of a retail furniture warehouse club operated by the defendant. The plaintiff contended that the defendant was negligent in the maintenance and operation of the garage door, and its employees failed to exercise due care when he entered the store. The verdict is small for a permanent disability case, indicating that the jury didn’t fully believe the disability claim.
  • March 2022 Minnesota: $978,232: A 38-year-old male plaintiff with a history of numerous pre-existing health conditions claimed to suffer lumbar disc bulges with radicular pain, cervical and lumbar facet joint injuries, cervical and lumbar sprain, and headaches when his southbound vehicle was involved in a chain reaction collision initiated by the defendant. The jury awarded $978,232, which included $750,000 in future medical expenses.
  • September 2021 Minnesota: 295,733: A man was killed when his northbound vehicle, proceeding through an intersection on a green light, was struck by an eastbound tractor-trailer driven by the defendant. Liability was admitted, and his wrongful death lawsuit went to trial on damages only. A jury in Hennepin County awarded $295,733, which seems very low for a wrongful death truck accident case.
  • August 2021 Minnesota: $121,284: The plaintiff reportedly stopped and waited to make a left-hand turn along 5th Avenue South in Hopkins, Minnesota, when the defendant rear-ended him. The plaintiff claimed numerous unspecific injuries to his back and neck, and the jury awarded $121k.
  • October 2020, Minnesota: $250,000: A man was hit by a car in Scott County.  He settled with the defendant for $30,000, but he had an uninsured motorist policy with State Farm and refused to pay.  State Farm blamed the plaintiff for the crash.  The jury found the other driver was mostly at fault for the crash and he received a $250,000 payout as compensation for his injuries under a high-low agreement that was reached before trial.
  • February 2020, Minnesota: $173,504 Verdict: A man sustained a traumatic brain injury and a neck injury after his vehicle was rear-ended. His TBI caused headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, and imbalance. He underwent surgery to treat his neck injury. The man sued the other driver for falling asleep at the wheel, resulting in a collision that caused his permanent injuries. He also sued their employer for vicarious liability. The Dakota County jury awarded $173,504. This consisted of past health care expenses, lost wages, pain, disability, and disfigurement. However, they did not award him future damages, which is a pretty tough outcome in a case like this.
  • February 2020, Minnesota: $974,215 Verdict: A 57-year-old motorcyclist hit a grass median after sand and gravel that fell out of a dump truck obstructed his view. He suffered left ankle, left leg, right shoulder, and rib fractures. The man underwent multiple surgeries to treat these injuries. He sued the dump truck’s driver for reckless operation of his vehicle by causing debris to fall out of the truck. The Shelburne County jury returned a $974,215 verdict.
  • January 2020, Minnesota: $1,719 Verdict: A man was rear-ended at an intersection as he attempted a left turn. He sustained permanent aggravation to a pre-existing lumbar spinal injury. The man sued the other driver, who denied negligence and contested the injury’s nature and extent. An Anoka County jury awarded a $1,719 verdict, which was only for medical expenses.  Not a big case but how can the pain and suffering amount to zero? But this was another high-low agreement, and the plaintiff received $30,000 under the agreement despite the loss.  (Good job by Plaintiff’s counsel for getting that agreement.)
  • November 2019, Minnesota: $11,756 Verdict: A man suffered unspecified neck and back injuries after his vehicle was rear-ended. He sued the other driver for following his vehicle too close and failing to pay attention to the road. The other driver disputed the damages’ extent. A Ramsey County jury awarded the man $11,756.  The award was $2,000 for pain and suffering.  The rest was for the victim’s medical bills. The plaintiff’s lawyers were Michael B. Lammers and Taylor Cunningham with Heimerl & Lammers in Minneapolis.
  • November 2019, Minnesota: $400,000 Settlement: A man sustained a traumatic brain injury, left rib fractures, and a kidney injury after his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck that failed to yield the right-of-way. At that time, he escorted a funeral procession.  His rib fractures caused lung contusions, hydropneumothorax, pneumonia, and MSSA. The man’s kidney injury caused hyperglycemia. He sued the pickup truck’s driver for entering the funeral procession and passing him on the right. The man also claimed that the driver’s negligence was the direct cause of his injuries. Before trial, the parties agreed to a stipulated $500,000 limit. A Hennepin County jury found the pickup truck driver 80 percent liable, and the man 20 percent liable. The court entered a final judgment of $400,000, which was 80 percent of the stipulated $500,000.
  • October 2019, Minnesota: $231,000 Verdict: A man suffered undisclosed injuries to his head and L5-S1 disc after an underinsured motorist struck his vehicle. He underwent surgery to repair his L5-S1 injury. He sued his UIM insurer State Farm. The jury awarded him $231,000.
  • September 2019, Minnesota: $85,000 Verdict: A driver suffered undisclosed injuries to their neck, back, and elbow after another driver failed to yield right-of-way at an intersection. Their elbow injury necessitated surgery. The jury awarded $85,0000.
  • January 2013, Minnesota: $283,000 Verdict: Plaintiff was a front-seat passenger in her friend’s compact car on their way to a local college. While at an intersection, the car veered off the roadway and entered a holding pond on the side of the road. The depth of the pond was deep enough to nearly submerge the vehicle and crack the front windshield.  Following the accident, a chiropractor treated the plaintiff for sprains and strains in her cervical and lumbar spine and soft-tissue damage in her neck.  The woman hired a Minnesota personal injury lawyer who filed suit, alleging she experienced terrifying memories and nightmares after the accident and began treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The plaintiff claimed that because of the accident, she is afraid of driving, has withdrawn from “all aspects of normal life,” and has found the fear has crippled her ability to seek gainful employment. She hired a Minnesota car accident lawyer and sued the driver of the car and the driver’s mother, who was vicariously responsible as the vehicle owner. The plaintiff’s treating chiropractor and psychiatrist confirmed her injuries (physical and mental, respectively) had been caused by the accident and would require ongoing, if not permanent, treatment.  The jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her $283,000.minnesota injury verdicts
  • July 2012, Minnesota: $500,000 Settlement: The twenty-nine-year-old decedent arrived at the emergency department of the defendant complaining of respiratory distress. The triage nurse noted shortness of breath and severe distress and shortly after that placed the decedent by herself in a treatment room while the nurse went to secure a nebulizer treatment. When the nurse returned, the decedent was not breathing and was unresponsive. The staff attempted to resuscitate the descendent, but she soon suffered a hypoxic anoxic brain injury and ultimately died. The noted cause of death was acute asthma exacerbation complicated by acute respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest resulting in brain injury.  The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Minnesota. The family’s malpractice lawsuit alleged the defendants’ failure to recognize the condition as one that required immediate attention and fell below the standards of care.  The lawyers also alleged that had a physician immediately seen the descendent, she could have been intubated and would have survived. The defendants denied the allegations and argued the delay in treatment was a matter of minutes and that earlier involvement would not have led to survival.  The parties reached a wrongful death settlement during mediation for $500,000.
  • September 2011, Minnesota: $79,385 Verdict: Plaintiff was driving westbound on an interstate near an intersection. The plaintiff stops his vehicle because of traffic and is struck in the rear by the defendant’s vehicle, pushing the plaintiff’s vehicle into the one in front of him. The plaintiff claimed he suffered severe and permanent injuries in his neck and shoulders that caused persistent headaches. The jury found the defendant was negligently operating his vehicle and responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and awarded the plaintiff $79,385.  The plaintiff’s lawyer was Elliott Olsen.
  • September 2011, Minnesota: $3,250,000 Settlement: A bus returning from a casino was traveling on the interstate. En route, the bus went off the roadway and rolled over. Two passengers were killed, and twenty were injured. In a class action suit, the plaintiffs sued the bus company and driver for motor vehicle negligence and wrongful death.  The plaintiffs’ counsel accused the driver of falling asleep at the wheel because of an untreated condition of sleep apnea. They accused the driver of refusing treatment after his original diagnosis in 2001 and of lying about his condition on more than one occasion when renewing his commercial license. Plaintiff witnesses testified that his head nodded for a few minutes before driving off the highway. The defense counsel argued that many passengers saw the driver lose consciousness seconds before the accident. They noted that the driver was taken to the hospital after the accident and treated for bleeding esophageal varices. The providers found that this condition caused him to lose consciousness at the time of the accident. The case settled globally for $3,250,000.
  • September 2011, Minnesota: $3,290.59 Verdict: Plaintiff’s vehicle spun out on an icy highway shortly after being struck by the defendant. The plaintiff was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and the defendant is arrested for DWI with a .09 BAC. The plaintiff had a history of treatment for neck and back problems and had received an epidural cortisone injection in his back one week before the accident. The plaintiff claimed soft tissue injuries in his neck and back from the accident. His treating doctors limited any causal relationship between the plaintiff’s claimed injuries and the accident to treatments for between 12-16 weeks post-accident. The plaintiff’s car accident settlement is a measly $3,561.66.
  • May 2011, Minnesota: $15,671.54 Verdict: Plaintiff is stopped on a parkway and is rear-ended by an uninsured drunk driver. Plaintiff claimed the collision totaled her car and caused her injuries in her shoulders and knees that had to be treated with surgeries. She also alleged injuries to her neck and back besides suffering lost wages. She claimed the defendant who rear-ended her was negligent at the time of the collision. The jury awarded the plaintiff $15,671.54 for past pain, emotional distress, past wage loss, and healthcare expenses but did not find the Plaintiff sustained a permanent injury, nor was she disabled because of the accident.

It is hard to argue these are “sample” verdicts and settlements.  Our personal injury and malpractice lawyers have clearly cherry-picked some better results.  Still, I think these personal injury settlement examples are instructive in helping determine the value of these cases.

Minnesota Personal Injury Law

Below is a summary of some important aspects of Minnesota personal injury law that may apply to your case.

Minnesota Statute of Limitations

Minnesota likes to keep things complicated by having various statutes of limitations for personal injury claims depending on the type of claim. These are the general statutes for the various types of tort claims:

This means that a person injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence generally has two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule that can make the time shorter or longer.

One exception that helps plaintiffs is the discovery rule.  In Minnesota, the “discovery rule” allows for the statute of limitations for personal injury claims to begin running at the time the injury is discovered, or when it should have been discovered with reasonable diligence, rather than the date of the incident that caused the injury. This means that if a person suffers an injury due to another party’s negligence or intentional actions, but the injury is not immediately apparent, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim may be extended.

Our lawyers see too many victims assume that the discovery rule will always apply in their case regardless of the circumstances. While the discovery rule can extend the statute of limitations, it only applies in specific situations where the injury or damage was not immediately apparent or could not have been reasonably discovered at the time of the incident.

More generally, while statutes of limitations generally set a deadline for filing a lawsuit, there are many exceptions and variations to these rules.  So you want to talk to a Minnesota lawyer about your case, if only to get your deadline to file a lawsuit, given all the rules and exceptions.

Minnesota Statute of Repose

A statute of repose is a type of time limitation in civil law that limits the period within which a legal action can be brought, regardless of when the injury or harm occurred.

Unlike a statute of limitations, which generally begins to run when the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the injury, a statute of repose typically starts to run from a specific event, such as the date of the product’s manufacture, or the completion of a construction project.  So, a statute of repose sets a strict deadline for bringing a legal claim, cutting off the right to sue after a specific time period, regardless of whether the potential plaintiff knew about the issue.

In Minnesota, the statute of repose for personal injury cases is generally six years from the date of the alleged injury. This means that, with certain exceptions, a claim must be brought within six years of the date the injury occurred, even if the injury was not immediately discovered. However, the statute of repose is subject to several exceptions, such as cases involving medical malpractice or exposure to hazardous substances, which may have different limitation periods.

The take-home message for all these deadline-to-file questions is to talk to a Minnesota personal injury lawyer about your unique situation to see what deadline to sue applies to you.

Comparative Negligence in Minnesota

Minnesota is a comparative negligence state, which means that in personal injury cases, fault can be allocated to multiple parties, and damages can be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault assigned to each party.

Minnesota Statutes section 604.01 provides that the court shall determine the percentage of fault of each party, and the total amount of damages shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault assigned to the plaintiff. If the court determines that the plaintiff’s fault was greater than the fault of the other parties, the plaintiff may not recover any damages.

Unlikely many states with comparative negligence, Minnesota has modified joint and several liability. Under Minnesota law, a defendant is jointly and severally liable for damages if that defendant is found to be 51% or more at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries. If the defendant is found to be less than 51% at fault, the defendant is only severally liable for the percentage of fault assigned to them.

Minnesota Car Accident Law

In Minnesota, the statutory scheme for auto accident claims is a “no-fault” system. This system requires all drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. This coverage provides benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

Under Minnesota’s no-fault insurance law, insurance companies must cover all losses resulting from injuries caused by the use or maintenance of a motor vehicle. This includes paying for reasonable and necessary medical expenses. The law specifies that any no-fault insurance claims totaling $10,000 or less must go through binding arbitration. No-fault benefits can be influenced by any applicable deductibles, exclusions, disqualifications, and other conditions as outlined in the statute.

But Minnesota law under Minn. Stat. § 65B.51, established an easy path to step outside of the no-fault system and bring a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In Minnesota, an injured person may pursue a liability claim if their medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs exceed a certain threshold. This threshold is currently set at $4,000 in economic damages (not pain and suffering), and the injury results in:

(1) permanent disfigurement;

(2) permanent injury;

(3) death; or

(4) disability for 60 days or more.

Minnesota Truck Accident Law

Minnesota’s statutory scheme governing truck accidents is primarily found in the Minnesota Motor Vehicle Code. This code sets out the rules and regulations that truck drivers and trucking companies must follow while operating their vehicles on the state’s roadways.

Some of the key provisions of the Minnesota Motor Vehicle Code that apply to truck accidents include:

  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Requirements: Truck drivers in Minnesota must hold a valid CDL and meet certain age, experience, and training requirements.
  • Hours of Service (HOS) Rules: Truck drivers are subject to federal and state HOS regulations, which limit the amount of time they can spend on the road without taking a break.  So many truck accidents in Minnesota are cause by truck drivers who are not adequately rested.
  • Weight and Size Limits: Minnesota limits the weight and size of trucks that can operate on its roadways. Overweight or oversized trucks may be subject to fines and other penalties. These trucks are at more risk for rollover and other crashes.
  • Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection: Trucking companies must properly maintain their vehicles and conduct regular safety inspections to ensure that they are safe for operation.
  • Liability Insurance Requirements: Trucking companies must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover damages and injuries that may result from accidents.  Minnesota’s minimum requirements are not significant, but federal law requires commercial trucks transporting non-hazardous property in interstate commerce to carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance. Trucks carrying hazardous materials may need to carry up to $5 million in coverage, depending on the type and amount of hazardous materials being transported.

Failure to comply with these regulations can sometimes be used as evidence of negligence in a truck accident lawsuit in Minnesota.

Minnesota Wrongful Death Settlements

To file a wrongful-death lawsuit, the plaintiff needs to take two key steps: (1) designate a trustee who will represent the interests of the deceased person’s closest relatives in the lawsuit, and (2) initiate the legal action within a three-year period following the date of the deceased person’s death.

A few closing thoughts about Minnesota wrongful death settlements:

  • There is no cap on damages
  • The beneficiaries under the wrongful death law in Minnesota are the surviving spouse and children of the deceased person, and/or the deceased person’s parents, grandparents, and siblings. This is pretty typical, except for the rule allowing siblings to recover.
  • The wrongful death statute of limitations in Minnesota, in most cases, is three years.

Minnesota Medical Malpractice Law

Let’s drill down on some of Minnesota’s malpractice law:

What a Malpractice Plaintiff Needs to Prove

A malpractice plaintiff in Minnesota must establish three critical elements with expert medical testimony: (1) the standard of care that should be applied to the defendant’s conduct, (2) a departure from that standard by the defendant, and (3) a direct causal link between the defendant’s departure and the plaintiff’s injury.

Expert Witness Required in Almost Every Malpractice Case

To support these claims, the plaintiff’s expert witness must possess both relevant educational credentials and practical experience related to the specific medical context of the case. This includes familiarity with what is typically done by physicians in similar situations to those faced by the defendant. The court has broad discretion to decide if an expert is qualified to testify, emphasizing that practical experience in the particular medical procedure or treatment at issue is crucial for establishing the expert’s credibility and the reliability of their testimony.

Minnesota Medical Malpractice Cap

Minnesota does not have a malpractice cap.

Does Minnesota Have a Deadline to File Medical Malpractice Claims?

Medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within four years of the date that the cause of action accrued. 

Minnesota Birth Injury Law

Our law firm handles many birth injury lawsuits. So we have a separate page dedicated to Minnesota birth injury lawsuits.

Biggest Mass Torts in Minnesota in 2024

The mass torts Minnesota plaintiffs are bringing in 2024 include:

Hiring a Minnesota Personal Injury Lawyer

Our law firm handles severe injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Minnesota, working with trusted Minnesota personal injury lawyer colleagues throughout the state.  We compensate our Minnesota lawyers out of our attorneys’ fees.  Does this cost you anything?  No.  You pay no additional contingency fees for having two law firms instead of one.  And you only owe a fee if you get settlement compensation or a jury payout for you.

If you have an injury or wrongful death claim in Minnesota, get a free no-obligation case evaluation or call our attorneys today at 800-553-8082.

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