stopwatch with gavelThis is the next post in our discussion on the rights of victims in Minnesota personal injury cases. Our last article discussed the application of Minnesota’s comparative fault law to personal injury claims. Like many other states, Minnesota allows individuals to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for an accident. A personal injury attorney can determine whether you have a viable claim, so we recommend discussing your case with an experienced lawyer. In this article we will discuss the application of our state’s statutes of limitations, although we will limit our discussion to typical negligence cases and will not discuss the different statutes of limitations for intentional harms, “dram shop” claims, products liability claims, medical malpractice claims, and claims arising out of improper design or construction of improvements to real estate and similar specialized claims. Contact our Rochester lawyers immediately so you don’t risk exceeding the statute of limitations for filing your claim.

In Minnesota, as in other states, accident * cases must be filed within a certain amount of time. If the deadline is missed, a victim loses his or her right to file a lawsuit. Minnesota provides more time than many states, allowing most automobile-related personal injury claims to be filed up to six years after an accident. Many  states, on the other hand, require that claims be filed within two years or even as little as one year. There are two benefits to having a longer window of opportunity to file a lawsuit. First, people who do not initially realize their damages are severe enough to warrant filing a claim are afforded more time to learn about their rights and the extent of their injuries, lost wages and medical bills, and to timely file litigation, if necessary. Second, a victim of a serious injury has more time to receive medical treatment before a case must be filed. This extended treatment time allows, among other things, for a more accurate prognosis of one’s long-term medical need and a better appreciation of the financial consequences of the injury.

It also is important to understand how the negligence statute of limitations’ six-year time frame is calculated. Typically, the countdown begins the day after the accident (with some exceptions). Also, if the expiration date falls on a weekend, holiday, or other day the court is closed, the deadline is extended to the next business day. For example, a person injured on January 2, 2018 has until January 3, 2024 to file a lawsuit. This is because the six-year window does not “open” until the day after the accident (January 3, 2018) and the expiration date falls on a normal business day.

Though Minnesota’s statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims arising out of a negligent act is more generous than elsewhere, it’s best for people involved in an accident to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Waiting too long to speak with counsel can create problems. For instance, a defendant may claim that your injuries happened after the accident, not because of it.

Our Rochester personal injury attorneys are ready to assist people injured in an accident. We have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of our clients and take great pride in the level of service we provide. We also serve the following southeast Minnesota cities: Owatonna, Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, and Albert Lea, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.

*A note about language:

Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”