Should you be affected by personal injury, your life can be changed forever. Personal injury cases seek to protect and compensate you, should you or your property be harmed or injured because of another's actions or failure to act.
The Claim Jurisdiction
Personal injury lawsuits may be filed in the state courts in the county where the injury occurred, or where those involved in the incident are located. Injury cases that do not exceed $7,500 should be filed in Minnesota's small claims court.
The Statute of Limitations
Every state has its own time limits on filing a personal injury claim. In Minnesota, the time period is typically six years from the date of injury. Strict liability has a four-year limitation. Wrongful death cases have a three-year time period. In defective products, six months is the limit. Medical malpractice has a four-year statute of limitations.
Personal Injury Procedure
You can take on personal injury cases yourself, but it may be wise to seek the help of a lawyer, as court can be complicated. Most attorneys will not take money in personal injury, unless you win the case. The process is:
- You find and fill out a complaint.
- You file the complaint and become the plaintiff in a lawsuit.
- The person who you filed against is the defendant.
- The defendant is served the legal documents about the case.
- Case facts are gathered in a process called discovery.
- Preliminary motions, or requests, may be made in early stages of the suit.
- An expert witness may be hired if applicable.
- This person will be disclosed and deposed.
Before court actually begins, you have options to arbitrate or come to an agreement. Many cases are settled this way. Only a small number of personal injury cases end up in a full trial.
Personal Injury Trial
The trial begins with jury selection, if applicable. Opening statements are made and often counterclaimed. You will reply to counterclaims. The jury or judge then considers the information. A verdict is reached. Damages may be awarded.
Damages and Comparative Negligence
Damages compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement and disability. Minnesota's is a comparative negligence state. If you are found to be at fault partially, your damages will be reduced by that amount. If you are 50% or more responsible, you will be barred from recovery.
Appeals in Personal Injury
The appeal process occurs when a litigant in a case requests relief from judgments that are considered harsh or unfair. The appeal is a second chance. A brief must be filed within 60 days of judgment. The litigant may be seeking a reversal, amendment or new trial. The appellate court reviews then the lower court's decision and can either affirm the lower court ruling, reverse the ruling, or remand the ruling and send it back to trial.
The information in this article are for informational purposes. Seek advice from an attorney with questions about personal injury law.