If you're injured by a private individual (or a private business) in Minnesota, you can usually bring a personal injury lawsuit in Minnesota's civil courts. But if you are injured by a government entity or agency, you'll need to follow a specific set of rules for bringing a claim, including strict filing deadlines. In this article, we'll cover the key points of filing an injury-related claim against the government in Minnesota.
Tort claims against the government in Minnesota are covered by Minnesota Statutes section 3.736. As a rule, the state "will pay compensation for" property damage, injury, or death "caused by an act or omission of an employee of the state while acting within the scope of office or employment." Some exceptions do apply, and those are listed in the same statute (and touched on below).
Minnesota's law represents a departure from the longstanding legal rule of "sovereign immunity," which entitles states to protection from liability for most kinds of harm resulting from government action (or inaction). Today, every U.S. state has waived, limited, or created exceptions to the rule of sovereign immunity, allowing injured citizens to seek compensation from the state in certain circumstances.
Minnesota's tort claims act allows injured persons to bring a variety of different injury claims against the government. These include:
Generally speaking, if the injury or loss was caused by a government employee who was acting in line with his or her duties, the injured person can seek compensation for the injuries or harm caused. (Learn more about Negligence and Fault for an Accident.) But you will generally not be able to seek compensation if your injuries resulted from, among other causes:
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of exclusions from government liability in Minnesota, only the highlights. For the full list, check out Minnesota Statutes section 3.736(3).
In order to file a claim against a state, local or municipal government entity in Minnesota, the injured person must first give notice of the claim -- usually to the state's attorney general and also to any employee whose negligence is alleged -- within 180 days of the date of injury. Notice should be given in writing and should state all relevant facts and allegations related to the loss, including:
Typically, the government will review the notice of claim and decide whether or not to pay it.
If the claim is rejected, the state's standard statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits apply. So, the claimant has 6 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit in court if it is a personal injury claim, 4 years for a Minnesota medical malpractice claim, and 3 years for a Minnesota wrongful death claim.
Damages in injury claims against the government in Minnesota are limited in ways that damages in other types of personal injury cases are not. For claims that arise after July 1, 2009, the total damages award is capped, or limited, to $1,500,000. If the claim involves an outdoor recreational activity run by a nonprofit, but funded by the state or subject to a permit issued by the state, damages are limited to $1,000,000. Learn more about Damages: How Much is an Injury Claim Worth?