Per United States Constitutional law, the adjudication of medical malpractice lawsuits, or professional negligence torts, occurs predominantly at the state-level under state-specific jurisdictional considerations. In short, each state has its unique set of laws, statutes, and case law that ultimately govern the trajectory of medical malpractice cases.
Minnesota Medical Malpractice Laws
About the remainder of the nation’s medical malpractice laws, Minnesota’s medical malpractice statutes are friendlier to injured patients than the national average. Moreover, the state’s courts recognize a broader range of theories under which an injured party can recover damages regarding claims cases emanating from medical malpractice-related damages. For example, in 2013, the state’s Supreme Court allowed a claim for medical negligence based on a party’s “loss of chance” of recovering from an illness due to a misdiagnosis by a physician.
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The Statutes of Limitations Periods Applicable to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Minnesota
While the state’s approach to medical malpractice cases may be more favorable to injured parties, all medical malpractice cases are governed by statutes and rules that will impact the ability of a patient to recover damages. Foremost, Malpractice claims in Minnesota must be filed brought against medical practitioners within four years of the date on which the action accrued. The date at which this four-year period begins to run is based on the discovery of the injury, which could be later than the causation date of the actual injury. Minnesota may be plaintiff-friendly, but on discovery, the courts of Minnesota tend to be very conservative. They will often look to the last date of treatment as the date when the statute of limitations starts.
The applicable statutes of limitation deadline will be different for persons who are adjudged to be mentally impaired, who have claims against the state or municipal entities, or for those who are underage. In the event of an infant or minor child who suffers injuries due to medical malpractice, the case will need to be initiated within seven years from the date of the action or one year after the injured party reaches the age of majority, whichever is shorter.
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Expert Testimony Requirements to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Minnesota
A medical malpractice claimant in Minnesota must file an “affidavit of merit” within 180 days of initiating a malpractice case to verify that a medical expert has reviewed the case and that the expert believes the defendant’s actions are potentially negligent actions that could constitute medical malpractice.
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Modified Comparative Negligence in Minnesota Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Minnesota utilizes a form of modified comparative negligence. If an injured patient’s fault for an injury is relatively greater than the defendant’s fault, the patient will have no opportunity to recover damages for that injury. If the injured patient’s fault is relatively less than the physician’s or caregiver’s fault, then his damages award will be reduced in proportion to his responsibility for the injury.
Several and Joint Liability in Minnesota Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Where several parties in Minnesota are responsible for a malpractice injury, the state’s modified form of joint and several liabilities specifies that a person who is 15% or less at fault for that injury will be liable for no more than four times the total amount of damages awarded to the injured party. For example, if one defendant is determined to have been only 5% responsible for an injury, this particularly liable defendant cannot be ordered to pay more than 20% of the total damages award.
The state of Minnesota does not hold hospitals accountable for any acts of negligence that occur through people that they do not employ or those who are independently contracted. A hospital may be responsible for malpractice damages if the physician whose negligence caused the injuries is employed by the hospital.
Limited to No Damage Caps Applicable to Medical Malpractice Verdicts in Minnesota
Minnesota does not cap the kind or amount of damages that an injured party may receive, and a jury in a medical malpractice case is given substantial latitude to determine an appropriate damages award. Judges have the authority to reduce awards that may be deemed to be excessive, but in practice rarely do so.
Periodic Payments as Part of Minnesota Medical Malpractice Damage Awards
Like a few other states, Minnesota gives its courts discretion to determine how damages are to be paid if the damages awarded are more than one hundred thousand dollars. The court will investigate whether the claimant can meet his financial needs based on a proposed payment schedule and whether periodic payments are in the best interest of all parties.
Medical malpractice law in Minnesota is less governed by statutes and relies more on common law and courtroom and general negligence lawsuit procedures. Injured parties who file claims for medical malpractice should consult with qualified plaintiff’s counsel as soon as is possible after the occurrence of a malpractice injury to confirm the validity of their cases and to preserve facts and evidence before too much time elapses and records and memories are impaired by a lapse of time.
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