Minnesota’s Approach to Medical Malpractice Cases

Each day, residents all throughout the state of Minnesota seek some form of medical care whether routine, emergency or otherwise. In so doing, they put their trust in the hands of those that provide such care.

The right to obtain health care is important, but so is the right to receive proper care. When this does not happen, it may be necessary to seek compensation if a medical error occurs. An instance of medical negligence can be minor but can also lead to severe injuries or, in some cases, wrongful death. The potential for such consequences makes the need for assistance important.

What is legally a medical error?

Simply put, a medical error can be said to have occurred in any situation where an accepted standard of care was not provided. This may be an inappropriate action or the lack of an action.

Common examples of medical malpractice can include foreign objects left inside a patient's body after a surgery, an incorrect or missed diagnosis, failure to provide proper treatment and more.

In some situations, identifying whether or not the standard of care was in fact followed is not always clear. It is often upon this basis that many malpractice cases hinge.

What is the statute of limitations in Minnesota?

Every state has its own unique set of timelines in which a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. In Minnesota, the law allows for victims or their representatives to file claims within four years from the date that the cause of an injury took place. This can mean many things such as four years from the date than an injury actually occurred or four years from the date than an injury was first discovered. Wrongful death actions typically must be commenced within three years after the death occurs.

Damage caps and shared responsibility in Minnesota

Many states have placed limits on the amount of money awarded to plaintiffs for punitive damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Minnesota has no such caps. However, for any case in which the settlement is greater than $100,000, a special hearing is required to take place. This hearing is designed to identify whether the damage award should be paid in full in one lump sum or in a series of payment installments.

What to do if an error is suspected

Due to the subjective nature of the statute of limitations as well as the nature of the determination of a standard of care, prompt action is always advised. If you suspect that any negligence or error has taken place, you should consult with an attorney to learn more about your rights.