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In our society, there will always be disagreements, disputes, and injuries that are often the fault of someone else. In the early days of history, people would settle disputes by physical violence. In the United States Of America, we have chosen to provide a more civilized approach where we bring our issues before judges and juries to be settled by those who our equals. There are many complex legal principles that once understood can give clients a better understanding of the legal system and their claim.
How To Start A Lawsuit:
Serve a Summons and Complaint on the defendant:
In order to start a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff will hire an attorney to file the lawsuit. The lawyer must investigate the claim and determine whether it will be a legitimate claim. The lawyer will write a summons and the complaint which will list all the facts and the law that defendant is believed to have violated. This is served on the defendant who then has 20 days to answer the complaint. At any time after serving the defendant with the summons and complaint, the case can be filed with the court and a judge will set up a scheduling order giving deadlines within which all the discovery will be completed and a trial date.
The plaintiff’s lawyer will write up questions called interrogatories asking for specific information that relates to the allegations written about in the complaint and requests for production of documents asking for specific writings that are in the possession of the defendant.
After receiving the answers to all of the above, the lawyers will then set up depositions for the parties and witnesses. A deposition is a meeting between the parties where each lawyer will ask questions of the person attending the deposition in front of a court reporter.
Once the discovery is complete and all the facts of the case are known, the judge will require that the parties mediate their case with a mediator. Approximately 85% of cases settle with a mediator.
If the case is not resolved through the mediation process, the case will go to trial and the lawyer must prove her client’s case by the “preponderance of the evidence.”
The following articles in our websites navigation describe the principles which are the foundation upon which our trial system is built:
NATIONAL TORT REFORM
In December of 2009, as the proposed health care is currently being debated, Tort Reform has been suggested as a way to cut medical costs. Unfortunately, the discussion has not addressed the 100,000 or more deaths or injuries per year as a result of medical mistakes. Instead of developing check lists and management systems that would be used for each patient to make sure they are not given the wrong medication, too much medication, wrong body parts surgically removed, etc. the discussion has focused on lawyers who hold medical professionals accountable ultimately making it less profitable to make mistakes on human beings than it is to make sure they are safe. Malpractice Myths Debunked.
MINNESOTA TORT REFORM:
Minnesota Tort Reform laws are the model for the country and significantly impact the amount of compensation awarded by a jury.
Loser Pays All - Minn. Stat. 549.01
Provides the right to recover costs as a “prevailing party (winner).” “The prevailing party (plaintiff or defendant) shall be allowed reasonable disbursements paid or incurred.”
Rule 68 Offer of Judgment – Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure 68
Defendants can make a formal written Offer of Judgment or Settlement to the Plaintiff, pursuant to Civil Procedure Rule 68 in order to settle the case. The Plaintiff can refuse the Offer Of Judgment and choose to go to trial. However, if she/he wins at trial but the jury award, after the deductions for comparative fault and the other collateral sources results in an amount less than the Offer of Judgment/Settlement Offer made to the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff will collect nothing and in fact will be forced to pay to the Defendant all the Defendant’s costs/expenses for the case.
Collateral Source Deductions – Minn. Stat.548.251
Money paid to cover the medical care and wage loss of an injured person must be deducted from the jury award https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=548.251
Comparative Fault – Minn. Stat. 604.01
If a jury determines the plaintiff’ had some fault in a car accident, for instance 15%, that percentage must be deducted from the jury award. If the plaintiff’s fault is 51% or more, the plaintiff loses. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/getpub.php?type=s&num=604.01&year=2006
Health Insurance Subrogation Right – Minn. Stat. 62A.095, Subd. 2
All health insurance benefits that have been paid for the care of an individual injured by the negligence of another must be fully re-paid unless the individual has not been fully compensated. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=62A.095&year=2009
Expert Affidavit required for every Health Care Provider Medical Malpractice Claim – Minn. Stat. 145.682
Before a medical malpractice claim can be sued out against a health care provider, an expert on the particular medical subject matter must be found and be willing to testify that malpractice took place. It requires that an expert affidavit of review summarizing the findings of the expert be filed with the Summons and Complaint followed up within 180 days with the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify, and a summary of the grounds for each opinion. Failure to comply with this statute results in mandatory dismissal of the claim.
The following article will explain in detail how Minnesota Tort Reform will specifically impact the jury verdict award: Tort Reform Impacts The Value of Your Case.
There are many influences in our society that discourage plaintiff’s success at trial. The pivotal case is the McDonald’s coffee cup case. There are many myths that have been built around this case. The following articles discuss the truth of what happened and how the myths spread about this case have influenced the juries.
Our Minneapolis Personal Injury Attorneys are experienced in resolving and litigating issues resulting from a wide variety of injuries, including: