Questions about Tort Claims?
Tort Claims Specialist
Tort Claims and Standards Engineer
Traffic Engineering Sites
- ADA (TPAR)
- Approved Products
- Corridor Modeling
- Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
- Pavement Markings
- Pedestrians in Work Zones
- Speed Limits
- Tort Claims
- Traffic Safety
- Traffic Topics
- Trivia and Facts
- Work Zones
What is a Tort?
A “Tort” is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract and not criminal in nature, for which a court of law will provide a remedy in the form of money.
What is the Tort Claims Act of 1976?
In 1976, the Minnesota Legislature decided that the state should be held liable if they were negligent in performing their duties and passed the Tort Claims Act. This Act defines the conditions under which the State, its agencies and its employees may be held accountable for damages resulting from the State’s negligence.
Minnesota Statute 3.736 defines the parameters of a tort claim including the procedures, exclusions (immunities), liability limits, notice required, payment, liability insurance, and indemnification.
When is Mn/DOT liable for a “tort claim”?
Liability for a tort is the legal obligation to pay money for damages to the person who is injured or damaged. More than entity may be liable for damages rising out of the same incident to more than one claimant.
There are three elements of a tort claim.
- Mn/DOT has a legal duty to the public – to keep roads safe for travel.
- Mn/DOT breached that duty by falling below the standard of care – being negligent.
- The defect needs to be the proximate cause of the tort – damage incurred by claimant was caused by Mn/DOT’s negligence.
There also needs to be notice, either “actual” notification or “constructive” notification of the condition. The condition has to have existed long enough that we should have been notified or noticed it, and then a reasonable amount of time to afford Mn/DOT a reasonable opportunity to repair the condition or take precautions against the condition before we are considered negligent.
What does the Tort Claims Office do?
Our office is the liaison unit between Mn/DOT and the State Attorney General’s office and the Department of Administration’s Office of Risk Management. This office processes all claims and lawsuits involving torts against Mn/DOT.
We work with each District Office’s Traffic Engineer, who works within their District, to investigate claims and defend tort actions.
Since the State is self-insured, there is no insurance agency or investigative agency to perform these functions. The Tort Claims Section of Mn/DOT performs these functions.