What are “tort thresholds” and why must my claim reach them before I can sue the at-fault driver?

The Minnesota Legislature created "tort thresholds" when it created the laws for automobile accident claims. To ensure that only serious injuries access the legal system, Minn. Stat. 65B.51 requires that before a victim (or their survivors) can sue the at-fault driver, they must meet one of the following requirements:

1. Over $4,000 in medical expenses; OR
2. Suffered a permanent injury. A permanent injury is one that will continue throughout the victim's life, but it might improve or worsen; OR
3. Suffered from a permanent disfigurement, which injures the victim's appearance to a significant degree; OR
4. Suffered from a disability for more than 60 days. A doctor has to confirm that the victim's injuries have significantly impacted the victim's work, home, or social activities; OR
5. Died as a result of the accident.