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What is a Wrongful Death Claim in Minnesota?

Losing a loved one is always a challenging and difficult experience. Knowing your loved one died as a result of another person’s negligence can make the situation even more emotional and difficult to accept. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, it is important to understand your rights.

In Minnesota, a wrongful death claim can arise when someone dies due to the negligence or wrongful act of another party. It is a way for surviving family members (called the heirs and next of kin) to seek compensation for the losses they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. Specific criteria must be met to be able to pursue a wrongful death claim in Minnesota. Our Minnesota wrongful death attorneys can help you better understand your rights and legal options.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

There are several vital elements that you must demonstrate when pursuing a wrongful death claim. These include:

The Victim Died

In order for family members to have a wrongful death claim, there must be the death of a human.

Wrongful Act or Negligence

The death must have resulted from the negligent, reckless, or careless actions of another party, for example an individual or a business. This could include actions such as car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, or other types of accidents.


You must show a clear connection between the defendant’s negligent and careless actions and the death. It must be shown that the defendant’s actions were a direct cause of the fatal injuries.


The surviving family members must have endured damages as a result of the death. Damages may include funeral expenses, medical expenses, loss of financial support, and other pecuniary losses.

Statute of Limitations

There is a time limit within which a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed. In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is generally three years from the date of death.

Finally, you must prove that you are an heir or next of kin of the deceased, which makes it so that you are legally entitled to file a wrongful death claim. In the aftermath of a wrongful death, our Minnesota wrongful death lawyers can help determine your legal rights.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Minnesota, the right to recover damages from a wrongful death claim is generally granted to specific individuals with a close relationship to the deceased person. The individuals legally entitled to recover damages from a wrongful death are set forth in Minnesota Statutes section 573.02. These individuals include:

  • Surviving Spouse;
  • Surviving Children;
  • Parents;
  • Other next of kin, such as siblings and grandparents.

Rather than allow each of these individuals to pursue a wrongful death claim on their own, Minnesota law requires that one person be appointed by the court to act as trustee (representative) for all of the heirs and next of kin.  The trustee can, but does not have to be an heir or next of kin.  Once the court has appointed a trustee, the trustee has the power to act on behalf of all of the heirs and next of kin by filing a wrongful death claim, starting a lawsuit, or settling the claim.  Our Minnesota wrongful death attorney can determine whether you are entitled to take legal action, and help get a trustee appointed, and pursue the wrongful death claim on your behalf.

Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases

In a wrongful death case, the surviving family members of the deceased can seek to recover several types of damages. These damages are meant to compensate them for their financial losses.

Economic damages in a wrongful death case may include:

  • Medical expenses related to the death;
  • Loss of household services the deceased would have provided;
  • The loss of income that the deceased would have contributed to the family; and
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

Non-economic damages in a wrongful death case may include:

  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before their death; and
  • Loss of advice, comfort, assistance, and protection provided by the decedent to the surviving heirs and next of kin.

Types of Accidents Leading to Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death cases in Minnesota can arise from various types of accidents. These include:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other collisions can result in severe injuries or death. These accidents can be caused by distracted driving, speeding, drunken driving, or other negligent actions.

Premises Liability Accidents

Slip and fall accidents, construction accidents, swimming pool accidents, and other accidents on unsafe premises can lead to wrongful death. These accidents can occur due to hazardous conditions, lack of proper maintenance, or inadequate security measures.

Medical Malpractice

When a medical professional fails to provide the necessary standard of care, resulting in death, a wrongful death claim can be pursued. This could include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, or other negligent actions.

Workplace Accidents

Accidents that occur in the workplace, such as falls from heights, electrocutions, machinery malfunctions, or exposure to hazardous substances, can result in wrongful death. Normally, if you are killed on the job, the family’s sole remedy is through the worker’s compensation system.  However, if a third party was at fault for causing the accident, you may have a wrongful death claim in addition to a worker’s compensation claim.

Dangerous Products or Medications

Defective products, including hazardous drugs or medical devices, can cause serious injuries or death. A wrongful death claim may be filed if a product manufacturer or seller fails to warn about the risks or implement a recall.

Defective Construction or Building Collapse

Construction accidents, including structural failures, inadequate safety measures, or negligence in design or construction, can lead to wrongful death. These accidents can occur on construction sites or buildings that fail to meet safety standards.

There are, unfortunately, many different types of accidents that can lead to a death.  If you are unsure whether you may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim, contact one of our experienced Minnesota wrongful death lawyers today for a free consultation.

Contact Our Minnesota Wrongful Death Attorney Today

At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we understand the impact of such a loss and are dedicated to providing compassionate and aggressive representation for our clients. With over 50 years of combined experience, Timothy Nelson and Matthew Nelson are highly skilled in handling wrongful death claims in Minnesota. We will guide you through the legal process while always keeping your best interests in mind.

Schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with our personal injury lawyer in Minnesota today to discuss your legal rights.

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