Minnesota’s Wrongful Death Laws
Before contacting an attorney, we recommend you understand the basics of Minnesota’s wrongful death laws.
Who May File
Minnesota only allows surviving individuals (the heirs and next of kin) with these relations to the deceased to file for a wrongful death claim:
Recognizing the difficulty of each family member bringing a claim for their own individual damages, the law requires that a suitable and competent trustee be appointed by the court to bring the claim on behalf of all claimants. This trustee is typically a family member and owes a fiduciary obligation to all heirs and next of kin equally. Upon a recovery of money, the court must approve the distribution of the proceeds, either by agreement of all recipients, or through a hearing to determine the proportionate loss suffered by each claimant.
Statute of Limitations
Generally,a wrongful death claim must be settled, or a lawsuit started,within three years of the accident causing the deceased’s death. You will lose the right to bring your claim if the statute of limitations has expired. Exactly when the statute of limitations period expires requires an in depth analysis of the facts of the case by an experienced wrongful death attorney. That is why it is important that you speak to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible so that your rights are protected.
What You Can Claim
Minnesota law has limited recoverable damages in wrongful death cases to the “pecuniary” loss sustained by the surviving heirs and next of kin of the decedent. In determining the amount of pecuniary loss suffered, the following factors are to be considered:
- The past financial contributions of the deceased to his or her family;
- The life expectancy of the deceased;
- The health, age, habits, talents, and success of the deceased;
- The occupation of the deceased;
- The past earnings of the deceased;
- The likely future earning capacity of the deceased had he or she lived;
- The deceased’s personal living expenses;
- The legal obligation of the deceased to support the surviving family members;
- All reasonable expenses incurred for medical expenses incurred before death;
- All reasonable funeral and burial expenses;
- The counsel, guidance, and aid the deceased would have given to family; and
- The advice, comfort, assistance, and protection that the deceased would have provided had he or she lived.
All of these factors must be analyzed by a wrongful death attorney when determining the value of your wrongful death claim.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?
The untimely loss of a family member is tragic, but in order for a wrongful death claim to be possible, the death must be as a result of the negligence or carelessness of another. Nelson Personal Injury, LLC can assist surviving family members with these incidents.
Car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents are the most frequent causes of wrongful death. Many of these are caused by the following.
Drunk driving is one of the most common causes of fatal car accidents and wrongful death cases. Intoxicated drivers have hindered judgment, slowed reaction times, and loss of bodily control, making it more likely that they will cause a fatal car accident.
Like drunk driving, drowsy drivers have slowed reaction times and can lose control of the vehicle if they fall asleep. Drowsy driving is typical among those who work unusual shifts, long hours, or work in fields such as long distance transportation.
With the rise of cell phones and smart phones, distracted driving has skyrocketed in recent years. Texting while driving, calling while driving, internet searches, and use of other social media platforms has become a leading cause of fatal crashes. While many states, including Minnesota, have enacted “hands free” laws, the problem of distracted driving continues to persist.
If you can prove that your loved one died at the hands of a drunk driver, drowsy driver, or distracted driver—whether your loved one was a driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian—you can contact Nelson Personal Injury, LLC. Our skilled and experienced wrongful death attorneys can investigate the case to determine if you are entitled to compensation.
There are many other types of accidents that can lead to wrongful death claims. These include, but are not limited to:
Workplace accidents can be fatal. This is especially true in jobs that involve working with and exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy machinery and equipment. If someone is killed on the job, they may qualify for a workers compensation claim, regardless of who is at fault for the injury. In certain circumstances, such as if there is a third party who is responsible for causing the person’s death, there may also be a wrongful death claim against the third party
The wrongful death attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury, LLC can investigate and analyze the facts of the situation to determine if a wrongful death claim may be brought
While rare, medical malpractice occurs when the deceased’s doctor, surgeon, or any other medical professional is negligent by breaching their standard of care. Examples of medical malpractice are if a surgery goes wrong, diagnosis of medical conditions are missed, or if there is improper administration of prescription drugs.
Medical malpractice claims can be complex, so contact Nelson Personal Injury, LLC to determine whether you may have a wrongful death claim based on medical malpractice.
Recreational Vehicle Accidents
Improper and negligent operation of recreational vehicles, such as boats, four wheelers, ATVs, or snowmobiles can be the cause of fatal accidents. The owner or operator of any of these such vehicles that causes the death of another may be liable for the death. Finding insurance coverage for these types of accidents is often difficult, and that is why it is important that you contact an experienced wrongful death attorney to perform a thorough investigation to determine if you have a valid wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims can also result from the use of a defective or dangerous product. In such cases, it is possible that the manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer can be held responsible for the wrongful death. Defective and dangerous products are the cause of thousands of injuries and deaths each year.
While also rare, animal attacks, such as dog bites, can cause serious injuries that may result in a loved one’s death. Unfortunately, this is especially true when the attack is on a small child. Even if the attack wasn’t severe, if the animal is not properly vaccinated, the animal could have the rabies virus, which is fatal if not treated immediately.
How St. Cloud Wrongful Death Attorneys Prove Negligence
At Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we investigate each wrongful death claim and collect the necessary evidence to build your case. In order to prove negligence, you have to show four things: duty, breach of that duty, causation, and damages.
Duty of Care
To prove duty of care, we will have to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. That duty of care is typically a duty to act as a hypothetical ordinary or reasonable person would act in the same circumstances. For example, a driver may have a duty to operate their vehicle in a safe manner while on the road.
Breach of Duty
Breach of a duty occurs when a person takes some action that an ordinary or reasonable person would not take in the same circumstances, or does not do something that an ordinary or reasonable person would do in the same circumstances. An example of a breach of duty would be if a driver fails to operate their vehicle in a safe manner while on the road.
You must also prove the defendant’s breach of the duty caused your loved one’s death
Finally, you must prove that the heirs and next of kin of the deceased have sustained damages as a result of the death. As noted above, the recoverable damages in a wrongful death case is the pecuniary loss of the heirs and next of kin of the deceased.
How a Minnesota Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
When looking for a wrongful death attorney, you’ll need an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable about Minnesota’s wrongful death laws. If you choose Nelson Personal Injury, LLC, we will guide you through the entire process so that you understand not only what we are doing, but why we are doing it.
Timothy Nelson and Matthew Nelson are experienced Minnesota wrongful death attorneys with over 50 years of combined experience. Apart from our experience in handling wrongful death claims, we take great pride in providing compassionate and aggressive representation to those who have lost a loved one through no fault of their own. We have spent our entire careers representing individuals who have been injured or killed due to the negligence of others Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.
The attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury, LLC will assist you throughout the entire process, answering your questions and explaining your rights. While our clients appreciate the support we provide, we know you really want results. Here are a few examples of cases where we helped clients with their wrongful death claims.
Our clients lost a 72-year-old family member, who was run over and killed as she was crossing the street.
The driver’s insurance said the driver wasn’t at fault for the accident. But when Nelson Personal Injury, LLC got a hold of the case, we used depositions and other discovery to prove the driver was at fault. The insurance company then offered their liability insurance limits of $100,000. We also pursued an underinsured motorist claim against the deceased’s own insurance company, recovering the additional limits of $30,000.
Our client lost a 40-year-old family member after he was killed in an auto accident when a semi-truck driver pulled out in front of him. After filing a wrongful death claim, the family received $400,000 in compensation.
Another man in his 40s was killed by an uninsured drunk driver. The deceased was standing on the side of the road near his motorcycle when he was hit and killed.
This case was challenging for Nelson Personal Injury, LLC; we had to prove the deceased was a pedestrian, and not on his motorcycle (if he were on his motorcycle, he wouldn’t have been able to collect on his uninsured motorist policy).
Through our investigation, we were able to prove that the deceased was a pedestrian, and his case fell under his uninsured motorist policy. His surviving family members were able to recover the policy limits of $100,000.
Call Our Minnesota Wrongful Death Lawyers For Help
Losing a family member is difficult, especially when it’s due to the negligence or carelessness of another. As surviving family members, you have rights.
When you hire the attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury, LLC to handle your wrongful death claim, we understand how difficult of a time for your family it can be. However, you can rest assured you are getting an experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate team that will do everything it can to obtain justice for your family.
Fill out our contact form for a free consultation.