Have you suffered the loss of a loved one due to wrongful death?
Losing a loved one is a painful and devastating experience, regardless of the cause. However, when the death is due to human error, emotional suffering is accompanied by a feeling of injustice.
Wrongful death is any death that occurs due to negligence or an intentional act. A wrongful death may result from any type of personal injury situation, like a: motor vehicle accident, work-related accident or illness, slip and fall, medical malpractice, or a defective or harmful medication.
Usually, close relatives of the deceased person are allowed to file a wrongful death claim against the defendant to seek compensation for any emotional or financial damages that could have resulted from the loss.
The attorneys at Sand Law LLC have extensive experience recovering compensation for Minnesota clients who have lost a loved one due to wrongful death. Our lawyers will evaluate your case from a variety of angles to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses, mental and physical pain and suffering, lost wages, and funeral expenses. We serve clients throughout Minnesota from our St. Paul, White Bear Lake, and Woodbury offices.
What is needed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit?
In order to prove the defendant guilty of a wrongful death, the court must determine that the death has happened because of negligence or because of the defendant’s intent to cause harm.
Additionally, it must be proven that members of the deceased’s family have suffered emotional and financial damages due to the death. Such damages might include medical treatment costs, funeral costs, and even the loss of love and companionship that the deceased would have otherwise provided.
Minnesota wrongful death statute allows a representative of the decedent or the decedent’s estate to be appointed to sue for civil damages, which could include monetary losses and mental suffering.
Who Can Sue for a Wrongful Death?
Who can file a lawsuit for a wrongful death varies from state to state. In Minnesota, for example, living members of the deceased’s family, such as spouses and children, parents, siblings, and grandparents can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent.
Family members can ask the court to appoint another person as a “trustee” to pursue the claim on their behalf if they don’t want or are not able to do so themselves.
Each state allows spouses and children of the deceased person to initiate lawsuits since they are considered immediate family members and are directly affected by the wrongful death.
In case the decedent was a single adult, most states allow distant relatives, such as siblings, parents, and grandparents, to file a claim.
Causes of Wrongful Deaths
A death is considered wrongful if it occurs as a result of negligence, error, failure to act, or an intentional action.
There are many possible causes of a wrongful death some of which include:
- Car Accidents
- Semi-truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Slip and Fall
- Other Premise Liability Issues
- Work-related Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Defective Products
Minnesota Wrongful Death Statute
Section 573.02 of Minnesota State Statute defines wrongful death as any death “caused by the wrongful act or omission of any person or corporation.”
Often such deaths are due to professional negligence from physicians, for example, or companies failed to take safety measures in their facilities.
Generally, there is a time limit of three years since the date of the death to initiate a lawsuit. However, in some cases, this period can be extended.
Immediate relatives, such as spouses and children, have priority in seeking compensation for their financial losses and emotional distress. Financial losses can include funeral and burial costs, as well as decreased income and standard of living due to the death of the spouse or parent.
What is Pecuniary Loss?
Pecuniary loss refers to any material loss that the deceased and the family of the deceased might have experienced as a result of a wrongful death. Such losses are the most common reason for compensation because they are relatively easy to estimate.
Many factors are taken into consideration when measuring monetary losses, including the deceased’s income potential, standard of living, life expectancy, and value of their services for the society.
If the deceased was a parent, the loss of care and guidance towards their child would be counted towards the recovery.
Usually, wages earned at the time of death are the basis for the award; however, if the victim was unemployed, the court may determine the compensation based on their past earnings or income potential had they lived.
Wrongful Death of a Child
The death of a child is perhaps the most painful experience that a parent can go through, bringing severe emotional traumas and psychological distress. Therefore, compensation for the wrongful death of a child will be determined based on the emotional aspect of the loss rather than the financial.
If the child was a minor, the court would determine the award based on their age, health, life expectancy, and earning potential had they lived. However, the latter is difficult to estimate since any future earnings are difficult to predict.
Additionally, funeral costs and medical expenses will be counted towards the recovery.
Getting Compensation for a Wrongful Death
When estimating the monetary compensation for a wrongful death, the court must consider various factors and determine the overall “value of life” of the decedent.
However, this is never an easy task since all human lives are valuable, and death brings suffering and devastation to the families of the deceased people regardless of their income and societal status at the time of death.
Nevertheless, some of the factors to consider are:
- The life expectancy of the deceased, had they lived
- Their age and overall health at the time of death
- Their profession and value of services
- Their skills, talents, and habits
- Their income at the time of death
- Their income potential had they lived
- The number of children they had to take care of and the cost of raising them
- The cost of supporting their family
- Medical bills and funeral expenses as a result of the death
- The loss of future earnings, pension, and retirement benefits
- The loss of love, companionship, and guidance the deceased person could have provided for their family
- Any punitive damages for the defendant who caused the death
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in Minnesota
Losing someone close to you because of wrongful death feels devastating and unjust. While nothing can bring your loved one back, we can certainly help you seek compensation for your material losses and emotional suffering, so you can put all your effort into recovering.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at Sand Law LLC who have extensive experience practicing and writing about the law in Minnesota. The information in this article comes from this hands-on experience along with extensive research. For information about the author of this page, view our attorneys’ bios.