Minneapolis Wrongful Death Lawyer

Wrongful death is the most devastating outcome of negligence. When someone dies as a result of someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or intent to harm, the family members left behind may not know how best to carry on. One way they can seek justice is with a wrongful death lawsuit in Minneapolis. A lawsuit can lead to compensation and closure in the face of tragedy. The compassionate attorneys at Knutson + Casey can help.

If you recently lost a loved one, we first want to give you our heartfelt condolences. Members of our team have experienced similar losses and know how hard it can be to stitch your family back together after something or someone cuts a life short. We then want to give you our best recommendations for your legal options. We can investigate the death of your family member and help you pursue a just and fair settlement or verdict. With 25-plus years of personal injury experience in Minneapolis, we’re the legal team you need.

What is Wrongful Death?

According to Minnesota Statutes Section 573.02, wrongful death is any death the “wrongful act or omission” of someone else (or a corporation) caused. A wrongful act can be intentional or negligent. You can file a civil wrongful death claim on top of criminal charges if someone’s intent to harm killed your loved one. In many ways, a wrongful death claim is like a personal injury claim your loved one could have filed had the accident not resulted in his or her death. The case seeks to assign liability for the accident and compensate surviving family members for the decedent’s losses as well as their own. Common causes of wrongful death include:

  • Car accidents. Driver distraction, texting and driving, drowsy driving, driving under the influence, speeding, and reckless driving can all cause wrongful death. If your loved one passed away due to crash-related injuries, there may be a party liable for your losses. Possible defendants include another driver, a passenger, or a third party like a roadway maintenance crew or vehicle/parts manufacturer.
  • Medical malpractice. Medical professionals have high standards of care they must obey. Any breach of professional duty, causing the death of a patient, is grounds for a wrongful death suit. Wrongful death can stem from medication mistakes, missed or delayed diagnoses, surgical and anesthesia errors, birth injuries, and incompetence.
  • Defective products. A defective product like a seatbelt, airbag, piece of machinery, or other equipment can lead to wrongful death in the user. In a defective product wrongful death claim, the plaintiff(s) does not bear the burden of proving the manufacturer’s negligence. He or she must only prove that a defect existed, and that this defect caused the decedent’s death.
  • Unsafe premises. Dog bites, accidental drownings, and slips and falls are all examples of potential premises liability wrongful death claims. Property owners are responsible for the reasonable safety of visitors (and trespassers, if they are minors). Failure to keep a property safe, resulting in someone’s death, is cause for a lawsuit.
  • Workplace accidents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, on-the-job accidents killed 4,836 workers in 2015. That’s the equivalent of more than 13 deaths per day. Don’t settle for a workers’ compensation claim if your loved one died on the job. Find out if you can file a wrongful death claim instead.

Knutson + Casey has represented clients in several wrongful death suits. We have the experience and expertise to help you sort through even the most complex case. The cause of death doesn’t matter – we want to hear from you and listen to your story. While not every death is wrongful, many are and deserve legal attention. Our team can help you navigate state and local wrongful death laws and pursue compensation via settlement or a trial.

How Long Do I Have to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim in Minnesota?

As in any other state, Minnesota has laws setting a statute of limitations for pursuing a wrongful death claim. Here in Minnesota, you will have three years to file a wrongful death claim, beginning from the date the individual died. After three years, courts typically refuse to hear wrongful death cases. In the past, the only exceptions made to the statute of limitations have been regarding murder convictions where the family could make wrongful death claims outside the statute of limitations after the conviction.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Minneapolis?

Every state abides by different wrongful death laws when it comes to pursuing a lawsuit. Only certain people can file for wrongful death, within time limits and other restrictions. Speak to an attorney about your particular case before making a decision to file or not file on your own. Use this brief overview of Minnesota’s laws to get an idea if you are eligible to pursue a claim:

  • Filing restrictions. Not everyone can file for wrongful death. Only the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, parents, grandparents, or siblings may file. In Minnesota, you do not need a representative of the decedent’s estate to file a claim on your behalf. If you are one of the parties listed above, you may file your claim directly with the courts. However, you can request that the courts appoint a trustee to file for you.
  • Damages available. The damages for wrongful death differ from those in a typical personal injury case. The plaintiff(s) can receive compensation for the decedent’s medical costs and pain and suffering from the time of the accident to death as well as for their own losses. There is currently no cap on wrongful death compensation in Minnesota.

You don’t have to work through Minneapolis wrongful death laws alone. Self-representation can hurt your chances of receiving the best settlement or verdict possible. It also means taking on a burden of responsibility that you don’t have to accept. Pass this burden onto capable lawyers who make it their careers to assist families experiencing wrongful losses of life. Knutson + Casey is here to take your calls whenever you’re ready to discuss your situation.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

A common question we receive from new clients at Knutson + Casey is, “How much is my case worth?” While there is no formula that can tell you how the courts might decide to compensate your losses, there are certain types of damages you can seek compensation for in a wrongful death lawsuit. A conversation with one of our experienced attorneys can give you a more accurate depiction of the potential value of your case. Here are damages you could receive through a wrongful death civil claim:

  • Funeral and burial expenses. The courts may award these damages, within reason. They are to compensate your family for the costs of memorial services, cremation, funeral, and/or burial.
  • Medical treatment and care prior to death. If your loved one incurred any medical costs from the date of the accident to the time of death, the courts will award compensation for these expenses. They include surgeries, hospital stays, medications, and any other treatments related to the injury or illness.
  • Loss of the decedent’s financial support of the family. This includes lost wages, income, and benefits, as well as any potential earnings the decedent likely would have made were it not for his or her untimely death.
  • Loss of services. You may receive compensation for the loss of the decedent’s services, assistance, protection, and care. This can include housework as well as general familial care.
  • Loss of consortium. These losses encompass the decedent’s love, companionship, society, and guidance. The courts will award these most often in cases involving a surviving spouse and/or minor children.
  • Mental anguish, emotional distress, and sorrow of the surviving family members. The courts will calculate these intangible losses by multiplying your tangible, or economic losses, by a certain number that represents your degree of emotional harm.

To receive these damages, the plaintiff or trustee must prove to the court that the family has suffered these losses. An experienced wrongful death attorney can make this part of the legal process easier with evidence gathering, eyewitness interviews, medical documents, police reports, and expert witness testimony. At Knutson + Casey, we work hard to secure the best possible results for our clients. With many million-dollar cases in our firm’s history, we are confident in our abilities.

How Do I Prove Wrongful Death?

A successful wrongful death case hinges on the ability to prove four essential elements. Without the presence of any one of these elements, the case will likely not be heard as a wrongful death suit.

  1. A human being has died. This element is not difficult to prove on its own. Medical records, a death certificate, and a host of other documents likely exist by this time to adequately prove the death of the individual in question.
  2. Another individual or group’s negligence, or intent to harm, caused the death. Negligence refers to a situation where an individual or group had a responsibility to prevent injury to others and failed to do so. Alternatively, in the case of medical staff, caregivers, and other officials, the individual or group may have had an explicit duty of care to the deceased.
  3. Surviving family members are experiencing monetary damages as a result of the death. You must prove that the deceased has family members that depended on him or her to provide financially. Further, due to the wrongful death, family members are subject to financial woes they would not otherwise be experiencing if the deceased were alive.
  4. A personal representative for the estate of the deceased has been appointed. A representative that has been appointed to handle the estate of the deceased must be identified to seek financial and other damages on behalf of the estate.

Determining Pecuniary Loss

Pecuniary loss, or financial injuries, refers to the damages incurred by the loss of financial support, loss of services, or a future loss of inheritance, medical costs, and funeral expenses. The surviving dependents of the deceased are within their rights to gain compensation for damages associated with pecuniary loss.

The aim is to calculate the income the deceased would have earned throughout the rest of his or her natural lifespan, adjusting for illness. To calculate pecuniary loss, considerations include the age and health of the deceased, in addition to earning potential and remaining life expectancy. In the case of surviving minor children, courts usually add the loss of parental guidance.

What Are “Survival Actions” in a Wrongful Death Claim?

After discussing damages for the initial wrongful death claim, it is sometimes necessary to address survival actions. Often grouped with wrongful death claims, survival actions are simply personal injury claims that could have been made on behalf of the deceased if he or she had survived. The law refers to survival actions as such, because their terms survive the death of the individual and can result in damages.

Survival actions may include conscious pain and suffering experienced on the part of the deceased as well as lost wages experienced until the point of death. Lost wages are only applicable if the de-ceased died long after the incident that led to death. However, conscious pain and suffering damages due to injuries preceding death can be pursued regardless of the amount of time that passed. Of-ten the jury considers the degree to which the deceased was conscious, the severity of the pain he or she experienced, apprehension of death, and the duration of the suffering.

Contact Knutson + Casey for Caring, Compassionate Attorneys

Wrongful death lawsuits aren’t just about the money. They’re about seeking justice for those who cannot speak for themselves. They also place liability with the responsible party, shedding light on issues within an individual, corporation, or system that could prevent similar deaths from occurring in the future. As the surviving family member of a victim of wrongful death, it is within your rights and power to bring a claim against one or more involved parties. Come to Knutson + Casey, your hometown attorneys, for help with these cases in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Part of what makes our firm so successful throughout Minnesota is our people. Our attorneys are not only licensed and bonded – they’re caring, compassionate professionals who take the time to get to know each client they represent. You and your family need an ally during this difficult time. You need a confidant to listen to your story and tell you the best action to take in the aftermath of an untimely and tragic death. Knutson + Casey wants to fill this position in your life. If we believe you have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, we’ll help your case from beginning to end.

If you’re ready to speak with someone about your loved one’s negligence-related death, call (763) 259-3642 or contact us online. We offer free initial consultations so you can talk to an attorney at no cost or obligation.

If circumstances prevent you from coming to our office for a meeting, we’ll come to your home, hospital, or another location. Our primary goal is to help you and your family – we can do so with aggressive legal representation. Call today to discuss your potential wrongful death case in Minneapolis.