Minnesota Wrongful Death Law
Summary Wrongful Death Law in Minnesota

Wrongful Death Statute Minnesota

Summary Wrongful Death Law. Minnesota law establishes that a cause of action arising out of an injury to the person dies with the person, except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 573.02 (1998), the wrongful death law / statute. Minn. Stat. § 573.01. Therefore, the only remedy available for claims resulting from decedent’s death would fall under the wrongful death statute, which provides that “recovery in the action * * * shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin * * * . Minn. Stat. § 573.02, subd. 1.

The Minnesota cause of action for wrongful death is created by statute, since there is not a cause of action for wrongful death at common law. See, Fussner v. Andert, 113 NW2d 355 (1962). The statute allows for a limited claim for the pecuniary loss resulting from the act of another, the statute does not provide for damages that are subjective such as emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Who is a Next-of-Kin?

Minnesota Statute 573.01, subd. 1, sets for that a trustee must be appointed to initiate or continue any claims. The trustee’s claim is for the exclusive benefit of the next of kin and surviving spouse of the deceased. The term “next-of-kin” is a term of art and is not the same as “heirs at law”. The next-of-kin, includes the spouse, siblings, parents, and children of the deceased. This has been expanded to include a presumptive “next-of-kin” relationship for grandparents. See, Minn. R. Gen Prac. 144.01. The Minnesota Supreme Court, in the case of Wynkoop v Carpenter, 574 NW2d 422 (Minn. 1998), held that all the next-of-kin may sue, and they go on to define “all next-of-kin” to include “blood relatives who are members of class from which beneficiaries are chosen under the intestacy statute.”

Wrongful Death Damages

If you are able to establish a claim for wrongful death, the determination of damages includes all damages available by law.  Minn. Stat. 573.02, Subd. 1 states “the recovery in the action is the amount the jury deems fair and just for all damages suffered by the decedent resulting from the injury prior to the decedent’s death and the pecuniary loss resulting from the death, and shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin, proportionate to the pecuniary loss severally suffered by the death. The court then determines the proportionate pecuniary loss of the persons entitled to the recovery and orders distribution accordingly. Funeral expenses and any demand for the support of the decedent allowed by the court having jurisdiction of the action, are first deducted and paid. Punitive damages may be awarded as provided in section 549.20.

Generally, there is a three year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims, unless it is a Underinsured Claim, UM, which according to the Minnesota Supreme Court, a six year statute of limitations applies to a wrongful death claim due to the contractural nature of the claim. See, Miklas v. Parrott, 684 NW2d 458 (Minn. 2004).

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Contact Us to Discuss Your Concerns

For a free consultation to discuss a potential wrongful death claim with a qualified attorney contact us now. To contact attorney Kenneth LaBore, directly please send an email to klabore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com, or call Ken at 612-743-9048.