What Can be Awarded for Damages
The measure for wrongful death damages is set by Minnesota Stat. 573.02., Subd. 1, an action to recover damages for a death caused by an intentional act constituting murder may be commenced at any time after the death of the decedent. Any other action under this section may be commenced within three years after the date of death provided that the action must be commenced within six years after the act or omission. 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.
Under a change in the Minnesota law in 2023, all damages including pain and suffering are now available.
There also May be a Claim for Injuries Suffered Before Death
Minn. Stat. 573.02, Subd 2., states: when injury is caused to a person by the wrongful act or omission of any person or corporation and the person thereafter dies from a cause unrelated to those injuries, the trustee appointed in subdivision 3 may maintain an action for all damages arising out of such injury if the decedent might have maintained an action therefor had the decedent lived. An action under this subdivision may be commenced within three years after the date of death provided that the action must be commenced within six years after the act or omission.
Punitive Damages Available in Some Cases
In cases where there is a reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others, punitive damages may be available. Minn. Stat 520.21, Subd. 1(a) states:
(a) Punitive damages shall be allowed in civil actions only upon clear and convincing evidence that the acts of the defendant show deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others.
(b) A defendant has acted with deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others if the defendant has knowledge of facts or intentionally disregards facts that create a high probability of injury to the rights or safety of others and:
(1) deliberately proceeds to act in conscious or intentional disregard of the high degree of probability of injury to the rights or safety of others; or
(2) deliberately proceeds to act with indifference to the high probability of injury to the rights or safety of others.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you have concerns about wrongful death damages in a case concerning the death of someone in your family contact attorney Kenneth LaBore for a free consultation to discuss you questions and options at 612-743-9048 or by email at KLaBore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com.