Wrongful Death Attorney St. Paul
Compassionate Legal Support and Guidance
The unexpected death of a family member in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence is devastating and life-changing. The emotional pain and the monetary impact the loss has can be very damaging to the family. In these situations, you have the right to hold the at-fault person financially liable. While the ability to recover compensation will not bring your loved one back, it will relieve the financial damage resulting from the loss.
Wrongful death lawsuits exist because the deceased person’s life and livelihood were important, and the person who caused their death should not be exempt from the consequences. Under Minnesota law, you can recover loss of support, loss of companionship, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other damages. The amount of money paid depends on the extent of the damage and the harmful act or negligence.
Damages in a wrongful death suit may be determined using several different pieces of information, such as:
- The age of the decedent
- Their earning capacity
- Their life expectancy, health, and intelligence
- The amount their loved ones relied on them
- The parental guidance they offered
At Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, PLLC, we will aggressively represent your interests and seek to recover just compensation. We’ll focus on the details of your case, allowing you to properly grieve and make provisions for the future. We will use our experience and our understanding of the way insurance companies work to help you.
Schedule a consultation by calling our St. Paul wrongful death attorney at (651) 413-9004 today.
Effectively Handling Wrongful Death Cases in MN
Wrongful death claims can be the result of many types of accidents.
In Minnesota, wrongful death claims commonly arise from:
- Car, motorcycle, truck, public transportation, boat, and ATV accidents
- Medical errors
- Medication errors
- Construction accidents
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals
- Defective products
Sometimes wrongful death suits come after a criminal case. A wrongful death suit will have similar evidence, but with a lower standard of proof. Even if a defendant is found not guilty of a crime, you can still win a wrongful death case. With a lower standard of proof, that same person could be found liable for wrongful death.
By having an experienced St. Paul wrongful death attorney by your side, you have an advocate looking out for your future. This is important because your loved one may have made a significant contribution to your household income. It can be difficult to move forward while struggling to pay the accident-related expenses and dealing with other monetary losses. That is why Minnesota law allows you to seek a settlement from the negligent person or their insurance company.
At Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, PLLC, we first seek out a settlement by negotiating a meaningful amount that will allow you to move forward. If the insurance company doesn’t agree on just compensation, we can take the matter to trial, letting a jury decide. Jury trials are lengthy, but the awards tend to be larger. The course of action taken in your case is entirely up to you, and we will diligently work for you and will seek a satisfactory result.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Minnesota?
If a loved one lost their life because of the reckless actions or negligence of another party, it could be hard to let that go. This is especially so if you were dependent on the deceased person for emotional support and/or income.
Who can file a wrongful death suit is determined by blood and the nuclear family model in a hierarchy of closest and then next-closest relatives. These are not all the people who can file a wrongful death suit all the time. As each layer of close relations is removed, a layer further out from the nuclear model gets a chance to file.
Although many people may be affected by the death, only direct family members can file a wrongful death suit. This includes:
- Spouse: If the decedent has a currently living spouse, they will always be at the top of the list of people who can file a wrongful death suit.
- Children: Natural and adopted children are also automatically authorized to file a wrongful death suit any time before the statute of limitations has passed.
- Parents: If the decedent didn’t have any children, their wrongful death ‘slots’ can be filled by their own parents. In this situation, only the parents of the decedent are allowed to file a wrongful death case in Minnesota.
- Sibling: After the parents come brothers and sisters. This means that only if the decedent had no children and no parents can a sibling file a wrongful death case or be the active recipients of any settlement amount.
- Parents of a Young Child: Finally, if a minor child is the one who died, their parents are allowed to file a wrongful death charge as their closest possible relatives.
The Spouse Exception
You may have noticed that spouses were not mentioned at all after children were removed and parents were added to the formula.
This is because a spouse is assumed to be a constant possibility while blood relatives are acknowledged in the hierarchy.
This essentially tries to ensure that any decedent has at least two people looking out for them and ready to file a wrongful death suit should the need arise.
A spouse is always allowed to file for wrongful death but they do not preclude the layers of relatives.
This means that a spouse can always file and, if there are no children, parents can file.
If there is a spouse but no parents, both the spouse and siblings of the decedent can file and so on.
What About Friends?
This is a question that is asked with surprising frequency in situations where wrongful death has significantly impacted the life of a non-relative who cares deeply for the decedent, especially if the decedent has no close relatives or none who will file the suit.
Close friends, unmarried romantic partners, and roommates often desire to bring a wrongful death suit on behalf of someone they cared deeply for.
This question also comes up if the person who caused the death gets away in criminal court. At this point, even a close coworker may want to see wrong admitted in the courts, even a civil one.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of options for anyone who is not a spouse or on the currently active relative tier of wrongful death filing. The reason for this is how wrongful death cases are arranged to pay compensation to a family deprived of a loved one and possibly a breadwinner.
If all you want to see is a responsibility on the record, you have very few options.
However, if you are eager to pursue the case no matter who gets paid in the end, you may be able to find a qualifying relative that you can legally represent.
Becoming or Hiring a Trustee
If the decedent’s next of kin gives written and court-approved permission to another person to take over the wrongful death case, this person becomes a trustee of the case and has permission to pursue the case independently without themselves being a direct relative.
In this situation, the trustee is often paid for their services and files a bond as security so they can dedicate their time and hire a lawyer for the case.
This arrangement allows for a number of possible situations including families too bereaved to handle a court case and deaths that happened far away from the family home.
It can also provide an opportunity for friends and non-qualifying family members to become a part of the wrongful death case by acting as invested local trustees.
Whether you are a grieving surviving relative or a close friend looking to see justice for an insensible tragedy, you are not alone.
It’s an unfortunate truth that wrongful death cases happen all the time due to negligence, recklessness, or omission.
When this happens, you can get the justice and compensation for your tragedy that you and your decedent loved one deserves with the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Filing Within the Time Limit in MN
Except for extraordinary circumstances, usually involving more serious criminal cases, there is a statute of limitations on wrongful death suits. This is primarily in place to reduce the number of frivolous after-the-fact suits in which a relative decides that they can get something by claiming wrongful death after most relevant evidence is gone. It also applies to families who are slow on investigation and paperwork. Thus, if you suspect wrongful death, you’ll want to file within the time limit of three years from the date of the death; otherwise, your case could be dismissed.
Types of Monetary Damages in Minnesota
The result of a successful wrongful death suit is always in the form of monetary damages paid to the surviving family members. These damages acknowledge the many ways in which the deceased was important and valuable to their family and is meant to compensate for that as best as money can in a highly emotional matter.
These damages compensate for:
- Final Care and Treatment Expenses
Often, the death is caused by complications after the wrongful incident, resulting up medical bills for tests and attempts to save the person before they passed on. This can add an incredible financial burden to a family on top of the trauma of loss.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses
Funerals can be expensive. Even casket prices tend to skyrocket into many thousands of dollars. Wrongful death damages almost always cover funeral and burial expenses.
- Loss of Wages and Benefits
If your loved one worked and extended their work health care and other benefits to the family, the loss of both wages and benefits are calculated when deciding on the amount of damages to be paid
- Loss of Services, Protection and Care
The value of your loved one goes beyond the money they brought into the family. Services like household chores, watching the kids, protecting the home, and caring for young, old, and infirmed family members is also valued for damages.
- Sorrow and Mental Anguish
The pain of the surviving family and the time they need to heal could take them out of work and school, further harming household finances and thus qualifying for damages. This payment can be particularly high if the death was quite traumatizing or the negligence of the other party was particularly disrespectful.
- Loss of Society, Companionship, Care, and Guidance
The final category of damages takes into account the negative impact the death has on the social and emotional health of the remaining family. Spouses are left without companionship and children without a parent to care for and guide them as they grow up.
Contact a St. Paul Wrongful Death Attorney
It is devastating when a loved one loses their life in an accident arising from someone else’s negligence. The unexpected loss comes with many lifelong impacts. If this is something that you are facing, and you want to hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence, you have the right to take legal action.
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Backed by over 50 years of combined legal experience and an intimate understanding of the court system, our team knows how to effectively guide clients through their cases.