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Wrongful Death Lawyer

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Accidents are the fourth leading cause of death in Minnesota, according to the state Department of Health. The most common fatal accidents are falls, accidental poisonings, and motor vehicle accidents.

These tragic deaths are often precipitated by the negligence of others. Knowing a loved one’s death could have been prevented adds to the grief and suffering of family members left behind.

The Minneapolis wrongful death lawyers at Milavetz Law have seen firsthand the toll wrongful death can take on families. We help families get justice for the harm brought on by that death.

While we understand that financial compensation cannot make up for the loss of a loved one, it can alleviate the resulting financial distress and provide financial security.

If you have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, contact our wrongful death lawyers today so we can help you hold them accountable.

What is negligence?

Negligence occurs when the following elements can be proven:

  1. Duty. The defendant owed your loved one a duty of care.
  2. Breach of duty. The defendant breached that duty.
  3. Cause in fact. The death would not have occurred except for the breach of duty.
  4. Proximate cause. The breach of duty, and not something else, is the cause of death.
  5. Damages. The family of the victim has suffered loss because of the death.

How does Minnesota define wrongful death?

The Minnesota wrongful death statute § 573.02 defines wrongful death as a “wrongful act or omission of any person or corporation” that causes a death. Wrongful death can occur accidentally due to careless conduct, but it can also stem from intentional misconduct.

What types of wrongful death cases does Milavetz Injury Law, P.A. handle?

The Milavetz personal injury attorneys have over 60 years of experience in wrongful death law and have provided legal representation in a wide range of cases.

Motor Vehicle Accident

Most car accidents are caused by human error. Statewide, the most frequent contributing factors are failure to yield and speeding. In single-vehicle accidents, carelessness and erratic driving are the most common causes. Drunk driving is also a common contributing factor that led to 131 fatalities in Minnesota in 2020.

Truck Accidents

Truck drivers were involved in 58 Minnesota highway fatalities in 2020. A national study found that the most significant factors involving at-fault truckers were as follows:

  • Brake problems
  • Driving too fast for the conditions
  • Unfamiliarity with the roadway

Truck drivers owe other drivers an extra duty of care due to their professional training and increased vehicle size. In Minnesota, when a trucking accident occurs, generally the trucking companies are liable.

Motorcycle Crashes

In 2020, 64 motorcyclists were killed on Minnesota roadways. The most common cause of motorcycle collisions with other vehicles was the failure of the automobile driver to yield, which caused 38.1% of motorcycle crashes.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Crashes

Bicycle and pedestrian crashes are most often caused by drivers failing to yield. In 2020, a total of 471 bicycle crashes resulted in 10 fatalities, and 753 crashes involving pedestrians caused 45 deaths. 

Medical Malpractice 

Nationwide, medical errors are the third leading cause of death, killing an estimated 251,000 people annually. This is more than the number of deaths from automobile accidents. Minnesota patients reported 384 adverse events from October 2017 to October 2018, including 11 deaths from the following medical errors:

  • Falls
  • Birth injuries
  • Medication errors
  • Suicide

Our attorneys have successfully handled medical malpractice cases involving these and other common medical errors including diagnostic errors, surgical errors, hospital negligence, and HMO claim denials.

Workplace Injuries

Minnesota workers suffered 67 fatalities in 2020. Family members of workers killed in the workplace may be entitled to death benefits through workers’ compensation. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Milavetz Injury Law can ensure you receive the full amount you are due.

Premises Liability 

Slips, trips, and falls are the second leading cause of workplace injuries and a leading cause of injuries in the elderly. Every year, one out of four persons 65 or older falls. This number is rising. If the current trend continues, by 2030, seven fall deaths will occur every hour. Falls often occur when property owners fail to take preventive measures. 

Defective Products

Consumers rightfully expect products they purchase to function as expected and meet safety and quality standards. Defective products create deadly hazards. Some of the most common defective product claims we have handled include the following products:

Product defects that expose manufacturers to liability include the following:

  • Dangerous design
  • Defects overlooked during production
  • Failure to provide adequate instructions and warnings

Drugs and Medical Devices

Drugs and medical devices are a special category of product liability because they impact thousands of victims before their dangers are known. Milavetz Injury Law has extensive experience handling important cases involving harmful drugs and medical devices.

Dog Bites

According to, 46 people in the U.S. were killed by dog bites in 2020, 33% of which were children 9 years and younger. This number continues to rise prompting many to take legal action.

How long do I have to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in Minneapolis?

The Minnesota personal injury statute of limitations is three years in most cases, including cases involving wrongful death. However, this can vary based on the circumstances surrounding the death.

For example, in medical malpractice cases, a wrongful death case must be filed within three years of the death, but the statute of limitations holds this to four years from the date of the wrongful act or omission.

In wrongful death cases where the conduct was intentional, including acts that amount to murder, there is no time limit to file.

The statute of limitations may also vary if the death did not immediately occur as a result of the injurious conduct. In these cases, the statute of limitations still allows plaintiffs to take up to three years to file a claim, but it is barred after six years have passed since the date the conduct occurred.

The most accurate method to determine how the statute of limitations applies to your case is to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney promptly after the death to ensure the statute of limitations is correctly applied to your case. This will guarantee that your case is filed timely.

Who can file a wrongful death claim in Minneapolis?

A wrongful death action in Minnesota must be filed for the benefit of the next of kin by a trustee who has been appointed by the court. The trustee will be appointed upon written petition by the next of kin.

Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

The case value in a wrongful death case depends on specific the facts of your case, including:

  • The short-term and long-term financial impact of the death on individual family members
  • The type of accident that led to the death
  • Whether the conduct was intentional
  • The available insurance
  • The suffering experienced by the deceased

Minnesota’s wrongful death law only allows families to collect pecuniary damages, which are monetary damages. However, the Minnesota courts have recognized that this restrictive provision is unreasonable because it does not fully compensate families for their loss.

As a result, the courts have broadened the definition of pecuniary damages for wrongful death law to include certain intangible losses. As a result, Minnesota families may pursue the following economic and noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical treatment of the deceased
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of advice
  • Loss of comfort
  • Loss of assistance
  • Loss of protection

In cases involving intentional misconduct or gross negligence, families can also pursue punitive damages. Punitive damages are considered non-compensatory damages because their purpose is not to compensate the victim but to punish the at-fault party. Punitive damages can be substantial.

Determining Pecuniary Loss

Calculating a family’s pecuniary loss stemming from a death requires consideration of the entirety of the decedent’s contributions to the family. If the decedent was a wage earner, the projected lifetime earnings will be calculated into the settlement value, including likely raises, promotions, and adjustments for inflation.

If the decedent owned a business, invested in stocks, or contributed other forms of income to the family, the value of future investments and opportunities must be considered and included.

While intangible losses such as loss of companionship may not have a measurable financial value, a monetary value can be reached using various methods.

The multiplier method assigns a numerical value based on the degree of the loss and multiplies this number by the total economic damages.

Another common method is the per diem method, in which a number is assigned for each day of suffering, and this is multiplied by the number of days the suffering is expected to continue, which may be a life span.

The method used in your case may or may not be one of these means. If your case goes to court, a jury will award punitive damages based on what it considers fair and just. In a wrongful death settlement, the multipliers and methods used are negotiated by the attorneys representing the parties.

What are survival actions in a wrongful death claim?

While a wrongful death action focuses on the losses experienced by the family left behind, a survival action is a claim for losses suffered by the deceased. These are damages that would have been recoverable by the deceased had they survived.

In a Minnesota wrongful death action, families have the right to pursue damages for the following in a survival claim:

  • The pain and suffering of the deceased in relation to the wrongful death
  • Damages in a lawsuit that was commenced by the deceased prior to death
  • Damages for harm suffered by the deceased for which the deceased was eligible to file a claim, even if the deceased had not yet done so

How do I prove wrongful death in Minneapolis?

To prevail in a wrongful death case, you must show the court that the following basic elements are true:

  • A person has passed away.
  • The person passed away as a result of another party’s negligence or deliberate act.
  • Your family has suffered pecuniary losses due to the death.
  • You are the surviving spouse, child, or next of kin with legal standing to pursue a wrongful death claim, and an appointee has been appointed to file the claim.

To prove these elements, an experienced wrongful death lawyer will need to:

  • Gather medical records, accident reports, and any other available documentation
  • Perform a detailed forensic investigation
  • Interview witnesses
  • Perform testing
  • Retain expert witnesses in the medical and financial fields

Contact a Minneapolis Wrongful Death Lawyer at Milavetz Injury Law P.A.

Our legal team believes regular people should have access to the same caliber of legal advice and representation as large corporations and insurance companies. We are skilled negotiators and litigators who have been standing up to large corporations on behalf of our clients since our founding in 1963.

Our law firm has built a reputation for honesty and hard work while generously giving back to our Twin Cities communities. Our attorneys donate many volunteer hours and serve on the boards of worthy nonprofits, including Legal

Aid, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, and the Merriam Park Community Council.

Our dedication to our clients is reflected in the significant results we have achieved for them:

  • $400,000 for an 80-year-old woman with fractured ribs
  • $90,000 for a pedestrian struck in a crosswalk
  • $2.5 million lump sum plus a $15.5 million structured payout to the youngest heir in a wrongful death case involving a trucking accident

If your family has wrongfully lost a loved one, our wrongful death attorneys can offer you a free case evaluation at any of our convenient office locations in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Call today at (612) 339-0140 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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