Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits

On the first weekend of June 2013, there were five separate fatal motor vehicle accidents on Minnesota roads, including a motorcyclist who rear-ended a truck on Highway 169; a pickup truck that collided with a tractor-trailer on Highway 76 in Houston County; a car that lost control on Highway 14 in Waseca County; an SUV that crossed the center line and hit a truck in central Minnesota; and a car that pulled out in traffic, causing a two-car crash in Maple Lake on Highway 55.

When a person dies as a result of an accident caused by another party, whether from an auto accident, a dangerous product, a slip and fall, or medical malpractice, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought on behalf of that person's family.

Call 612-254-6409 if you lost a family member in an accident.

Can It Already Be Too Late to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Before the Death?

A wrongful death action is subject to a statute of limitations, which is the time by which the lawsuit must be started otherwise, it may not be brought. In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is generally three years from the death, but no later than six years after the act or omission that caused the death. In a death caused by medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of death, but no later than four years after the date on which the cause of action first accrued.

The law presents a problem when the death occurs many years after the negligent act, as is often the case with toxic tort and other products liability cases. In February, the Minnesota Court of Appeals in Lamere vs. St. Jude Medical, Inc., decided the plaintiff's statute of limitations began to run on his wrongful death case when the allegedly defective medical mechanical heart-valve device was first manufactured or implanted in him, and not years later when he first discovered the defect. This decision meant the statute of limitations expired before he died or could have discovered that the device was defective.

Therefore, in a situation where a person has a potentially deadly injury, starting an action immediately can be crucial. After the victim's death, the existing personal injury action can be converted to a wrongful death action, and be deemed to have been timely commenced within the statute of limitations.

Speak With Our Compassionate Attorneys About Your Case

While nothing could ever truly compensate someone who lost a close family member in an accident, the qualified and compassionate Minnesota wrongful death attorneys at Bowden Cyr, PLLC, have the experience to help families during this most difficult of times. Call our office at 612-254-6409 to schedule a free consultation, or contact us online.