A Guide to Civil Claims Involving Accidental Death & Serious Injuries 2019

personal injury claims

Accidental death, also called wrongful death, is a legitimate claim when a person or entity causes someone’s death. Even though the person is no longer alive, Minnesota law allows close relatives to bring a claim against the person or entity that is liable. The attorneys at Patterson Dahlberg have tried hundreds of wrongful death cases and have supported families who are experiencing the pain that comes with this type of serious accident.

The steps included in making civil claims for compensation to the decedent’s family include:

Procedural Steps

1. The trustee is the individual who can bring the claim against the defendant (the person or entity who is responsible). Once the trustee is appointed, the complaint may commence. The trustee is one of the following persons:

  • Next of kin
  • Spouse
  • First-line blood relatives (grandparents, parents, siblings, children)

2. When the court settles the claim, it distributes the money among the next of kin. In most cases, the distribution occurs after the family members agree on the distribution plan. If the family cannot agree, the court will hold a hearing and decide on how the distribution will take place.

3. According to Minnesota law, families and injured claimants can recover economic losses such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Past wage losses (benefits beyond no-fault, up to the time of the trial)
  • Loss of earning capability over the decedent’s lifetime
  • Future loss of earning capacity (the injured party’s inability to succeed in specific types of work that could reduce the earning ability of the injured person)
  • Loss of consortium (comfort, companionship, counsel, guidance, aid, protection, advice, assistance) Minnesota does not allow for damages included due to grief or sorrow.
  • Past sickness and suffering (occurring up to the time of trial)
  • Future shock and suffering (which means loss of enjoyment of life over the expected lifetime of the plaintiff)
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Medical expenses resulting from the accident
  • Future medical expense (medical care that may occur at any time in the future)
  • Past medical expenditures (usually the total medical cost that is more than the no-fault medical benefits)
  • Medical payments resulting from an illness resulting in death

Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions

How Does the Family Pay for the Funeral?

Because no-fault benefits cover only $2,000 in funeral and burial expenses, the recovery proceeds are necessary for these considerations. Often, the funeral home will put the family’s account on “hold” until the case completes. No interest or penalty will occur, and a letter from the family’s attorney is usually all that is necessary.

How Does the Family Determine Who is to be the Trustee?

If the choice seems obvious to the entire family, once the family agrees, that person is the trustee. If the family is conflicted,  the judge will make a choice, or co-trustees may be appointed.

What are the Standard Benefits from Auto Insurance?

The decedent’s auto insurance or the policy of the vehicle in which the decedent was riding will provide:

  • Medical expense costs up to $20,000
  • Wage loss up to $500 a week
  • Replacement services
  • Primary homemaker benefits

How Much Will a Lawsuit Cost?

Most attorneys handle accident cases by use of a “contingency fee.” The attorneys receive a portion of what the client recovers. In Minnesota, the average fee usually is one-third. The client reimburses any out-of-pocket costs to attorneys once the case settles.

How to Overcome “Roadblocks” During Litigation

Wrongful death cases are among the most upsetting and complicated types of legal action that can be faced by families and attorneys alike. Patterson Dahlberg has an extensive background in such cases and would like to share with you the experience we have garnered over our years of practice.

Timely Investigation

One of the keys to success when it comes to wrongful death or severe injury cases is to find an accident reconstructionist to perform “forensic mapping” at the site of the crash. These investigators can contact law enforcement and ask to see any witness statements before insurance investigators become involved.

Naturally, insurance representatives want to discover ways to defend the claims and lessen the amount they pay in reparations.

Law enforcement officers will measure and mark the scene, but these markings and any other physical evidence will be present only a few days. Our team can bring in experts who will preserve and categorize all the information needed from the accident scene.

Damages Investigation

Attorneys may retain medical experts, economists, and vocational experts to obtain information that will be needed in planning and strategizing for the success of your claim.

Hiring the Right Attorney

It is always crucial to find the legal help you need. We want to share a few suggestions you should consider as you walk through this crisis:

Find a law firm that specializes in the type of case you are facing. Patterson Dahlberg focuses only on plaintiffs’ injuries. Yes, lawyers have specialties, and Patterson Dahlberg is outstanding in this field based on the number of cases they have taken on. The team is determined to get their clients the justice they deserve. Finding a law firm that knows the field of personal injury is a benefit to you and will take many of the burdens off you and your family.

Patterson Dahlberg Cases

  • In a case in Rochester, Minnesota, a vehicle that was crossing Highway 52, failed to yield and caused an accident. The left wrist of the defendant was injured and resulted in multiple surgeries. Patterson Dahlberg settled the case for $700,000 during the trial continuance,
  • A delivery van, in Glencoe, Minnesota, failed to yield and struck a motorcyclist. The cyclist suffered multiple injuries, including a pelvic fracture. The defendant settled for $1.5 million two weeks before the trial was to begin.
  • In a vehicle rollover in Fairbault, Minnesota, a passenger’s injuries caused quadriplegia. The settlement reached the policy limit of $1 million.

While past results don’t guarantee future outcomes, what these verdicts show is that Patterson Dahlberg will fight for the necessary compensation.

We have recovered over $120,000,000 for our injury clients.

Patterson Dahlberg Injury Attorneys

Our firm is ready to assist you in any Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, or Class Action cases you may be facing. Contact us today and let’s get started on getting you the compensation you deserve.