Civil Claims for Accidental Death in Minnesota 2019


Accidental Death, known as Wrongful Death by law, is a death that occurs because of someone else’s negligence. In Minnesota, the “next of kin” (a person’s closest living relative or relatives) can make civil claims for compensation for their relative’s death due to someone else’s recklessness. Next of kin can be:

  • A spouse
  • A first-line blood relative
  • Grandparent
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Children

Why Patterson Dahlberg?

  1. Patterson Dahlberg Injury Lawyers’ team of attorneys in Rochester, Minnesota, have years of experience and accrued knowledge concerning Wrongful Death cases.
  2. The firm has handled an incredible number of personal injury cases over the years.
  3. Clients’ claims are familiar to the firm and protecting their clients’ families is a top priority.
  4. Patterson Dahlberg will fight aggressively for your rights.
  5. The attorneys also understand that many clients may be in situations that cause them tremendous grief and stress.
  6. The sooner you connect with Patterson Dahlberg Attorneys, the more likely you will receive the benefits you deserve.

What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Minnesota?

Minnesota statutes section 573.02 states that wrongful death can be intentional or an act of negligence. This definition includes the failure to act by another person. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death include:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

If the driver of the other vehicle has been drinking, distracted, or otherwise incapable of driving safely, the driver can be found liable for wrongful death.

Medical Malpractice

A physician might misdiagnose a patient’s medical problem or make a tragic error during surgery or a patient’s treatment.

Workplace Accidents

If an employee dies due to the negligence of his or her company’s compliance, the employer could face a suit for wrongful death.

Pedestrian Accidents

If a vehicle driver causes the death of a pedestrian because of reckless driving, this can result in wrongful death. If the town or city in which the accident occurs has not enforced safe walkways or compliant walk signals, accidents could happen and lead to a wrongful death suit.

Defective Products

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, product-related deaths and injuries occur most often due to the following:

  • Amusement rides
  • ATVs, ROVs
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Chemicals
  • Electrical systems
  • Fire
  • Fireworks
  • Furniture and decor
  • Home appliances
  • Home maintenance and construction
  • Nursery products
  • Children’s products
  • Sports-related deaths
  • Toys
  • Playgrounds, and more

The Elements of Wrongful Death

These elements must exist and be proven to provide surviving  relatives with a successful claim:

Negligence – Someone must have been careless, reckless, or negligent in a way that caused this death.

Breach of Duty – Surviving relatives, must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the deceased and breached that responsibility.

Causation – Surviving family members, must show that the specified breach of duty caused the wrongful death.

Damages – The surviving relatives must prove they suffered loss because of the wrongful death. Injuries (or “damages,” in legal terms), mean such matters as:

  • Funeral costs
  • Medical bills
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium (companionship)
  • Loss of income, among others


Appointment of Trustee

A trustee, in most cases a spouse, is the person chosen to attend hearings, mediations, communicate with lawyers, and participate in responses to discovery (obtaining evidence from the other party or parties through interrogations, documents, requests for admissions, and depositions).


If the next of kin agree to divide the recovery among the surviving relatives, they must file a petition with the court, and the judge will follow this plan. If the family cannot agree, a hearing takes place, and a judge makes the determination. The recovery claim can be allowed for the losses the family suffered as a result of the decedent’s untimely death.

Time Limits

According to 2018 Minnesota Statute 573.03, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is three years after the date of death. Exceptions include that malpractice cases must take place within four years from the date the cause of action occurred.

A counterclaim may be pleaded as a defense to any action for services brought by a health care provider after the limitations described in this section, notwithstanding it is barred by the provisions of this chapter, if the counterclaim belonged to the party pleading it at the time it became barred and was not barred at the time the claim sued on originated, but no judgment on the counterclaim except for costs can be rendered in favor of the party so pleading it. 541.076 (c)

If a Minnesota criminal court convicts a person for a murder that is a result of a wrongful death lawsuit, the suit can occur at any time following that conviction. In this type of case, there is no three-year deadline.

Patterson Dahlberg, Personal Injury Lawyers

Located in Rochester, Minnesota, our attorneys serve the Southeast Minnesota area. You may be wondering what makes our team of attorneys a cut above the rest.

  • We are proud of being awarded the prestigious Martindale Hubbell Law Firm AV Rating. This designation means that our group of lawyers has reached the highest level of professional excellence.
  • Patterson Dahlberg is also a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. The membership in this forum goes to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements.
  • We appreciate being among America’s Top 100 Attorneys and part of the Super Lawyers rating service of outstanding lawyers in the US.

These accolades are flattering, but Patterson Dahlberg is more interested in ensuring that your case is handled intelligently, promptly, and in a manner that delivers the justice you deserve.

Our practice specializes in personal injury cases. These types of cases are the only cases we on which we work. That means that our experience in handling personal injury cases is thorough, and we can bring that expertise to your situation, as well. Patterson Dahlberg, Personal Injury Lawyers, knows how to assist you when you need legal representation.

Come in for our free initial consultation Our team is available to you when you need us. Many of our clients say that we have calm, yet confident, interactions with them. That’s how we want things to be.

Contact us today if you and your family are involved in a personal injury issue. We know how to help.