The Divided Damages of Wrongful Death
On August 26, 2013 a woman died of sepsis after childbirth after a misdiagnosis of her condition by a nurse in Twin Cities Hospital in Minnesota. Her family was awarded $20 million for the malpractice. It was the largest amount awarded to a malpractice case in Minnesota.
Cases like this are exceptional, but her costs of damages happen to people with wrongful death and harm events everyday. Minnesotans who suffer from injuries related to car accidents, truck accidents, bicycle accidents, burns, and other traumatic events can all have incredibly difficult harm come into their life that hinders them from living it properly. An accident that leaves the parent of a child or children can leave them in bed and unable to work, or, in the worst case scenario, deceased. However, a loved one can file suit for you if such an event occurs. The question is then: how are the cost of the damages divided?
Wrongful death in Minnesota Code 573.02 is defined as death “caused by the wrongful act or omission of any person or corporation.”A broad definition is given as many times the death, causes of death, and other details are complex depending on a case by case basis. Wrongful deaths in Minnesota are caused often by a motor vehicle accident, but also can be caused by the alleged professional negligence of a doctor or other medical professional; of course, wrongful deaths can be caused by a wide array of other negligent acts.
Minnesota law is particular about the survivors who can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. If the decedent was married, a spouse may file, and if they had children, they can also file suit. If a decedent had no children, their parents may sue. The power to sue may become complex depending on the case.
The statute of limitations, or the amount of time a victim has before not being able to sue the perpetrator, in Minnesota is three years. This limitation is created in order to not enforce the law against the fuzzy details of a wrongful death that occurred decades before.
The court determines the persons entitled to the cost of the damages and also determines the proportional amount of loss. The court considers heavily on physical and mental damages of the wrongful death, and it depends on a case by case basis for the costs awarded. Funeral expenses, as well as demands for the support of a decedent are first to be deducted and paid. Punitive damages can be provided, depending on the necessity of the case.
Dividing the Costs
Minnesota law then determines which individuals are acceptable to gain from the costs of wrongful death. In simple cases, the surviving spouse or the descendants receive compensation. However, the recipients of the benefits can become another court disagree if the next of kin cannot conclude to an agreement.
If you or a loved one requires legal assistance with a wrongful death or injury case, contact Gunther Law Office for professional counsel. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case and ensure you recover the compensation to which you are entitled.