Duluth Wrongful Death Attorneys
A tragic, preventable loss of life can happen anywhere in the Twin Ports—a car accident on I-35, a fall from a ladder at a Chester Park home, a mishap on a dock at Rice’s Point, a senseless crime in West Duluth. No matter where it occurs, however, a senseless death causes a devastating impact on affected families, neighborhoods, and workplaces, and communities.
If someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions cut short your loved one’s life, you may pursue justice and compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit in Duluth. Money cannot make up for the loss you have suffered. It may, however, provide you with essential financial support during this stressful ordeal.
The Duluth wrongful death lawyers at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers represents grieving families in Duluth wrongful death actions. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn about how we can help you and your family after a tragic loss.
Table of Contents
- Duluth Wrongful Death Attorneys
- About Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers in Duluth
- What Wrongful Death Means in Duluth, Minnesota
- Eligibility to Pursue a Duluth Wrongful Death Lawsuit
- Damages Available in a Duluth Wrongful Death Case
- The Statute of Limitations for a Duluth Wrongful Death Claim
- Proving a Duluth Wrongful Death Case
- Frequently Asked Questions that Arise in a Duluth Wrongful Death Claim
- Skilled, Compassionate Duluth Wrongful Death Lawyers
About Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers in Duluth
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, our team puts families and communities first. Ours is a client-focused law firm committed to providing personalized, caring, intelligent legal services to our clients.
Since our founding, we have compiled a strong record of results in challenging, emotionally charged personal injury matters.
We can never guarantee results, but our clients can take comfort in knowing that they have put their cases in the hands of skilled, diligent personal injury attorneys who have what it takes to see justice done on their behalf.
What Wrongful Death Means in Duluth, Minnesota
Minnesota law defines wrongful death as a death caused by the wrongful acts or omissions of any individual or entity under circumstances where the person could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had they lived.
A wrongful death action is a lawsuit seeking compensation for a wrongful death. It is commonly paired with a survival action, which seeks damages the deceased individual would have had the right to claim had he or she lived.
As is the case with any personal injury, a wide range of accidents and incidents can result in a tragic wrongful death in Duluth.
Some common situations that may lead to a preventable loss of life include:
- Motor vehicle collisions involving cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles
- Accidents in which motor vehicles strike pedestrians or bicyclists
- Falls and other accidents due to unsafe property conditions
- Aviation and boating mishaps
- Construction site accidents and other dangerous situations at workplaces
- Violent crimes
- Dangerous incidents involving defective consumer or industrial products
This is just a sampling of the types of circumstances that can lead to a wrongful death. No matter how a death happens, the team at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers can help surviving spouses and family members obtain compensation for their tragic loss.
Eligibility to Pursue a Duluth Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Many states allow a deceased individual’s surviving spouse or family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Minnesota, things are done a bit differently. Minnesota law requires the deceased person’s surviving spouse or next of kin to petition the court to appoint a trustee who will file the wrongful death lawsuit and oversee the distribution of any damages awarded in the case.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we assist family members of deceased accident victims in naming a trustee who will pursue a wrongful death action for their benefit.
Damages Available in a Duluth Wrongful Death Case
In a Duluth wrongful death lawsuit, any damages awarded are paid to the deceased’s surviving spouse and the next of kin in proportion to each person’s loss. Minnesota law permits the recovery of two types of damages in wrongful death cases.
First, it allows for pecuniary damages resulting from the wrongful death, which Minnesota courts have construed to include:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Expenses for the treatment, care, and hospitalization required to treat the deceased individual’s final injury or illness
- Loss of the decedent’s protection, care, assistance, and services
- Loss of the decedent’s society, advice, comfort, guidance, and companionship
- Loss of the decedent’s income, benefits, and wages they would have provided to their family
Second, in appropriate cases, it allows for awards of punitive damages, which seek to punish actions resulting in death that demonstrate a “deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others.”
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we work closely with grieving families to take stock of the full scope of their tragic loss. When we take legal action on our clients’ behalf, we seek the maximum damages that Minnesota law allows.
The Statute of Limitations for a Duluth Wrongful Death Claim
The statute of limitations is a law that dictates the maximum amount of time you have to take legal action against another party. Failure to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations deadline can result in the loss of your right to compensation or other remedies.
In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for filing most wrongful death claims is three years from the date of the decedent’s death but no later than six years after the event that caused the underlying harm. If a wrongful claim is not filed within that time, the court will likely refuse to hear it.
However, it is also important to note that there are exceptions to this rule that can increase or decrease the amount of time you have to pursue a wrongful death claim in Duluth. For instance, there is no deadline if the death was caused by an intentional act constituting murder. Likewise, you must file a wrongful death claim against most health care providers within three years of the death, and no more than four years from the date of any act of medical malpractice that led to the death. Other Minnesota rules may further modify these time limits.
Due to these complexities and the high cost of missing a deadline, the team at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers encourages families who have suffered a tragic loss to speak with a member of our team as soon as possible. We can usually advise you of any time limits that may apply to your case.
Proving a Duluth Wrongful Death Case
To establish a right to compensation for a wrongful death on behalf of a client, the team at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers typically must gather evidence and make arguments to show:
- There was a death. This may seem obvious, but we still must prove it, and may do so using medical records, a death certificate, or other documentation or testimony that establishes a loss of life.
- The wrongful actions of someone other than the deceased individual contributed to the cause of death. Those actions may consist of unreasonably dangerous, albeit mistaken, decisions or actions, which lawyers often refer to as negligence. Or, they may consist of intentional actions, such as when someone dies as the victim of a violent crime.
- The death resulted in damages. This, too, may seem obvious, considering the impact a tragic death takes on a Duluth family and community. However, lawyers must nevertheless demonstrate through evidence the full range of harm caused by the death, from financial losses to the void left in the lives of the surviving spouse and family members.
Our attorneys approach the task of proving a wrongful death case with the empathy and dignity that the subject matter deserves. We focus on the legal, financial, and personal needs of surviving spouses and family members, to ensure that they do not suffer additional trauma from the process of seeking justice and compensation for their loss.
Frequently Asked Questions that Arise in a Duluth Wrongful Death Claim
1. In Duluth, Who Is Considered the Next of Kin?
For purposes of the wrongful death claim, the next of kin can include parents, siblings, grandparents, and adopted or natural children. Additionally, Minnesota courts may even allow cousins, nieces, and nephews, uncles and aunts, or those individuals farther into the family tree to be considered next of kin. However, to verify if you qualify as a next of kin, it is best to speak with an experienced Duluth wrongful death lawyer who can review the case and determine if you meet the requirements under Minnesota’s laws.
2. If My Loved One Passed Away in a Duluth Accident, How Are Wrongful Death Damages Determined?
In a Duluth wrongful death lawsuit, family members can pursue compensation for their loved one’s lost income, funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, and lost companionship.
Numerous factors can affect the amount of compensation that fits into those categories, including:
- The decedent’s life expectancy at the time of death
- The decedent’s health condition at the time of death
- A decedent’s past financial contributions to a surviving spouse or family member
- The decedent’s habits, occupation, and age
- The decedent’s past earnings and potential future earnings
- The type of accident the decedent was involved in and the severity of the accident
Although no attorney can predict exactly how much money you might receive from a wrongful death claim, the most reliable way to ensure that you seek maximum compensation is to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney, like a member of the team at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers.
3. Who Determines How Wrongful Death Damages Are Divided Amongst the Family Members?
Minnesota law provides that the recovery in a wrongful death action “shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin, proportionate to the pecuniary loss severely suffered by the death. The court determines the proportionate pecuniary loss of the persons entitled to the recovery and orders distribution accordingly.”
4. Who Can Be Named A Trustee in a Duluth Wrongful Death Claim?
Even though Minnesota law strictly requires the appointment of a trustee to pursue a wrongful death claim, a court may appoint virtually any competent adult to the position. In many cases, the trustee is often one of the decedent’s family members, but that does not always have to be the case.
In cases of disagreement or uncertainty over who should serve as trustee, the parties can ask the court to appoint a trustee, and the court will typically oblige.
5. Why Should I Call an Experienced Duluth Wrongful Death Attorney?
No amount of money can fully erase the hurt and damage that losing your loved one has caused. Still, obtaining financial recovery for your losses can help you and your family start rebuilding your life after a tragedy.
Obtaining that compensation requires the skill and experience of an attorney who knows Minnesota wrongful death laws, and who understands how to evaluate a claim thoroughly to seek maximum pecuniary damages.
The experienced Duluth wrongful death attorneys at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers can, for example:
- Investigate the circumstances of a wrongful death to determine how it happened and which parties may owe compensation for it.
- Evaluate the scope of the pecuniary loss a surviving spouse or family has suffered, while treating those individuals with dignity and compassion.
- Answer questions and plan a legal strategy tailored to the family’s needs.
- Prepare and file paperwork to commence a wrongful death action within the statute of limitations period.
- Negotiate with insurance companies and defense lawyers to obtain a favorable financial settlement if possible.
- Advocate on behalf of the surviving spouse and family in a Duluth courtroom, which may include taking the wrongful death case to trial if that’s what’s needed to secure appropriate compensation.
Skilled, Compassionate Duluth Wrongful Death Lawyers
If your loved one died because of someone else’s wrongful actions in Duluth, you and your family may have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, if you act now. For a free case consultation with a compassionate, knowledgeable legal professional, contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers online or call our office at (218) 217-0698.
306 West Superior Street, Suite 606
Duluth, MN 55802