573.02 ACTION FOR DEATH BY WRONGFUL ACT; SURVIVAL OF ACTIONS.
Wrongful Death Minn. Stat. 573.02 sets forth the process for trustee appointment, statute of limitations for various situations and what damages are recoverable.
Wrongful Death Claims for Pain and Suffering and Pecuniary Loss
Here is the process set forth in section 573.02, subd. 2:
A TRUSTEE MUST BE APPOINTED: Death Action: When death is caused by the wrongful act or omission of any person or corporation, the trustee appointed as provided in subdivision 3 may maintain an action therefor if the decedent might have maintained an action, had the decedent lived, for an injury caused by the wrongful act or omission.
WRONGFUL DEATH STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: An action to recover damages for a death caused by the alleged professional negligence of a physician, surgeon, dentist, hospital or sanitarium, or an employee of a physician, surgeon, dentist, hospital or sanitarium shall be commenced within three years of the date of death, but in no event shall be commenced beyond the time set forth in section 541.076. An action to recover damages for a death caused by an intentional act constituting murder may be commenced at any time after the death of the decedent.
Any other action under this section may be commenced within three years after the date of death provided that the action must be commenced within six years after the act or omission.
There is a new provision that deals with the Peacetime Emergency Injury Action statute of limitations in Minn. Stat. 573.021 effective May 20, 2023, which states that there is a one-year statute for health care providers for claims brought under a peacetime emergency against a health care provider alleging malpractice, error, mistake, or failure to cure regarding treatment, transmission, or vaccination related to the infectious disease. The claim must be filed within one year of the death of the former patient or resident if neglect occurred during peacetime emergency.
Wrongful Death Action. Amount of Recovery
The recovery in the action is the amount the jury deems fair and just for all damages suffered by the decedent resulting from the injury prior to the decedent’s death. This is a new provision added in 2023, see New Minnesota Wrongful Death Law.
In addition, the recovery includes the amount the jury deems fair and just in reference to the pecuniary loss resulting from the death, and shall be for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin, proportionate to the pecuniary loss severally suffered by the death. The court then determines the proportionate pecuniary loss of the persons entitled to the recovery and orders distribution accordingly. Funeral expenses and any demand for the support of the decedent allowed by the court having jurisdiction of the action, are first deducted and paid. Punitive damages may be awarded as provided in section 549.20.
If an action for the injury was commenced by the decedent and not finally determined while living, it may be continued by the trustee for recovery of damages for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse and next of kin, proportionate to the pecuniary loss severally suffered by the death.
What is Pecuniary Loss?
In Minnesota the term “pecuniary loss“
Pecuniary Loss is an element of the wrongful death jury injuries (JIGs) and is not defined by statute, but through caselaw as the loss of “advice, counsel and loss of companionship.”
According to Minnesota Statutes Annotated: the statute does not define pecuniary loss. [The court has ruled in the past however], that pecuniary loss includes loss of “advice, counsel, and loss of companionship.” Jones v. Fisher, 309 N.W.2d 726, 730 (Minn.1981); see also Gravley v. Sea Gull Marine, Inc., 269 N.W.2d 896, 901 (Minn.1978) (noting that pecuniary loss includes “loss of advice, comfort, assistance, and protection”).
Contact a Top Rated Minnesota Wrongful Death Attorney
Attorney Kenneth LaBore has handled hundreds of wrongful death cases and has decades experience in knowing how to how negligent parties accountable and how to recover maximum damages under the law. For a free consultation call 612-743-9048 or by email at KLaBore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com.