Who Can Sue in Wrongful Death Cases?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2019 | Personal Injury |

When someone you love dies as a result of the actions of another person or entity, it can bring about a painful time for the survivors. After the mourning period, the survivors may be able to bring about a wrongful death lawsuit. While a loss of life is often impossible to put a monetary amount on, these lawsuits allow the survivors to seek compensation for expenses such as lost wages and funeral expenses. However, while the damages that the survivors can seek are often clear cut, who could actually file suit is often not. If you are not a spouse or parent to the deceased, you may think that you have no options, but you may be wrong.

In Minnesota, a wrongful death claim must be filed by a representative on behalf of survivors who have suffered damages from the recent death. Typically the party that files a wrongful death suit is the executor of the estate of the deceased, but not always, especially when an executor is not named. So who has the right to sue for wrongful death?

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?

Unlike other states that muddy up such affairs with many different inclusions, Minnesota keeps things very simple. Those who may sue for wrongful death include:

  • Parents
  • Spouses
  • Siblings
  • Children
  • Grandparents

Grandparents was a rather recent addition, a precedent set by another case, but other states often get lost by keeping who can sue less simple by including financial dependents that are not children or spouses; distant family members such as aunts or uncles; and putative spouses (those not technically married). By limiting who can sue in wrongful death cases, it allows Minnesota courts to simplify the process and not tie things up with arguments on who is able to file charges.

Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?

Who can be sued is wholly dependent on the situation. Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against a wide variety of people, companies, employees, and even government agencies. It depends on the unique situations of an accident and state laws. However, unlike who can sue in Minnesota, who you can sue in the state for fatal injuries is much more lenient.

A good example is a car crash that resulted in death. You can sue the other driver, the builder of the road way if it was faulty, a government agency that failed to provide proper warnings on the roadway, the manufacturer or distributor of a faulty car, or even the person who served the driver alcohol if it was a drunk driving incident. However, very few cases go after multiple sources when it comes to wrongful deaths,. Most families choose to take the simplest route which is usually the most effective. In the example, the simplest route would be the other driver in the car crash.

It used to be that Minnesota, like many other states, had sovereign immunity that prevented you from suing a government agency in the state. However, Minnesota, again like most states in the present day, has created exceptions to the rule in order to bypass said immunity of government officials. This has been a great boon to families where even if a wrongful death was caused by another, it was made possible by government action or inaction. In the previous example, this would be a car crash caused by icy roads that were either poorly labeled or even poorly maintained. In those cases, a government agency could be held responsible.

Has a loved one been in an accident that resulted in death? Do you believe that you have a right to file a wrongful death suit? Contact us today. The Meshbesher Law Firm is a Minneapolis-based practice that has dedicated our time to representing the rights of injured Minnesotans.

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