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Minnesota Wrongful Death Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

There are both criminal and civil laws in place to hold people responsible when their intentional or negligent acts lead to someone's death. Just as each state defines homicide in its criminal laws, they also define wrongful death in their civil laws. In Minnesota, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed "when death is caused by the wrongful act or omission of any person or corporation." For example, if a driver kills someone while driving drunk, the victim's family may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver.

Overview of Minnesota Wrongful Death Laws

In the following table, you can find a summary of wrongful death laws in Minnesota as well as links to applicable statutes. Please remember that while reading an overview of the law is helpful, it's important to also read the text of the statutes for more detailed information.

Statute(s)

Minnesota Statutes, Postjudgment Remedies; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Bonds (Ch. 580-583) Section 573.02 (Action for Death by Wrongful Act)

Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit

In most cases, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit is three years from the death and within six years after the act or omission that led to the death. However, different time limits apply in the following circumstances:

  • If the cause of death was murder, there is no time limit to file a lawsuit.
  • If the cause of death was professional negligence by a healthcare provider, it must be filed within three years of death and within four years of the negligent act.
Right of Action

The surviving spouse or next of kin can petition the court to appoint a trustee to file a wrongful death action.

Recovery of Damages

Damages for wrongful death are awarded based on the monetary loss that resulted from the death of the decedent. The court will determine the proportionate monetary loss of each person entitled to recover damages, and order distribution accordingly (after deducting funeral and similar expenses). It's also possible for punitive damages to be awarded.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Minnesota Wrongful Death Laws: Related Resources

If you'd like more information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links provided below.

Learn More About Minnesota Wrongful Death Laws: Talk to a Local Attorney

Even though money is no replacement for the loss of a loved one, it can help to pay for the expenses that may have resulted from the death. If you believe that you have a claim for wrongful death, it's a good idea to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn how Minnesota wrongful death laws apply to your particular situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.