Minnesota’s New Survivorship Statute Allows Survivors to Seek More Compensation
Effective May 20, 2023, there are two big changes in wrongful death claims in Minnesota. First, a personal injury claim can continue after the victim dies (even if the death was not caused by the original claim). Previously, the law stated these cases end when the victim passes away, other than a claim for unpaid medical bills. Second, there is now a claim for the pain and emotional distress suffered by the decedent when they die.
Minnesota’s new Survivorship Statute also amends existing law to say that recovery in these cases is for “all damages suffered by the decedent” that resulted from the injury that occurred prior to death. This change applies whether the victim’s death was caused by the accident or by some unrelated cause.
This means these lawsuits may be able to include compensation for non-economic damages, which may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Before this change to the law (573.01 Survival of Causes Subdivision 1. Death action.), wrongful death cases could only include pecuniary losses that resulted from the death if the death was caused by the same incident. Pecuniary losses are economic losses, such as medical costs and lost wages as well non-economic damages sustained by surviving family members. The previous law did not recognize damages for the person that actually died, nor did it allow for surviving family members to seek non-economic damages if the death was unrelated to the original injury incident. The new law does.
Another change with this new law is the time limit for pursuing a case when someone dies from a cause unrelated to the injury. Legal action must commence within three years of the date of death and no more than six years from the date of the injury. These same rules apply to claims in which the victim died because of the injury. It is also important to note there is no statute of limitations for claims involving victims of murder.
These are all monumental changes that apply to all future causes of action and any claims that were pending as of May 20, 2023. Unfortunately, this change is long overdue, as Minnesota is the last state in the nation to adopt this type of law. A total of 49 states have had the same statute, or something similar, since 2008. It is long past due that Minnesota recognizes a modern wrongful death action.
This was not a Democrat or Republican issue, as the bill that was voted into law had bipartisan support.
How This Affects Insurance Companies
In the past, insurance companies often tried to delay the legal process when the victim had a potentially fatal injury. This was particularly common in nursing home abuse cases.
Insurers did this because they knew that once victims died, a significant portion of their claims died with them. That meant insurance companies would have much less financial liability.
However, the new law means delaying the process is no longer an effective strategy for insurance companies.
It is important to note this does not mean insurance companies will immediately offer full compensation to claimants. Insurance companies are still going to fight hard to avoid accountability and pay out as little compensation as possible.
That is why victims need an experienced attorney to manage their case. At TSR, we have been helping injured victims for decades. We have extensive knowledge of the many aspects of the legal process, including relevant laws.
In fact, TSR Partners Rich Ruohonen and Jenny Olson discussed the new law in a Zoom webinar on June 21st, 2023. The webinar, titled “The New Survivorship Law and What You Need to Know”, was put on by the Minnesota Association for Justice (MNAJ). It covered how personal injury lawyers and their staff can adapt law firm procedures to accommodate the new law.
Rich Ruohonen regularly speaks about personal injury litigation and has written several articles on the subject. He is also a past president of the MNAJ.
Can This New Law Help You? Call TSR Injury Law Today to Find Out How
While recovering compensation cannot erase what occurred, it does provide some amount of justice for the victim’s loved ones. This is particularly true when claimants can seek compensation for ALL of the damages that occurred.
TSR Injury Law has been a tireless advocate for the injured in Minnesota for decades. Our firm has obtained more than $1 billion on behalf of our clients. We are ready to help you and there are no upfront costs.
Contact us to schedule your free legal consultation. Call (612) TSR-TIME.