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What is a “Wrongful Death” Claim?

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2017 | Estate Planning News |


When a Loved One has died because of a negligent or intentional act of someone else, the survivors of the Loved one may have a claim for a money recovery against the person or persons who caused the death.

We say “persons” because more than one individual may have contributed to the death.

For example, suppose a person goes into a bar and the bartender knowingly gives him alcohol when the person is obviously intoxicated and a friend gives the intoxicated person the keys to the friend’s car and the drunken man then runs over a bicyclist and kills her. The woman’s family may have a claim against all three. That is, they may sue the drunk driver, the bar and friend who lent him his car.

A ‘wrongful death” case is different from a probate proceeding since the procedures are different and the persons who may make a claim are not always the same. For example, in a Wrongful Death case, an employer who depended on her or an adult relative who relied on the woman for his financial support could be claimants.

The same attorney who handles the woman’s probate may also handle the wrongful death case. Or the attorney may refer the wrongful death case to another attorney to conduct.

In most of these cases, insurance companies will represent, for example, the drunk driver, the bar or the careless friend. Insurance companies are skilled at denying claims or minimizing amounts to be paid out so you should always obtain the services of an experienced lawyer to deal with the insurance companies.

An insurance company may deny coverage for the guilty person if the injury resulted from an intentional act by the person who is insured. Under Minnesota law, drunk driving is considered a negligent act and not an intentional one.

When a Loved One has died a violent death, it often takes some time for the family to come to grips with their loss. However, the family must realize that the time in which to bring a claim is very short. Under Minnesota law, the time for any claim except murder is only three years. However, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the death since witnesses, evidence and even guilty persons may become difficult to locate with the passage of time.

[Photo: Courtesy of canstockphoto.com/ Bialasiewicz]