The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Understanding Crow Wing County Wrongful Death Claims
March 19, 2019
Car crashes, falls, and other accidents almost always cause visible and invisible injuries. The visible injuries are usually easier to deal with than the invisible ones. Broken bones, internal injuries, and other such wounds usually heal in a few months, at least to a large extent. But emotional wounds often linger for decades or even longer.
An attorney cannot go back in time and prevent an accident, especially if that accident was someone else’s fault. However, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer can fight for the financial compensation a family deserves. These resources help them carry on. Furthermore, a Brainerd personal injury lawyer can also obtain justice and a sense of closure.
What Causes Wrongful Death?
All kinds of accidents often cause serious injuries. First responders at the scene and doctors at the hospital are often able to save victims, but there is only so much they can do. Some of the leading causes of wrongful death in Minnesota are:
Poisonings: Several years ago, unintentional poisonings (usually drug overdoses) overtook motor vehicle collisions and became the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. These deaths include prescription drug-induced incidents as well as heroin overdoses. That illegal drug is usually the next step up for opioid addicts.
Motor Vehicle Crashes: Most vehicles are much more crash-resistant today than they were in the 1990s. But prompt medical attention is essential. Many times, especially in rural areas like Brainerd, emergency responders simply cannot get to the scene quickly enough.
Falls: These fatal incidents are especially common among victims over 65. Many of these falls occur in area nursing homes. Falls from a height, particularly among construction workers, are a serious problem as well.
Suffocations: Smoke inhalation causes most suffocation-related deaths. Many times, these fires are not “accidental.” Sometimes people intentionally cause these fires, and other times, there are not enough working smoke detectors in a building or dwelling.
Drownings: Unintentional drowning is the leading cause of death, and not just injury-related death, among children under 4. Especially in situations like these, the brain can only survive without oxygen for a few minutes.
Substantial compensation is usually available in situations like these, as outlined below. A Brainerd personal injury lawyer can review your situation and explain your legal options.
Significantly, many of these types of wrongful death involve third-party liability. For example, in a suffocation death, a landlord might not have provided sufficient safety equipment for tenants. Vicarious liability is very important in wrongful death cases, because the individual tortfeasor (negligent actor) may not have sufficient insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.
Your Claim for Damages
There is an old saying among Brainerd personal injury lawyers that wherever there is a wrong, there is a remedy. That saying is not always accurate, but it is true in this context. Several different approaches might be available, and poisoning deaths are a good illustration. Different responsible parties may trigger different theories of liability:
Manufacturer and Defective Product: Opioid manufacturers already face over 1,000 lawsuits which allege that they deceptively marketed pain pills and/or the manufacturers knew these pills were dangerous. Typically, manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries that their defective products cause.
Opioid Distributors and Negligence Per Se: The companies which delivered pain pills to Brainerd pharmacies are not just shipping companies. Under federal law, these firms must not put dangerous drugs in the hands of ordinary people. Arguably, that is exactly what happened. If a tortfeasor violated a safety law, and that violation substantially caused injury, the tortfeasor is responsible for damages as a matter of law.
Physicians and Negligence: Negligence is basically a lack of ordinary care. Treating physicians who prescribe powerful opioids when something weaker would suffice arguably violate their duty of care. The same thing applies to doctors who write opioid prescriptions and do not ask questions. These claims are normally easy for Brainerd personal injury lawyers to establish in court, because the doctor-patient duty is extremely high.
Wrongful death victims may be entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages. Additional punitive damages are available if the tortfeasor behaved recklessly or intentionally disregarded a known risk. Doctors and corporations that place profits before people certainly fit that mold.
Brainerd Personal Injury Lawyers and Procedural Issues
In most cases, survivors who were related to the deceased person by blood or marriage may file a wrongful death action in Minnesota. If the survivors are from out of state or otherwise unable to pursue a claim, they may ask a Crow Wing County judge to appoint a trustee. These individuals are generally entitled to pecuniary losses. Such losses include:
Funeral and burial expenses,
Medical bills related to the deceased’s final illness or injury,
Loss of future emotional and financial support, and
Their own grief and suffering.
Minnesota’s wrongful death statute is more victim-friendly than the laws in some other states. Many other jurisdictions sharply limit the compensation that wrongful death survivors may obtain.