Nick Rauch and Mohamed Ibrahim
The 2023 legislative session brought sweeping changes to wrongful death claims in Minnesota. Specifically, Governor Walz is expected to sign into law the “Survivorship Bill” (S.F. 997) approved by the state legislature earlier this session.
Prior to the enactment of the Survivorship Bill, claims for personal injury could not survive upon the death of the injured party. See Minn. Stat. § 573.01. The estate, or surviving heirs, could only recover claims for special damages and the pecuniary loss of aid, comfort society, and companionship. Id. Under this structure, wrongful death actions were limited to special damages (including (but not limited to) medical expenses, lost wages, and future earning capacity) and pecuniary loss of the family members.
The Survivorship Bill now amends the language of Minn. Stat. § 573.01 & 573.02. The bill amends the language of Minn. Stat. § 573.01 to allow personal injury actions to survive the death of the party. The bill also amends the language of Minn. Stat. § 573.02 to permit the claimant to recover “all damages suffered by the decedent resulting from the injury prior to the decedent’s death.” These amendments significantly expand the scope of recovery for all wrongful death claims. A cause of action arising from injury will now survives the death of the injured party. Additionally, the decedent’s heirs can now pursue “all damages” as if the decedent survived (including pre-death pain and suffering).
These new laws will take effect shortly. These new changes will apply to all cases that are pending on, or commenced after, the enactment date. In other words, the amendments will now apply to all current and future cases filed in district court.
The Survivorship Bill may expand the potential recovery for all current and future wrongful death claims in Minnesota. Some attorneys may ask for continuances, additional expert disclosures, and reschedule current trial settings because of this recent update. Further discovery, experts, and depositions may be necessary to appropriately evaluate additional damages claims.
Reach out to a Larson • King attorney if you have any questions about the information above.
 Mohamed Ibrahim, University of St. Thomas School of Law, JD Candidate, May 2024.