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Wrongful Death Suit Viable In Cottonwood

February 23, 2008, 6:06 PM by Henry Rosoff

Family members of the victims in deadly crashes such as these do have legal options, but Minnesota law makes accidents involving the death of children much more complicated. 

"I'm first struck by the tragedy,” said Jim Malters, who handles three or four wrongful death cases each year around the state. “But then you have to sort out all the legal issues." 

The families of Hunter and Jesse Javens, Emilee Olson and Reed Stevens, will have to have a long road ahead of them. Alianiss Morales, 23, is charged with causing their death and could face serious prison time if found guilty. 

"A wrongful death action in Minnesota would be brought [when] another person wrongfully or negligently caused the death of another person and as a result their heirs were injured," Malters said. 

According to court papers, Morales, was driving fast and did not stop at a stop sign before broad-siding the bus full of children. 

If the parents of the victims wish, they could join together to file a wrongful death suit against Morales. However in Minnesota, the law is not very broad and cases where the victims are children, lawyers use previous cases as precedent. 

“In reality, the huge loss is the ability to talk to the child and when you get older for them to visit you and comfort you and make you're day brighter," said Malters, adding that the law does not account for these things. 

Malters said good lawyer can help a family win a wrongful death lawsuit, and the defendant would have to pay money for the family's loss. And filing the suit can be a difficult decision in difficult times. 

"Some people say: ‘It's my child and no amount of money will ever make it worth my while. If I accept money its blood money,’” Malters said. “Other people are very angry and want to ring every possible penny, and then some, out of the person that caused the accident." 

Malters also said Morales's immigration status will not make a difference in a potential wrongful death suit.

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