Only one thing is more heartbreaking than losing a loved one: Losing one because another person was reckless or careless. We know while you grieve, you may not be thinking of anything else. But there are bills to pay and final arrangements to make, and you need money, especially if the decedent was the family’s breadwinner.
Missouri has laws addressing accidents where people are harmed or killed by negligent acts. A compassionate injury attorney could help a decedent’s family pursue compensation to help cover the expenses resulting from their loved one’s death. Generally, if the decedent would have met the criteria for filing a personal injury lawsuit, the family should be able to file a similar suit. Contact a St. Louis wrongful death lawyer to discuss your family’s situation.
Wrongful Death and Negligence
Negligence must be proven in wrongful death lawsuits, as with personal injury claims. Negligence involves one party acting unacceptably, causing someone else to be harmed, even to death. For example, if a trucker runs a red light and slams into a motorcyclist, the motorcyclist could bring a personal injury lawsuit, but if the accident is fatal, family members may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Other than motor vehicle accidents, incidents leading to wrongful deaths may include:
- Medical malpractice
- Accidents at work caused by substandard working conditions
- Nursing home abuse
- Domestic violence
- Dangerous and defective products
- Murder or any death resulting from criminal activity
A diligent St. Louis attorney could investigate the circumstances surrounding a wrongful death by reviewing medical and police reports, talking to eyewitnesses, interviewing family members, and consulting with forensic experts to determine if a lawsuit is appropriate.
Parties Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri
In Missouri, only specific relatives in a specific order can bring an action for wrongful death. The Revised Statutes of Missouri Section 537.080 allows the following parties to file a claim in the following order, a deceased person’s:
- Children, natural or adopted
- Lineal descendants of deceased children
- Parents, including adoptive parents
- Siblings or their descendants
Siblings must establish their rights under Statute 537.090, which the jury will use to determine the losses available to the person filing the claim. For example, a spouse could recover loss of companionship and consortium and lost wages if the decedent was employed; however, a distant relative who does not remember the decedent could not prove such losses. Missouri state law asserts that compensation for grief is not recoverable by any party.
If no spouse or other family files an action, the court can appoint a plaintiff ad litem at the request of the family entitled to share in any financial recovery the jury awards.
Only one action can be brought against a single defendant for causing the death of a specific person. The laws surrounding wrongful death claims are complicated, and the advice of a knowledgeable attorney should be sought before filing a wrongful death lawsuit in St. Louis.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Missouri allows eligible parties three years to file wrongful death lawsuits. The time accrues from the date of death. Though, the clock may be extended if the defendant leaves the state and cannot be served the complaint. A dedicated legal professional could help a family ensure the legal timeframes are met when filing a wrongful death claim with a St. Louis court.
A St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorney Understands Your Grief
Your grief after losing a loved one is personal. Nobody can tell you how your bereavement should feel or how long it should last. But we may be able to help ease some of the financial burdens you may face if your family member’s death was caused by the negligence or intentional acts of another. You may be eligible for compensation to cover funeral expenses and end-of-life care, as well as other losses your family has and will suffer.
If a spouse is no longer there to comfort you, parent their children, or contribute a paycheck, your life is further devastated in monetary and emotional ways. If your family member could have filed a personal injury case against the defendant but passed away instead, you could have a viable case. Sit down with a St. Louis wrongful death lawyer and learn how we may be able to help you.