A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action brought by someone who has lost a loved one due to another person's negligence or wrongdoing. The person bringing the suit is seeking compensation for their loss as well as an order to make sure that this type of incident never happens again. The lawsuit may be filed against the wrongdoer or the entity responsible for their actions, including an employer, landlord, or health care provider.
Wrongful death cases can be complicated, and they often involve a great deal of evidence. If you're considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it's essential to speak with a lawyer who understands the process and can help you navigate these difficult waters.
The wrongful death lawyers at Peterson & Associates, P.C. can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact our Kansas City wrongful death attorneys today for a free case evaluation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?
To file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri, you must be a "statutory beneficiary." What does that mean? It means that you must be a relative of the victim who falls into one of the following categories:
If you are not a relative, you may still be able to file a lawsuit if you can prove you were financially dependent on the victim.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
A wrongful death case is one in which a person dies as a result of someone's negligence or negligent action. Negligence is defined as the failure to act in a reasonable manner that causes harm. In some cases, injury or death can also be caused by willful or intentional actions.
Negligence can be either active or passive. An example of active negligence would be if an individual drives recklessly, causing an accident that results in injury or death. Passive negligence is when an individual fails to take reasonable safety precautions that are required under the circumstances. For example, if a person leaves a toddler unattended in a car seat for too long, this could be considered negligent because the child is vulnerable and subject to the elements.
For a wrongful death case to be successful, the plaintiff must prove several elements, such as:
- The negligence of the defendant
- The defendant's negligence caused the victim's death
- The defendant is legally liable for the death
- Monetary damages are appropriate
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?
When you file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri, you can seek damages for a variety of losses.
Medical and Funeral Expenses
A person may be entitled to seek compensation for the costs associated with wrongful death, such as funeral expenses or the cost of treating a family member who was negatively affected by the death.
Lost Income and Benefits
A person may be entitled to seek compensation for the loss of income and benefits due to a loved one's death. This may include Social Security benefits, pensions, and other benefits.
Pain and Suffering
A person may be entitled to seek compensation for the mental pain and suffering resulting from the wrongful death.
Loss of Consortium
A person may also be entitled to seek compensation for the loss of their spouse's companionship, society, and connection to family. Loss of consortium can be substantial for the spouse if there is no other person to take care of the spouse's physical and emotional needs. An example would be if the spouse depended on their partner for all their financial needs.
Loss of Inheritance
A person may also be entitled to seek compensation for the loss of any future inheritance. For example, a person entitled to receive their parents' estate may be entitled to seek compensation for the loss of that inheritance.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?
Missouri's statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is three years. This means you have three years from your loved one's death to file a lawsuit. However, it's important to note that this is just a general rule, and there may be exceptions depending on the circumstances of your case. That's why it's smart to speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after your loved one's death.
How to Find the Right Wrongful Death Lawyer
When you're looking for a wrongful death lawyer, choosing someone with the experience and know-how to get the job done right is essential. How do you go about finding the right lawyer for you? Here are a few tips:
- Do your research. Make sure to read reviews and compare pricing before making a decision.
- Ask around. Talk to friends and family members who may have gone through a similar situation and ask for recommendations.
- Meet with multiple lawyers. Don't just choose the first one you come across—meet with several lawyers to better understand what they can offer you.
- Go with your gut feeling. Ultimately, it would be best if you felt comfortable with the lawyer you choose, so trust your gut instinct when making your final decision.
Questions to Ask a Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you've lost a loved one in an accident that wasn't their fault, you may be considering hiring a wrongful death lawyer. While this is an important decision, it can be tough to know where to start. Here are some questions to ask a Kansas City wrongful death lawyer to help you make the right choice:
- How much experience do you have with wrongful death lawsuits?
- What is your success rate?
- How would you approach my case?
- What are your fees?
- Do you have any references I can speak to?