Losing a loved one is obviously a painful experience for any family. When your loved one’s death was caused by another person’s or entity’s wrongful acts or omissions, it can make the pain of your loss much tougher.
If someone caused your loved one’s passing, you and your family deserve to seek compensation. You may be entitled to economic and non-economic losses due to your loved one’s passing. Those losses may include their last medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost economic contributions, and the loss of their companionship and society.
You and your family may also want to secure a measure of justice over the loss of your loved one. However, pursuing a wrongful death claim can be a complex, time-intensive process. As you recover from that loss, you may not have the time, energy, and focus to devote to a wrongful death claim.
We can help. Contact the Law Office of Andrew S. Martin, LLC, today. You can schedule a consultation to speak with our Lynchburg wrongful death attorney. We will discuss your rights and options to seek the financial compensation and justice you, your family and your departed loved one deserve.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?
Under Missouri law, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by a “statutory beneficiary.” The law defines a statutory beneficiary as:
A surviving spouse
Surviving children or grandchildren
Surviving parents or siblings
A court appointed plaintiff
Willful – The at-fault party intended to cause your loved one’s death.
Reckless – The at-fault party consciously disregarded a substantial risk that caused your loved one’s death.
Negligent – The at-fault party owed a duty of care to your loved one, failed to fulfill that duty, and thereby caused his or her death.
Under Missouri law, a deceased person’s surviving parents, spouse and children and grandchildren have the first right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If they don’t file the suit or there is no surviving parent, spouse, children or grandchildren, the right to file that lawsuit goes to the surviving siblings or siblings’ children or grandchildren. If those parties fail to file a lawsuit, a court may appoint a plaintiff to file the claim.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Do you believe that your loved one’s passing was caused by the wrongful acts or omissions of another person? You have to prove the fault of that other party for your loved one’s death.
In a wrongful death claim, you must show that another party caused your loved one’s death due to a wrongful act or negligence. A wrongful act may be:
You must also show that the other party’s wrongful act directly and proximately caused your loved one’s death, or that your loved one would not have died but for the other party’s wrongful act and no other intervening, superseding causes were more responsible for your loved one’s death.
A wrongful death claim may be thought of as a personal injury claim that your loved one can no longer bring on his or her own behalf. Instead, your family brings a wrongful death claim to recover the damages your loved one would have been entitled to recover if he or she had lived. In addition, you may recover the damages you and your family incurred as a result of your loved one’s passing.
How Can a St. Charles Wrongful Death Attorney Help Your Family?
When you and your family have lost a loved one, pursuing a wrongful death claim can be a difficult process. A St. Charles wrongful death attorney can help your family seek the justice your loved one deserves. Here’s what the attorney will do:
Investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death and collect evidence such as police reports, photos and video, medical documents, and eyewitness statements.
Identify those responsible for your loved one’s passing.
Work with experts to determine how your loved one’s passing occurred and how and why someone else caused your loved one’s death.
Document your family’s damages by collecting medical and funeral invoices.
Develop evidence to show the value of the economic and non-economic losses caused by your loved one’s passing.
Aggressively negotiate for a full and fair settlement, fighting the tactics used by insurance companies and defense law firms to lower the maximum compensation you deserve.
Prepare to take your family’s wrongful death claim to trial, if necessary, making sure that all court filings are timely and correctly completed.
Advocate your case to the judge and jury to secure a verdict that gives you and your family the justice you need and deserve.
A Missouri wrongful death lawyer can take on the difficult process of pursuing compensation and justice while you and your family grieve for your loved one.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
The surviving family members of an individual who died due to the wrongful acts of another may be entitled to recover compensation for the financial and emotional damages caused by the loss of their loved one. Those damages may include:
Sorrow and mental anguish
The loss of the decedent’s society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice
The loss of the reasonably expected income of the decedent and of the decedent’s services, assistance, and care
In addition, a wrongful death lawsuit can recover damages that the decedent might have been entitled to recover in a lawsuit if he or she had survived, including:
Medical expenses to treat the decedent’s fatal injury or illness
Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
Finally, you and your family may also be entitled to recover punitive damages. Those damages are allowed if you can show that the decedent’s death was found to have been caused by willful conduct or by reckless conduct demonstrating conscious disregard for the safety of others.
Missouri Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
If you and your family have a wrongful death claim, you have a limited period of time in which to file a lawsuit to assert your claim. This period is known as the statute of limitations. The limitation period is three years from the date of your loved one’s death.
A court may agree to pause, or “toll,” the statute of limitations under certain circumstances. Most frequently, the statute of limitations can be tolled if the facts underlying a wrongful death claim are not known and could not be discovered through reasonable investigation.
For example, suppose a loved one passed due to the malpractice of a medical provider. However, the provider’s negligence is not immediately known. In that instance, the statute of limitations on a wrongful death lawsuit may be tolled.
A wrongful death claim can also be statutorily tolled during the period the claim is pending in court if it is later dismissed for reasons other than the merits of the claim.
If a wrongful death lawsuit is filed after the statute of limitations expires, the court can permanently dismiss the lawsuit. That means you and your family may lose your right to seek compensation for your loved one’s passing.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
A wrongful death occurs whenever a person’s life is lost due to the wrongful acts or omissions of another party. Our St. Charles wrongful death lawyer handles wrongful death claims that arise from these common causes:
Slip and fall accidents
No matter what event caused your loved one’s passing, when it resulted from the wrongful action of another, our wrongful death attorney can help you and your family get the compensation and justice you need and deserve.
Talk to a Missouri Wrongful Death Lawyer Now
If you and your family have lost a loved one due to the wrongful acts or omissions of another party, you and your family deserve to seek compensation and justice for your loss. Contact the Law Office of Andrew S. Martin, LLC, today. You can schedule a consultation with a Missouri wrongful death attorney to discuss your rights and options. You will learn how our firm can help you and your family secure some measure of justice for the loss of your loved one.