Wrongful Death Q&A

Who can sue in a wrongful death action?

Whenever the death of a person results from either the intentional wrongdoing or negligence of another, the person, party, or corporation causing the death is liable to the following class of individuals:

  1. Class One: the spouse or children of the surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children, natural or adopted, legitimate or illegitimate, or by the father or mother of the deceased, natural or adoptive.
  2. Class Two: if no one in class one is entitled to bring a wrongful death action, then the brother or sister of the deceased, or their descendants, can bring a wrongful death action if they can establish their right to those damages as set forth in Missouri Revised Statutes Section 537.090 as a result of a death.
  3. Class Three: if there are no individuals in classes one or two entitled to bring a wrongful death action, then a plaintiff ad litem can bring such suit.

What is a Plaintiff Ad Litem?

A Plaintiff Ad Litem is a person appointed by the court having jurisdiction over a wrongful death action upon application of a person entitled to share in any wrongful death proceeds. A Plaintiff Ad Litem must be a suitable person who is competent to prosecute a wrongful death case and whose appointment is requested on behalf of any persons entitled to share in the proceeds of a wrongful death action.

Can a lower-class member sue if a higher-class member survives and sues?

No.

If I bring a wrongful death action, do I have to notify other potential class members entitled to sue?

A claimant or plaintiff in a wrongful death action must make a diligent attempt to notify any other persons having a cause of action under the statute.

How much time do I have to sue?

In Missouri, class members typically have 3 years to file suit in circuit court. However, other factors can come into consideration which can lessen your time for filing suit. Therefore, it is critical that individuals wanting to sue do not delay.

If I sue along with other class members, what portion am I entitled to receive?

If more than one class member sues, and if an agreement cannot be made between the class members on the percentage of recovery they should get, an apportionment hearing will be held before the judge within the circuit that the case is pending. At the apportionment hearing, evidence will be introduced and the judge will issue a ruling determining the percentage of recovery each class member receives.

Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer in St. Louis

If you have lost a loved one and would like additional information on wrongful death claims, please call Attorney Ryan R. Cox at 636-946-6886. Mr. Cox can assist you during this most difficult time and he will answer any questions you may have. Ryan R. Cox & Associates have the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you.