Wrongful Death: You Can’t Change the Past, But You Can Still Have a Future

When you lose a loved one, the emotional devastation and financial burden arising from such a loss can be daunting. If the fatal accident was the result of another party’s carelessness or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation for medical costs, funeral expenses, and other economic losses.

Wrongful Death in Missouri

Missouri Revised Statutes section 537.080 defines wrongful death as a fatality arising from any incident which, had the victim not died, would have entitled them to recover damages. What this means is that a wrongful death lawsuit is essentially a personal injury claim made on behalf of someone who has been killed and cannot seek justice and compensation themselves. In Missouri, this claim is filed by family members with legally recognized standing to do so.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?

State law gives people who are closely related to the deceased person the right to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. There is a priority in terms of legal standing to file: for example, if the victim was married, the surviving spouse and children typically have priority, followed by the victim’s  grandchildren and parents. In Missouri, potential claimants are, in order of priority:

  • “Class 1:” Spouses of the deceased person and children (natural or adopted), grandchildren and parents
  • “Class 2:” Siblings of the deceased or their descendants if there is no one in Class 1 entitled to bring an action
  • “Class 3:” A plaintiff ad litem, if there are no Class 1 or Class 2 representatives.  A plaintiff ad litem is any suitable person competent to prosecute a claim upon application of a person entitled to share in the proceeds of the claim.

What Damages Can be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When filing a lawsuit against the party or entity responsible for the fatal incident, you may seek compensation for damages such as:

  • Medical expenses incurred before the person passed away
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of future income and benefits that the deceased would have earned if they had lived
  • Reasonable value for the loss of support and guidance, consortium, and other benefits that surviving family members would have realized
  • Antemortem pain and suffering of the deceased

Unlike some states, there is no dollar limit on wrongful death claims in Missouri unless the death resulted from medical malpractice.  It is important to remember, however, that in Missouri, you generally must file a wrongful death lawsuit in court within three years of the person’s death. Otherwise you will lose the right to secure compensation for the loss of your loved one.

At Ryan R. Cox & Associates, we understand that filing a wrongful death lawsuit can never bring your loved one back and that money can never fully compensate you for their loss. It can, however, give you some closure and obtain the financial resources needed for your family’s well-being. We are here to hold the wrongdoer accountable and get the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us or call 636-946-6886 today for a free and confidential consultation.

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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