What is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim in the state of Missouri is a legal avenue that can hold responsible parties accountable, seek justice for your loved one, and recover compensation to help fill the financial gap left behind by their death.
The defendant either intentionally caused the death or it occurred due to their negligence or misconduct. This type of claim allows either the estate, family members, or people close to the deceased person to file a claim against a party liable for the death.
Wrongful death claims are often filed in the wake of life-altering events that include, but are not limited to:
And much more. Generally, if any type of death occurred under negligent circumstances, you may be able to seek compensation that you feel is fair. At The Hayden Law Firm, we are committed to providing impeccable, singularly client-focused service during the most challenging times. This is when it matters most to have someone on your side who cares. Contact our wrongful death lawyer in St. Louis, MO, to see how we can help.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death in Missouri
Under Missouri law, only one wrongful death action may be brought for the death of any one person and, furthermore, only certain people are allowed to file a lawsuit. Section 537.080 of the Missouri Revised Statutes sets forth three classes of people who may file a wrongful death claim:
- Class 1 – parents, spouse, children, and lineal descendants such as grandchildren and great grandchildren
- Class 2 – siblings, nieces, and nephews
- Class 3 – plaintiff ad litem
Missouri’s wrongful death law gives preference to the first class of people, but if the decedent had no one who qualifies in this category, then the second category of potential claimants may step forward. If no one qualifies for either category, the court may appoint a plaintiff ad litem to prosecute the action.
If you qualify in one of these classes and are thinking about pursuing justice for someone who has died because of another person’s or entity’s negligence, keep in mind that there are restrictions on how long you have to file a claim. In most situations, a wrongful death claim has to be filed within three years of the date of the death in Missouri.
It’s best to file as soon as possible after an accident to ensure that your rights are protected from the start. We know this can be challenging to do when grieving the sudden loss of a spouse, child, parent, or close family member. The Hayden Law Firm is here for you when you are ready to talk.
St. Louis Wrongful Death Damages
Some people may think that it is somehow wrong or there’s no reason to pursue a wrongful death claim because nothing can be done to bring the person back. At The Hayden Law Firm, we believe that wrongful death claims are about justice. They are effective avenues to hold the person or entity accountable as well as to call attention to an act before anyone else gets hurt.
A personal injury lawyer in St. Louis, MO, will help you seek compensation in the form of pecuniary loss, which is out-of-pocket money that was lost as a direct result of the death. These expenses include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Hospital, doctor and medical bills incurred before the death
- Grief counseling after the death
- Loss of future income
- Loss of future benefits
In some cases, damages can be awarded for non-monetary items that the surviving family members were deprived of since the death of the loved one. These damages may include:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of support, guidance, training, counsel, and instruction
- Loss of instruction to children
- Punitive damages may also be recovered to punish the negligent party if their conduct shocked the conscience of the community
A number of factors are considered when determining damages in a wrongful death case including the deceased’s age, health, condition, life expectancy, intelligence, character, and earning capacity at the time of death. This is often difficult to prove in court without the help of an experienced St. Louis wrongful death lawyer at The Hayden Law Firm on your side. Contact us to learn more.