Wrongful Death Suits and Accidents in Missouri

There is nothing more devastating than losing a family member due to a terrible accident. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to bring your loved one back, but there are some steps you can take to start the grieving process and pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the accident. When a person dies because of the fault of someone else, the survivors may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the perpetrator. Wrongful death occurs when a person causes the death of another due to negligent or intentional acts. Since a person who is deceased cannot pursue a cause of action for a person’s wrongdoing, the wrongful death lawsuit allows close family members to recover for damages on the deceased’s behalf. Wrongful death claims are usually appropriate in fatal accidents involving cars, motorcycles, trucks, or pedestrians. However they also occur in cases related to medical malpractice, product liability and even dog bites. As experienced St. Louis wrongful death attorneys, we understand how difficult it can be to lose a loved one in a fatal accident.

Missouri’s Wrongful Death Statute

One unique aspect of wrongful death cases is that they are governed by individual state statutes rather than case law decided by judges. According to Missouri law, an action for wrongful death can be brought in circumstances where, if the victim had not deceased, he or she would have been entitled to recover damages for the accident. For example, in a wrongful death suit involving a car accident, the person bringing the suit must prove a cause of action for negligence since that is what the victim would have pursued had he or she lived. In addition, the statute specifies who is eligible to bring a wrongful death suit. According the Missouri’s wrongful death statute, the following family members can file a wrongful death suit on the deceased’s behalf:

·      Spouse;

·      Children;

·      Grandkids (natural or adopted); or

·      Father or mother (natural or adopted).

The statute further states that if none of the above members of the family are alive, the deceased’s brother or sister can file suit as long as they can establish their right to do so under this section.

Recovery in a Wrongful Death Claim

Survivors in a wrongful death suit can be eligible to the same damages that the victim would have been eligible for if he or she would have been alive, in addition to pecuniary damages resulting from the victim’s untimely death. These damages include:

·      Economic damages: The amount of financial contributions the deceased would have made to the survivor if he or she had been alive.

·      Non-economic damages: Although these are not easy to compute, they include loss of companionship, consortium, comfort and support.

·      Punitive damages: Damages intended to punish the wrongdoer for egregious conduct.

Please note that Missouri’s wrongful death statute does not include recovery for grief and bereavement due to the victim’s death. In addition, Missouri law mandates that a suit for wrongful death be filed in a timely manner. A claim for wrongful death can be complex, thus it is imperative to contact a knowledgeable St. Louis personal injury attorney to ensure that your legal rights are well represented.

Joseph D. Klenofsky  |  St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney

The Klenofsky Law Firm, LLC