Wrongful Death Attorneys Offering Guidance In Festus, Missouri
Losing a loved one is a tragedy in any circumstances, but the pain can be exacerbated if the death is as a direct result of negligence.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is defined under Missouri law as being “the death of a person resulting from any act, conduct, occurrence transaction or circumstances which, if death had not ensured, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof.”
Essentially, a claim for wrongful death is a personal injury claim on the behalf of the deceased, who is no longer able to seek damages. The claim will be made against a person, or company, whose actions resulted in the death of another, whether these were negligent or intentional.
The rules about who can file such a lawsuit are very specific: a surviving spouse is first in line, along with any children, grandchildren, or the parents of the deceased. If the wrongful death involves a child, the parents will usually be the ones to file a claim. In the event that the deceased does not have a surviving spouse, children, parents, or grandchildren, a sibling may file the lawsuit. If no sibling, the responsibility falls to the personal representative of the estate. In the absence of a personal representative, a court-appointed ‘plaintiff ad litem’ will be in charge of the claim. This party must be requested by an individual who is “entitled to share in the proceeds” which arise from any wrongful death claim.
What Are Some Examples Of Wrongful Death Cases?
Making a claim for wrongful death covers a huge range of areas, and the most common of these include:
- Auto Accidents: Being involved in an accident with a car, truck, or motorcycle has the potential to cause serious injuries and, in some cases, death.
- Medical Malpractice: If a patient dies as the result of action or negligence from a medical professional, the surviving party may be entitled to bring about a case for wrongful death caused by medical malpractice.
- Product Liability: All product manufacturers are legally obliged to ensure that all products they create are safe and fit for public use. If a member of the public is killed by a faulty or defective product, there may be a case for wrongful death.
How Can You Prove Wrongful Death?
Missouri law states that there are four factors which must be proven if you wish to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. These must be proven in order to prove the liability of the defendant:
- The defendant had a duty of care to keep the deceased individual safe
- The defendant breached this duty of care
- This breach resulted in a severe accident or incident
- The accident or incident led to the fatal injury that caused the death
What Damages Can I Claim?
If all of these criteria are satisfied, you may be able to pursue the defendant for damages and compensation, on behalf of the deceased. These damages can help cover losses, including:
- Any burial or funeral expenses
- Any medical expenses related to the final injury or illness suffered by the deceased
- Pain and suffering which was suffered by the deceased prior to death
- The value and cost of any wages or benefits which would have been received by the deceased, had they survived
- The “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” that was provided by the deceased to the surviving family members.
- The value of child or elder care provided by the deceased
- In the event of a child’s death, damages may include loss of wages for the earning parent, or the average of both wages if both parents were working.
Are There Any Restrictions?
There are financial restrictions, or caps, on the damages which can be awarded in medical malpractice cases – non-economic damages are here limited to $350,000. This does not include economic damages such as lost wages or medical expenses.
In addition, the statute of limitations places a three-year limit on the perusal of a wrongful death claim, which starts from the date of death.
How Can We Help?
Here at Grafe & Batchelor, P.C., we have extensive experience in handling personal injury cases, including wrongful death. Get in touch today and see how we can help you take the first steps to justice. You can reach us at (636) 933-9151.