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Wrongful Death Cases

When someone passes away, the financial burden on the family is often immense. But when someone passes away due to the negligent or intentional actions of an individual or organization, neither the family nor the deceased are to blame. Unfortunately though they often suffer.
That’s why the financial burden should not lie with the family. The law recognizes this and instead allows for those it believes are most financially harmed by this death to bring suit:

  • The victim’s spouse
  • The victim’s minor children
  • The victim’s adult children if they were dependent upon the victim
  • The victim’s parents

The law can be thought of as a personal injury claim that is made on behalf of the decedent, who is no longer able to bring charges. Additionally, the law takes into account the loss of emotional support and guidance that individuals provide for their spouses, parents, and children.
However, if there are no spouses, parents, or children to survive the decedent, then a surviving sibling may be entitled to bring the claim. If there are no surviving siblings, then a personal representative of the estate may bring the suit.
Finally, if there is no personal representative to file a claim, the court appoints a “plaintiff ad litem” to do so.  A plaintiff ad litem may be appointed by an individual who is subject to share in the proceeds of the claim should it be successful.
The most common types of losses for which damages may be available include:

  • Medical bills related to the injury or illness;
  • Funeral/burial expenses;
  • Pain and suffering the decedent experienced prior to passing away; and
  • The reasonable value of what the decedent provided to the surviving family members (i.e. comfort, companionship, guidance, instruction, training, counsel, and support).

It is imperative to keep in mind that the state of Missouri has a time limit for when a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed. If the case is not filed within three years of the date that the decedent died, the court will likely refuse to hear it at all and the family or personal representative will be banned from seeking a civil remedy for the death of their loved one.

When bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, you may bring a claim for whatever the decedent would have been able to bring had he or she not died. For instance, if the individual who died was killed by another person’s negligence, then he or she would have been able to bring a negligence claim had he or she survived.

But since he or she did not survive, his or her aforementioned loved ones may bring the same suit. Similarly, the individual bringing a wrongful death suit must prove the same elements that the deceased would have been obligated to prove.

For instance, if the decedent’s family is bringing a claim of negligence, they must prove the four elements of negligence:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Cautation
  • Damages

Since you were not there when your loved one received the injury, etc. that caused his or her death, you don’t need to know the right person to sue.

At a time when you are grieving such a loss, you should not have to worry about the details of building a case. The job of a qualified personal injury attorney is to investigate the situation, obtain evidence, and figure out the facts.

At Dreesen Law, we will work hard to help you move forward and obtain the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us via the chat option below, by phone at 573-4040-LAW or through our contact form by clicking here.