The facts of wrongful death in Missouri

Losing a loved one is never easy. However, if the death was caused by the negligence of someone else, it is often more difficult, as there is often anger and other emotions mixed in with the feelings of grief. Aside from the emotional pain you feel, when you lose a loved one, you can also experience financial losses from the loss of the loved one's income, as well as the medical bills and funeral expense brought on by the death. Although nothing can return you to the happier times before the death, Missouri law allows you to recoup many of your financial losses caused by it.

Under the law, certain persons are entitled to recover these losses by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is appropriate when someone is killed because of the neglect, carelessness, negligence or intentional acts of someone else. Since the decedent is not alive to file the lawsuit, his or her family or estate files the lawsuit to recover his or her losses, as well as their own losses.

Acts that may constitute wrongful death are plentiful in day-to-day life. For one, fatal motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of wrongful death lawsuits. However, wrongful death also often occurs in fatal cases of medical malpractice, criminal acts and workplace accidents. Although the party responsible for the death may also face criminal charges for his or her role in the death, the outcome of the criminal trial does not affect the right of the wrongful death lawsuit, as it is a separate civil proceeding.

Recovery rules

Persons that are eligible to recover for the wrongful death of a family member are limited under Missouri law. Under the law, only the spouse and children of the deceased may recover in the majority of cases. However, if the decedent does not have children and is unmarried, his or her siblings may recover.

Several types of losses may be compensated in the lawsuit. Economic losses such as the decedent's funeral, burial and medical expenses may be recovered. Also, the compensation for the decedent's pain and suffering experienced just before death is recoverable. Eligible family members may also seek compensation for loss of the decedent's income, companionship, financial support and parental guidance. If the conduct causing the death was intentional, reckless or demonstrated indifference for other's safety, punitive damages may be recovered.

Speak with an attorney

If you have lost a loved one due to someone's careless acts, it is vital to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible, as important evidence of negligence may be lost or disappear over time. An attorney can obtain and preserve the necessary evidence and work to recover fair and adequate compensation under Missouri law.