Losing a loved one is never easy. But the stress and emotional toll of a family death could be exacerbated if another person’s negligence caused the death. An experienced trial lawyer could hold the person responsible for the wrongful death accountable through litigation.
No dollar amount is equivalent to the life of your loved one. However, if you or your family relied on the income of your deceased relative, you could be in a tight financial spot moving forward. A wrongful death lawsuit with a lawyer can seek damages resulting from the loss of support from the decedent. Call a Jefferson County wrongful death lawyer to learn more about the litigation process.
The Right to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In Missouri, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by an incident that would have otherwise entitled the victim to recover damages from. In other words, a wrongful death suit allows for a loved one to pursue the injury claim that the deceased person cannot.
However, not every surviving family member has the right to file a wrongful death suit in Missouri. Missouri Revised Statutes section 537.080 provides the specific rules for determining who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Missouri law provides for three different categories of surviving relatives that may file a wrongful death action. Members of the second category may only file if there are no living members of the first category. Likewise, members of the third category may only file if there are no living members of the other categories.
- Category 1: Spouse, parents, or children of the deceased
- Category 2: Siblings or their descendants
- Category 3: Court-appointed plaintiff ad litem
In the case of children not born into a marriage, Missouri law treats adopted children the same as children by birth. The courts also allow the descendants of the deceased person’s children to file suit assuming no one else from category one is alive. If there are multiple plaintiffs with the right to file a lawsuit, the first person to file has the right to maintain the suit. However, any person eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit may intervene in the case.
If no one from categories one or two has survived the decedent, the court may appoint a plaintiff ad litem to file the Jefferson County wrongful death lawsuit. This appointment could be anyone, but courts usually appoint surviving relatives that do not fit within any category.
Available Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Many of the recoverable losses, known as damages, available in a wrongful death lawsuit are similar to those in a car injury case. However, the damages available in each case are different, and it often falls upon a Jefferson County wrongful death attorney to identify the types of damages a surviving heir may recover. Wrongful death damages often include:
- Funeral, burial, and cremation costs
- Medical bills from the decedent’s fatal injury or illness
- Pain and suffering of the deceased individual
- Loss of consortium
- Survivor benefits
- Lost future wages
Contact a Jefferson County Wrongful Death Attorney Right Away
The trauma from losing a loved one is overwhelming for most people. Returning to your daily business is challenging even without a wrongful death lawsuit to manage. If you want to hold the responsible person accountable while focusing on grieving and recovering from your loss, you may benefit from working with a Jefferson County wrongful death lawyer. An attorney can focus on your case so you don’t have to, all while working to achieve maximum compensation. Call today to learn how an attorney can help.