When someone is negligent to a degree that results in someone else’s death in St. Louis, they may be held liable to pay compensation to the family members left behind. However, these cases can be extremely complicated. There are many laws dictating various aspects of wrongful death lawsuits, including who can file them and what type of compensation family members can receive.

If you recently lost a loved one and someone else was to blame for the accident that caused their death, you should speak to a St. Louis wrongful death lawyer as soon as you are ready to do so. A compassionate and knowledgeable personal injury attorney could explain the many different legalities surrounding these cases and fight to get you compensation on behalf of your deceased family member.

Defining Wrongful Death in St. Louis

As complicated as wrongful death cases often become in Missouri, their core definition is quite simple. If someone has died as a result of someone else’s negligence and the deceased would have had valid reason to file a personal injury claim if they had survived, their death is a “wrongful” one under state civil law.

Because the deceased can no longer file a personal injury claim in these instances, surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim in order to claim compensation. In Missouri, family members can recover for the wrongful death of their loved one and the pain and suffering their loved ones experienced before their death.

Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Regarding who can file a wrongful death claim, state law establishes three categories ranked by priority. These are called classes of claimants. An individual from the second class of claimants cannot file for wrongful death if there are still living members in the first category.

The first category of individuals eligible to file a wrongful death claim includes the decedent’s spouse, parent(s), children, or grandchildren if the children are no longer living. The second category includes siblings of the decedent. If there are no living siblings, then their children, then the nieces or the nephews of the decedent are the eligible parties. The third category is a plaintiff ad litem—an individual appointed by the court on the request of a purported legal heir to the deceased.

Unlike in other areas, personal representatives named in a will cannot file a wrongful death claim in St. Louis unless they are a member of the eligible class of claimants. A personal representative may still file a survival action to collect compensation on behalf of the estate for damages the deceased experienced before their death, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Eligibility to file a wrongful death claim is often the first reason people look for a St. Louis wrongful death attorney. Your legal counsel should be able to help you determine the members of the class of claimants, who is eligible to file, and what is required of them to do so.

Calculating Damages

There are many types of compensation available in St. Louis wrongful death lawsuits, including pain and suffering, funeral expenses, medical expenses, loss of income, loss of companionship, and loss of guidance and counsel. In Missouri, there are no caps on the amount of damages available in such cases, except in cases that involve medical malpractice.

A knowledgeable St. Louis wrongful death lawyer will be able to explain how courts and juries calculate the damages in a wrongful death case. Each case is unique and requires substantial knowledge and experience handling wrongful death cases.

Contact a St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorney Today

There is a statute of limitations, or time limit, in Missouri of three years to file a wrongful death claim. Unlike other states that delay this statute when the person filing the claim is a minor, has a disability, or is in prison, that is not the case in St. Louis. If a wrongful death claim is filed after three years from the date of death, it would likely be thrown out of court.

This is one reason why it may be so important for you, your family, and anyone else who is eligible to file a claim to speak to a St. Louis wrongful death lawyer right away. A dedicated attorney could explain all the legalities surrounding wrongful death claims, make sure they are filed as soon as possible, and help you pursue financial restitution for your loss. Call today to get started.