Missouri law allows those losing close family members to negligent acts
to hold the responsible party accountable.
The unexpected loss of a loved one can cause painful feelings. If the loved
one’s death was caused by someone else’s carelessness, the experience
is particularly horrific. In addition to the feelings of emotional loss,
the death can cause financial losses because of the loss of income, medical
bills and other expenses stemming from the tragic loss.
Fortunately, Missouri law allows those in this situation to recover these
expenses by filing a
wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death occurs when a person’s death is caused by
the carelessness, neglect or intentional acts of another person. This
type of lawsuit is different from other personal injury lawsuits in the
sense that the actual victim of the wrongful conduct does not file the
lawsuit. Instead, the decedent’s family members or estate brings the lawsuit.
Conduct that may warrant a wrongful death lawsuit happens in everyday life.
Fatal car accidents are probably the most common example of wrongful conduct.
However, wrongful death actions are commonly filed following instances of
medical malpractice, fatal workplace injuries, criminal activities and dangerous property
conditions. It is important to note that it is possible that the person
responsible for the death will face criminal charges. However, since wrongful
death is a civil action, it is separate from the criminal proceedings.
Additionally, an acquittal in a criminal case does not affect the right
or outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who is eligible to recover damages?
Not just any family member may recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Missouri law limits recovery to the spouse and children of the deceased.
However, if the spouse is unmarried and without children, the deceased’s
siblings may recover.
Under the law, several types of economic expenses may be recovered, such
as funeral, burial and medical costs. Additionally, damages for pain and
suffering may be recovered if the decedent experienced pain during the
time between the injury and his or her death. Also, eligible parties may
recover the reasonable value of the decedent’s financial support,
companionship, parental guidance and comfort. Finally, in certain cases,
a court may award punitive damages if the conduct responsible for the
death was wanton, reckless, intentional or exhibited a disregard for other
While it is true that a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring the loved one
back to life, it can help grieving family members by providing them the
financial support in their time of need. If someone’s careless act
has caused the loss of your loved one, an experienced personal injury
attorney can advise you further on your right to demand accountability
under the law.