All too often, people in Kansas City, and throughout Missouri, are killed by the negligent or intentional actions of others. When this happens, it can be devastating for the family members who are left behind. On top of grieving and coming to terms with their loss, they must also make funeral arrangements, handle the estate and deal with the financial implications. In order to hold the person, or group, responsible for causing a wrongful death liable, the family may pursue legal action. Before taking this step, it behooves people to understand what damages are allowed in these types of cases.
In general, Section 537.090 of the Missouri Revised Statutes governs the damages that may be awarded in Missouri wrongful death cases. The types of losses for which people may seek compensation under the law can generally be separated into three categories – pecuniary losses, non-pecuniary losses, and survival damages. Pecuniary losses are quantifiable monetary losses resulting from wrongful deaths. This includes funerary costs, as well as lost future income. Non-pecuniary losses, on the other hand, are those that generally are not measurable in dollars and cents. Often, the loss of companionship, support, and guidance provided by the deceased are considered non-pecuniary, or non-economic, losses. The damages that a wrongful death victim suffers between when they are injured and when they pass away are generally considered survival damages. Most commonly, this includes compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering.
Under most circumstances, Missouri state law does not cap the number of damages that may be sought or awarded in wrongful death claims. This means that there is no limit on the potential recovery as long as there is evidence to support the award. The exception to this is medical malpractice claims resulting in death. In those cases, there are limitations as to the amount of non-economic damages that may be awarded.
This post has provided a general overview of the damages allowed in Missouri wrongful death cases. It is important for people to remember, however, that the circumstances and awards in each case are unique. Therefore, the information in this post should be taken as general information only, and not be considered professional legal advice.