Unfortunately, the recklessness, intentional actions or negligence of others often results in death for people throughout Missouri. Whether due to an auto accident, assault, medical mistake or any other number of situations, such deaths can have a devastating impact on the family members who are left behind. Not only must they deal with their grief and come to terms with their losses, many also face financial challenges. At Mayer & Rosenberg, P.C., we often consult with people who have experienced situations such as this and are thinking of filing wrongful death claims. In this post, we will discuss the considerations for wrongful death lawsuits in Missouri.
When a wrongful death occurs, the spouse or children of the decedent may take legal action against the liable party, under Section 537.080 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. Additionally, the lineal descendants of any children who have previously passed away may also be entitled to file wrongful death claims. This includes legitimate and illegitimate natural children, as well as those who have been legally adopted. Sometimes, the decedent may not have a spouse, children or other lineal descendants to file a claim. In these cases, the decedent’s siblings, or their descendants, may be permitted to take legal action. Generally, the law only allows for one wrongful death claim to be filed against a liable party for a single person’s death.
As is often the case with legal actions, there are limitations on the time frame for filing wrongful death claims in the state of Missouri. Under Section 537.100 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, people must generally file a wrongful death claim within three years of the death. In general, the exception to this statute of limitations is if the liable party leaves the state, so that legal action cannot be taken against him or her.
Generally, the purpose of damage awards in wrongful death cases is not to put a price on the life of the deceased. Instead, these awards are meant to make those who have suffered losses as a result of the death whole, including the decedents themselves. As such, people may seek damages for funerary costs and lost wages, among other losses. Additionally, they may seek compensation for the loss of companionship, guidance, counsel and support of the person who was killed.
For more information about the available options following a tragic loss, please visit our wrongful death page.