If you have lost a loved one due to the carelessness or negligence of someone else, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. State laws govern these civil lawsuits in Missouri, and section 537.080 of the Missouri Revised Statute contains the answers to these issues.
The statute categorizes the participants and specifies who may make a claim for wrongful death. Furthermore, the Missouri wrongful death statute of limitations states that any such legal action must generally be brought within three years of the date of death.
If you are considering filing a formal claim in Missouri and have further questions about the process or want to learn about your legal rights, you can learn more about it here and by reaching out to a wrongful death lawyer with Morelli Law Firm.
What is a “Wrongful Death” in Missouri?
In Missouri, wrongful death is defined as the death of an individual caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another. This includes deaths resulting from medical malpractice, car accidents, defective products, and other forms of negligence.
In Missouri, any circumstance where the deceased could have brought a personal injury claim had he or she been alive is grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Parties Who Can File a Claim
In order to bring a wrongful death claim in Missouri, the deceased must have been a member of one of the classes identified in the statute. Some of the classes include:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s children
- The deceased’s parents
In some cases, wrongful death lawsuits may be brought by the deceased person’s brothers and sisters or by a plaintiff the court appoints if no other family members are available to support the claim. To file several lawsuits for the same death is prohibited under Missouri law.
If multiple people exist in any wrongful death class and seek to pursue a claim, they must join as one party suing for compensatory damages. When many parties are involved, there may be disputes or delays to the proceedings, so it’s critical to pay attention to the time limits and file before the Missouri wrongful death statute expires.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
When a person’s death is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another, this is considered a wrongful death. When a family member has lost their loved one due to someone else’s fault, they may be able to bring a lawsuit for damages related to the death.
However, time limits apply to taking legal action, and families must make sure they file their case within the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations, which specifies how soon after the death the case must be brought, must be followed. With very few exceptions that toll or extend the statute of limitations, the chance to pursue legal avenues or recover compensation is permanently lost if the lawsuit is not filed in time.
Recoverable Compensation in a Missouri Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When a person dies due to another’s reckless, careless, or intentionally wrongful conduct, that person’s immediate family may be able to file a successful wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. In such cases, the court orders the defendant to pay fair compensation for these damages to the deceased’s survivors or estate.
The types of potential damages in a wrongful death case and in what amounts will depend on the facts of each particular case.
In Missouri, courts consider several factors when deciding how much to award for damages. According to Missouri law, these include:
- Medical costs for the person’s treatment before death
- Disbursements made from hospitalization charges
- Loss of future earnings, loss of benefits
- Non-economic damages like loss of companionship, guidance, and protection
- Punitive damages in cases of gross negligence or intentional misconduct
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral costs
The Missouri wrongful death statute of limitations is an important factor to consider when considering this kind of legal matter. It is critical to pay attention to the time limits and file before the statute expires. A personal injury attorney can help you to estimate your damages and ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner.
The Difference Between a Homicide Case and a Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death claims are civil cases, not criminal prosecutions. As such, successful resolutions to these cases often involve monetary damages rather than jail time for the defendants.
In an effort to make up for the financial and emotional losses suffered by surviving family members, state laws provide for financial compensation for survivors’ loss of companionship or support due to a loved one’s untimely death.
The fact that a conviction for homicide may result in probation, fines, or imprisonment is one important difference between a criminal homicide prosecution and a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, it is possible for an incident to give rise to both criminal charges and a civil claim: A defendant may be held liable in a civil lawsuit while being investigated for the crimes that resulted in the unfortunate loss of a person.
Learn How A Missouri Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You
It’s important to remember that most civil claims have a three-year window in which to file their lawsuits after the death occurred. The court will probably decline to consider the matter entirely if it is not filed within that time frame. (Mo Rev Stat 537.100 (2021))
Cases like these are frequently complex, and the law is always subject to change. Consider speaking with a personal injury attorney if you’re considering bringing a wrongful death claim in Missouri. An expert attorney with Morelli Law can provide guidance that is suited to your particular circumstance.