Wrongful Death Attorney in St. Louis, Missouri
Losing a loved one because of someone else’s negligent, reckless, or intentional act brings on grief that will endure and leave a lasting memory going forward. There is no way to bring back a loved one who has lost their life needlessly, but it is possible to make the responsible party accountable by filing what is called a wrongful death lawsuit.
Missouri has statutes on the books that allow for such legal action, but there’s a limit on when such a lawsuit can be filed—three years after the death of your loved one (in most cases). If you don’t bring action before those three years have passed, your lawsuit likely won’t be allowed.
If you’ve lost a loved one in or around St. Louis, Missouri, due to what someone else did—or failed to do—contact The Morris Firm. Attorney Raphael Morris has been counseling and comforting those who have lost a loved one for nearly two decades. He helps families hold the responsible parties accountable through wrongful death lawsuits. The Morris Firm also serves clients throughout the counties of St. Charles and Jefferson.
Why File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
As stated above, there is no way to bring back a lost loved one, but through a wrongful death lawsuit, you can hold the responsible party accountable. In so doing, you may be able to set an example for others so they can avoid the mistakes that the responsible party made, either through negligence or by making bad decisions. You can also recover damages (legalese for compensation) for the financial losses you’ve suffered as a result of your loss.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Missouri?
Missouri law states: “Whenever the death of a person results from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof, the person or party who, or the corporation which, would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable in an action for damages….”
Note that the statute includes the words “act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance.” In most cases, this means that the responsible party, or entity if it’s a company or manufacturer of a product, did something negligently. Negligence is thus the basis for most wrongful death lawsuits, although even deliberate acts such as assault or homicide (“conduct”) can also be legally actionable.
Generally speaking, had your loved one not died and been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against whoever was responsible for his or her injuries, then you as close family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death claims can also include medical malpractice lawsuits, but such actions can be complex and challenging. You must prove that the attending physician or other medical personnel failed to follow established medical procedures and standards by misdiagnosing, mistreating, prescribing the wrong medicines, not doing the proper testing, or making surgical errors.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?
Some states require that the personal representative named in the decedent’s will must file a wrongful death action, but in Missouri, family members have the right to bring action. The spouse and children are the first in line to file a wrongful death lawsuit. They are followed by surviving grandchildren, and then by the parents of the deceased. If none of the above are alive, then siblings can bring action.
The wrongful death statute states that only “one action may be brought,” but that action can include more than one claimant, for instance, spouse and children may bring suit together. Remember, however, that the statute of limitations is three years from the date of death.
What Needs to Be Proven to Prevail in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Most lawsuits are based upon another person or party’s negligence, so in court, it must be shown that the person or entity being sued:
Owed a duty of care toward the decedent
Breached that duty of care through a negligent action or failure to act responsibly
The breach resulted in harm resulting in death
The death caused damages to the plaintiffs (those filing the lawsuit)
In a traffic accident, for instance, a driver, upon accepting a driver’s license, assumes a duty of care toward others on the road, so if a traffic accident results in someone’s death, you need to show that the at-fault driver acted negligently or recklessly.
In a medical malpractice case, the attending healthcare personnel have a professional duty of care toward their patients. In an intentional act, such as assault or homicide, there will be criminal evidence to back up your lawsuit.
In general terms, in a wrongful death lawsuit, you can recover any medical and funeral costs related to the loss of your loved one, such as treatment between the initial incident and your loved one’s death.
There can also be compensation for the loss of current and future income and financial support from the deceased loved one. Loss of consortium and companionship can also result in damages being awarded. However, damages for “grief and bereavement by reason of death” are not available.
Losing a loved one is a painful experience that can affect your entire life going forward. Though you cannot bring back your lost loved one, you can hold the responsible party accountable, and by doing so, help set an example so others won’t make the same mistake.
Wrongful Death Attorney Serving St. Louis, Missouri
If you’ve lost a loved one in or around St. Louis, Missouri, contact wrongful death attorney Raphael Morris at The Morris Firm. He will treat your case with compassion and understanding and help you hold the at-fault person or entity accountable.