St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorneys
When a party suffers from someone else’s actions leading to the death of his or her family member, the party may file something known as a wrongful death claim. The party is typically a surviving spouse, an adult child, or some other loved one. The plaintiff’s case is premised on the theory that his or her family member’s fatal accident occurred due to the defendant’s negligence or even an intentional act.
Due to the challenges of this incredibly difficult time, anyone coping with a wrongful death should seek the legal advice of an experienced St. Louis wrongful death attorney. So what can a wrongful death lawyer do for me?
A personal injury lawyer can establish that the necessary burden of negligence has been met. A lawyer will thus first work with the claimant, involved authorities, and the opposing party to determine the facts leading up to the decedent’s death. The lawyer will then develop a case that connects relevant facts, witnesses, and possibly experts to the elements of negligence and present the case through legal action.
Further, a wrongful death legal team will demonstrate that the claimant and claimant’s family suffered immeasurably and fight for fair compensation types and amounts. A well-versed wrongful death lawyer will account for financial losses such as funeral costs, emotional distress brought on by the decedent’s death, a loss of income due to an inability to work, and loss of companionship or consortium.
Whether the responsible party intentionally killed the victim, died at the hands of a doctor due to medical malpractice, or was involved in a car accident, a lawyer can best prepare a client for a wrongful death lawsuit. A lawyer will take one through this otherwise arduous process in a compassionate way.
What is wrongful death in St. Louis, MO?
Missouri law defines wrongful death as a death that results from any act, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance that would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof if death had not ensued.
Wrongful deaths are not merely limited to a few instances – they may occur in hospital settings, due to devices or pharmaceutical products used by consumers, by car and truck accidents, at apartment complexes, and in settings where consumers are receiving services.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
While no wrongful death case is the same as the next, there are common types of wrongful deaths. These include:
- Car accidents. Car accidents are usually brought on by speeding, reckless driving when not paying attention, distracted driving such as texting or talking on the phone, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or both.
- Motorcycle Accidents. Although helmets and protective clothing provide some protection for the biker, a high percentage of motorcycle accidents result in serious injuries, even death.
- Truck accidents. Truck drivers face challenges while driving that drivers of smaller vehicles don’t. These challenges, which include large blind spots, mechanical defects, and driving while the weather conditions are poor, increase the likelihood of a collision. The sheer size of trucks increases the likelihood of death in turn.
- Medical malpractice. Examples of medical malpractice include birth injuries caused by a surgeon cutting into a mother’s abdomen too deep during a C-section, delayed treatment, and medical device malfunctions.
- Inadequate security. When a party is responsible for providing safe and secure grounds but fails to, and a death results due to third party crime.
NST Law is well prepared to handle these and other kinds of wrongful death cases. Contact our experienced firm today to schedule a free consultation.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in St. Louis?
There are a few classes of people that can file a wrongful death suit in Missouri. First, the surviving spouse, children, lineal descendants of any deceased children, and parents may sue. Second, the siblings or their descendants may sue for damages. Lastly, the court may appoint a party to initiate the wrongful death suit. (Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.080)
What is my wrongful death accident lawsuit worth?
No particular range of financial compensation can perfectly capture what a personal injury lawsuit based on wrongful death is worth. This is because a wrongful death claim depends on a wide variety of factors, some of which are below:
- Whether the victim incurred and left behind medical bills associated with the wrongful death. This is an example of economic damages.
- If the decedent had a spouse and/or children or other surviving family members.
- How reckless or negligent the defendant was. The more careless or intentional a defendant was in the circumstances, the higher the chances an attorney can recover punitive damages for the family. For example, punitive damages may be obtained if the death occurred because of a drunk driver or truck driver not paying attention.
- The level of grief and pain left loved ones suffered due to the accident.
- The remaining life expectancy of the person who was killed.
- Whether criminal charges were filed in addition to the civil case being pursued.
The truth is that no situation or case is exactly alike, and Missouri law will treat each one individually. You should contact legal counsel today to discuss these factors and to ensure you obtain the maximum compensation available under the law.
What kind of damages can I receive for a wrongful death lawsuit in St. Louis?
Missouri imposes no cap on non-economic damages a claimant can receive in a wrongful death suit. Non-economic damages serve to compensate the claimant for the impacts he or she suffered from following the loss of a loved one that is not financial in nature. There are also economic damages, which are directly connected to the wrongful death. Descriptions of factors that play a role in determining damages include:
- Pain and suffering experienced by the decedent before his or her death. An example of this would be a decedent experiencing pain while in the hospital during the time between a truck accident and his or her passing.
- Loss of future earning capacity or lost wages.
- Economic damages to make the claimant whole for expenses incurred due to the incident, such as funeral expenses, medical costs, and property damage.
- Loss of consortium by family members left behind. This is an example of non-economic damages.
- Loss of future financial and emotional support to the family.
How are settlement or judgment proceeds distributed in a wrongful death claim?
States often vary in the ways in which settlements or judgments may distribute proceeds in a wrongful death suit. In Missouri, the surviving spouse, children, or lineal descendants of the deceased have the first opportunity to file for the proceeds. After, or if no such people exist, the decedent’s siblings or their descendants may file a claim.
How do I prove negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Missouri considers the death of another person to be negligent when a party acted or failed to act in a way towards someone to whom they owed a duty of care. In other words, the wrongful party and the decedent must have had some connection to one another that brought rise to responsibility. The plaintiff bears the responsibility of demonstrating that the alleged party is liable and that he or she proximately caused the death of the decedent.
Obtaining the assistance of a personal injury attorney will increase your chances of developing a strong case following an untimely death in your circle. Our compassionate lawyers at NST Law can help you every single step of the way. From visiting the accident site to gather important evidence to demonstrate that you suffered from emotional trauma, negotiating with insurance companies, and connecting medical records to the transaction that brought rise to your claim, you should not handle this alone. Implementing wrongful death lawsuits is never easy, but doing so is an important decision.
How can I prove that it was a wrongful death?
Proving that the death of your loved one, whether it’s your spouse, child, parent, or sibling, presents many unique challenges. One of the most prominent challenges is showing that the defendant had the requisite duty of care to the party who wrongly died. For instance, if two friends are visiting a lake, does one owe a duty to save the other one if he starts to drown? Thankfully, your personal injury lawyer specializing in wrongful death suits will be able to track down the necessary documentation to establish this duty. Perhaps it’s an agreement between an adult child and a caretaker to look after the adult child’s aging mother. In this case, the caretaker owes a duty of care to the mother.
Another challenge in proving the death was a wrongful death is connecting the line between the defendant’s duty of care and the cause of the decedent’s death. If one small factor outside of the defendant’s control caused the decedent’s death, the result of the case might be different. Similarly, as with demonstrating the presence of a duty, a lawyer can gather the applicable evidence to show that this connection exists. That could be through medical documents or witness reports, for instance.
Lastly, to prove that a death was wrongful, you must show that actual damages were suffered as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. This is the last challenge of the previous steps because the decedent passed away. Examples of proof include showing a loss of wages into the family household, funeral and medical costs, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium or a significant change in lifestyle.
Proving a death was wrongful is an arduous and sometimes lengthy process. For this reason, amongst other reasons, such as the emotional challenges of going through litigation or negotiations while grieving the loss of a family member, seeking the counsel of a law firm experienced with wrongful death suits is highly suggested. Do not hesitate to contact our helpful and compassionate legal team at NST Law today – your initial consultation comes at no cost to you. Further, arrangements can be made that don’t require upfront costs whereby the firm takes a portion of the proceeds you win.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri?
Every state imposes what is referred to as a statute of limitations in a civil action. This statute places a time limit on when someone may file a personal injury claim with their local court. Missouri statutes require that a wrongful death statute be brought within three years from the incident. If the occurrence took place due to medical malpractice, the wrongful death statute of limitations, rather than the two-year limitation imposed on medical malpractice, applies.
Don’t let the time window push off a civil lawsuit. Contact our legal team at NST Law for a free case evaluation. Taking this important step can put your mind at ease and remove the distress of pursuing a wrongful death claim.
How can the St. Louis wrongful death attorneys at NST help me?
Our lawyers at NST Law can provide a wide variety of services for you in your wrongful death case. This includes developing your legal case by gathering the proper evidence, interviewing all involved parties, negotiating and working with opposing counsel and insurance providers, all the way through settlement or trial. Do not hesitate to contact our team today for dedicated and compassionate legal representation.