Losing a loved one under any circumstance is an incredibly difficult experience. An avoidable death caused by another party’s negligence or wrongdoing is even harder to accept. No matter what kind of accident or intentional act led to the wrongful death of your loved one, you have the right to seek justice and compensation for your losses.
At SWMW Law, we are committed to helping your family take legal action against the party or parties responsible for the loss of your loved one – because accountability matters. Our compassionate St. Louis wrongful death lawyers have substantial experience litigating these cases in Missouri courtrooms, and with over $750 million recovered over the course of our combined careers, our case results speak for themselves. When you entrust our team with your case, your family is in good hands: We will serve as your fierce, dedicated advocates from beginning to end and give you the personal attention you deserve. The story of your loved one matters to us, and we will aggressively fight on their and your family’s behalf to get the best possible result – because people matter.
You and your family will never pay anything out of pocket and will owe no fees unless we obtain a favorable settlement or verdict. Contact us online or call (855) 744-1922 to schedule a free initial consultation today.
What Is Considered Wrongful Death in Missouri?
In Missouri, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by the negligent or intentional act of another person, entity, or organization. It is a type of legal claim that holds the party responsible for a death accountable for their actions. Wrongful death cases are civil lawsuits in which qualifying family members of the deceased can seek financial compensation for various losses, from quantifiable expenses to intangible consequences.
Wrongful death cases tend to fall into one of three categories:
- Negligent-based acts. Someone is “negligent” when they owe a duty of care to another person and violate that duty of care, resulting in injury or death. Examples of negligent-based acts that can cause wrongful death include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and slip and fall accidents.
- Medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to provide an acceptable standard of care, resulting in serious injury or death to the patient. Examples of medical malpractice that can lead to wrongful death include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, prescription errors, and failure to diagnose and treat a condition in a timely manner.
- Intentional acts. This includes crimes, like homicide. A civil wrongful death lawsuit can be pursued regardless of whether criminal charges are filed or whether a conviction is secured. In fact, securing a favorable result in a civil case can be easier than obtaining a conviction in a criminal proceeding due to the lower burden of proof.
Put another way, if the victim had survived and been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party, you may have a wrongful death case. If you are unsure of your rights or how to proceed, we encourage you to get in touch with our St. Louis wrongful death attorneys. We can evaluate your situation and walk you through your legal options.
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Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim If My Loved One Died at Work?
Many professions, from construction to fire come with certain unavoidable risks, especially when workers’ jobs involve dangerous machinery, hazardous materials, or great heights. Employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe working environment and follow proper safety protocols to minimize the risk of workplace accidents, but tragic deaths can and do happen. Should the unthinkable occur and your loved one dies in a workplace accident or as the result of toxic exposure, you may be wondering if you can pursue a wrongful death claim against their employer, especially if there is considerable evidence that they are to blame.
If your loved one perished due to the consequences of asbestos exposure, we can help you take the appropriate legal action against their employer. We handle cases involving asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma nationwide.
For cases involving accidents – anything from electrocution to falls to machinery incidents – you likely will be unable to file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. Instead, you are likely entitled to death benefits through your loved one’s employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. This comes with a key advantage: You do not need to prove negligence to get workers’ compensation death benefits. However, if a third party (anyone other than your loved one’s employer) was at fault for the work-related death, you can typically file a wrongful death lawsuit against them.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?
Missouri enforces specific rules that govern who has the right to bring a wrongful death claim. Not just anyone can take this form of legal action, no matter how much evidence they may have.
The wrongful death victim’s surviving spouse, children, parents, and their descendants have the first right to file a lawsuit. For cases involving a married adult, the surviving spouse and/or their children will usually pursue a claim. For instances involving the death of a minor or an unmarried adult, the parents of the deceased will typically file a lawsuit.
If there is no surviving spouse, parent, or children, the wrongful death victim’s siblings (and their descendants) get the right to bring a claim. If there are no siblings, only a “plaintiff ad litem” appointed by the court can file a lawsuit. Only a person who has some right to the wrongful death lawsuit’s potential damages can request a plaintiff ad litem. In many instances, the personal representative of the deceased (as appointed by the court or named in the will) fulfills this duty.
Determining who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit can be complicated and is not always clear. Our St. Louis wrongful death lawyers are happy to answer your questions and ascertain whether you or another loved one has standing.
While no amount of money can replace your loved one, it is important to hold responsible parties accountable and secure the compensation your family needs to ease the financial burden incurred by their loss. To do so, you must start the legal process before the statute of limitations expires. In Missouri, you have 3 years from the date your loved one passed away to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Note that the time limit is tied to the day your loved one died, not the date of the underlying accident or exposure. You will lose your right to compensation if you miss this deadline, so do not wait to reach out.
Our trial-tested team at SWMW Law will aggressively fight to get your family compensation for all losses, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The deceased’s final medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned had they lived
- Lost services the deceased would have offered (including consortium and companionship provided to surviving family members)
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased prior to death
You do not have to go through this unimaginably difficult time alone. Call (855) 744-1922 or contact us online to learn more about what our St. Louis wrongful death attorneys can do for you and your family.
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Because Justice Matters.
Whether you have questions or you’re ready to get started, our legal team is ready to help. Complete our form below or call us at (855) 744-1922.