Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death occurs when a life is taken because of negligence or willful act by another person. These lawsuits differ from murder cases because they are filed in civil court, usually for financial compensation. A person may be acquitted of a murder or manslaughter charge in criminal court, but be found guilty in a wrongful death suit. The legal actions are completely separate. If you have lost a loved one as a result of the negligence actions of someone else, contact our experienced and successful Kansas City wrongful death attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet.
The deceased’s surviving family members or other beneficiaries are the persons who file wrongful death suits. The statutes governing wrongful death cases were originally created to provide financial assistance to surviving widows and orphans. Now, they may cover any direct beneficiary who suffers the loss of the decedent, but are usually restricted to direct family members, such as spouses and children.
Proving a Wrongful Death
To bring a wrongful death suit to court, the following components must be established:
- The death of a person
- The cause of death being directly tied to another person’s negligence or harmful intent
- The monetary suffering of the decedent’s family members caused by the death
- A personal representative appointed for the decedent’s estate
A family may file a suit against any number of individuals, including, but not limited to, faulty equipment manufacturers, bartenders and owners, transportation representatives, building contractors, physicians, and pilots and drivers. The number of reasons a person may file for wrongful death are various, and navigating the complex statutes surrounding wrongful death suits requires the expertise of a skilled attorney. Laws on wrongful death vary state by state, and the experience of an attorney who understands your state laws is vital.
Common Wrongful Death Causes
- Car Accidents
- Product Liability
- Train Accidents
- Boat Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Premises Liability
- Medical Malpractice
Compensation for Wrongful Death
When a family member dies, the process of settling his or her affairs can be time consuming and emotional. Even under normal circumstances, death is tragic and difficult to process. When a wrongful death suit is filed, however, surviving family members may be facing a significant loss of income for funeral expenses and lingering medical expenses. Children may suffer the emotional loss of a parent that will not be able to pass on his/her skills and knowledge.
In a wrongful death suit, the circumstances surrounding the decedent and survivors are carefully considered. The purpose of the suit is to provide accurate and sufficient recompense for anything the decedent would have provided in life. Age, character, earning potential, health and other factors help to determine financial awards.
A few of the common financial damages that are awarded include coverage for income loss, funeral expenses, medical expenses, and loss of parental guidance. Survivors will also accrue interest from the time of death until a settlement is reached. In cases in which the cause of death has been proven to be the willful or malicious act of another, punitive damages may be awarded. This monetary compensation is purely punishment for the defendant, and laws on punitive damages vary by state. In Missouri, the cap on punitive damages is $500,000 or five times the total amount of other damages awarded.
When someone wrongfully dies from another person’s negligence or intentional act, the surviving family members may seek the help of the law. A death in the family can take an emotional and a financial toll on the survivors. Family members often want to understand the details of such a tragic event. A personal injury lawsuit can not only help family members find closure, it can help protect against future accidents, ensuring no one else will suffer the same loss.
A wrongful death lawsuit can provide survivors with a sense of closure and peace of mind. It can also provide relief from the financial strain of medical costs and the lost future income of the deceased. If a loved one has suffered from another person’s negligence or intentional act, you may be able to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. A lawsuit can repair the loss, but it can help struggling families during this stressful time.
Pecuniary damages are similar to those the court would have awarded the deceased had he or she lived to file a personal injury claim. These damages are the economic losses the victims and their family incurred from the time of the accident to the time of death. For example, if someone had a car accident and required hospitalization for a week before passing away from his or her injuries, pecuniary damages would pay for the medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs.
Lost wages may include the value of wages the deceased likely would have earned if he or she had not died. If the deceased person is a child, the courts value “lost wage” damages by averaging the earnings of the child’s parents. Pecuniary damages may reimburse the survivors for the value of household services the deceased ordinarily performed. The family may also recover the cost to repair or replace property damaged from the accident – such as totaled vehicle in a car accident.
Missouri law does not cap pecuniary damages that are economic losses, but it does limit non-economic losses. The current cap for non-economic damages in a wrongful death cases in Missouri is $350,000. One cannot readily value non-pecuniary damages. The amount depends greatly on the circumstances of the accident and the state of the family the deceased person left behind. These damages are non-tangible and may include:
• Bereavement of the loss, including mental anguish and pain and suffering
• Loss of care, comfort, society, and protection
• Loss of counsel, such as marital care, advice, and attention
• Loss of parental advice, education, guidance, and care
• Loss of filial affection and care
• Loss of consortium
“Loss of consortium” describes the losses a survivor suffers after the death of a spouse or immediate family member. These losses can include sexual relationships, love, and companionship.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The suffering of a victim’s family after a fatality can be devastating, and sometimes grief can prevent action against someone whose negligence or disregard for safety caused a death. In this situation, it can be best to contact an experienced attorney. He or she can help guide the family through the legal complexities after the untimely loss of a loved one and protect the family against further pain by serving as a mediator.
In Missouri, the law does not permit just anyone who knew the deceased to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Surviving spouses, children, and grandchildren can file a lawsuit. So too can the parents of the deceased (e.g., in cases involving the death of a child). Siblings can file a lawsuit only if the deceased has no surviving parents, spouse, children, or grandchildren.
Finding an Attorney
If your loved one has died at the hands of another, whether through willful or negligent acts, contact the attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet in Kansas City, Missouri. You will need the experience of a qualified attorney to help you gain your rightful compensation after suffering a loss. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may be eligible to receive compensation to make the day to day expenses an easier burden to bear. Contact us today for a consultation. Our focus is always individualized and we pride ourselves on forming relationships with our clients so you don’t have to go through a wrongful death suit alone.