Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action in Missouri?
Posted in Wrongful Death on May 23, 2022
The death of a loved one is a tragedy, especially if it is caused by the negligence or intentional behavior of another person or entity. The financial and emotional injuries suffered by loved ones who are left behind can be severe.
A wrongful death lawsuit can help reduce the financial burden and help a family heal from the loss of their loved one. However, different states have specific laws that apply to this course of legal action. If you file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri, it’s important to be aware of who can and cannot bring this action.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?
In Missouri, a wrongful death is one that is caused by any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance that, if the decedent had survived, would qualify him or her for another type of civil lawsuit.
Deaths caused by negligence or intentional acts likely qualify for wrongful death claims. Acts of medical malpractice that cause death may also be litigated as wrongful death. If you are unsure whether your family qualifies for this action, speak to a wrongful death attorney to discuss your case.
Only Certain Family Members Can File a Missouri Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In a wrongful death claim, the victim is no longer able to represent himself or herself in a lawsuit. Like many states, Missouri has very specific rules about who is and is not allowed to file a wrongful death claim.
- First, the deceased person’s surviving spouse, parents, or children may file a claim. If the deceased’s children are also deceased, his or her grandchildren may file.
- If no one in this line of succession is alive, the surviving siblings and their descendants may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
- If no person from either category is alive, the court may appoint plaintiff ad litem, a person who can file the claim on the deceased’s behalf. The plaintiff ad litem must be a person who is entitled to share in the proceeds of the wrongful death settlement or jury verdict.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you believe that your family qualifies for a wrongful death action, it is important to act quickly. Missouri imposes a statute of limitations, or filing deadline, on this type of lawsuit. In most cases, you have three years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death claim.
The court will likely dismiss your case if you file after the deadline passes, except in limited circumstances. It is important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and identify your appropriate filing deadline.
Contact a Missouri Wrongful Death Lawyer
In Missouri, wrongful death lawsuits are subject to many complex rules and requirements. You need an attorney on your side who can protect your family’s interests and guide you through the legal process.
A Kansas City wrongful death attorney can evaluate your loved one’s case and identify whether you qualify for a claim. Then, he or she will take the first steps toward gathering evidence and crafting a compelling case in your family’s favor. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to strategize your next steps.