Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?


When a beloved family member dies unexpectedly, it always feels like a wrongful loss to those left behind; however, a legally wrongful death in Missouri is one that was preventable if only another party had taken reasonable measures to avoid causing harm. For instance, common causes of wrongful death include car accidents, workplace injuries, defective products, or any case in which the decedent could have filed a personal injury claim on their own behalf had they not died from their injury.

Who can file a wrongful death claim in missouri?

A successful St. Louis personal injury claim recovers compensation for damages experienced by close family members—particularly those who suffer economic losses from the injury—but not everyone can file a wrongful death claim in Missouri.

Who Can File for Wrongful Death in Missouri?

Like all states, Missouri limits those who can file a wrongful death claim. These limits serve to prevent distant relatives who don’t suffer financial damages from the death from exploiting the death for financial gain. Some states only allow a family representative to file the claim—typically, the executor named in a decedent’s will or estate plan, or a representative named by the court. In Missouri; however, specific close family members may file wrongful death claims against a party at fault for a fatal accident or intentional wrongdoing resulting in death. In Missouri, the following family members may file wrongful death claims:

  • A surviving spouse: this is the most common family member to file a wrongful death claim in Missouri. If there is no surviving spouse, then
  • an adult child, or
  • the parent of a deceased child or adult

In less common circumstances, siblings or grandparents may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, particularly if they can prove they’ve suffered financial losses due to the death. If none of the above close family members are available to file a wrongful death claim, the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate may file a claim on behalf of the estate, after which the compensation awarded is distributed through the decedent’s estate plan.

What Damages Are Available in a Missouri Wrongful Death Claim?

A sudden death causes financial losses to the close family members as well as grief and anguish. When another person or business causes the death, they are liable for the damages to the surviving family members—particularly those who depended on the income or household services of the deceased individual. A successful Missouri wrongful death claim brings financial compensation such as the following to close surviving family members:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost income for the remainder of working years the decedent had left to them had they not died from the injury
  • Lost benefits like health insurance and retirement contributions
  • Loss of household services like childcare, home maintenance, and yard work
  • Emotional anguish and grief

When a close family member suffers fatal injuries due to another party’s negligence or recklessness, the negligent party is liable for the above damages. Compensation for these damages typically comes from an insurance policy, such as car insurance after a car accident death or malpractice insurance after a medical malpractice death. Contact our St. Louis wrongful death lawyer for assistance with your claim.