Kansas City Wrongful Death Lawyer

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No sudden death ever feels right to grieving loved ones left behind, but when a family member’s death was preventable and only occurred because of someone else’s carelessness, reckless actions, or purposefully wrongful behavior, Missouri law considers it a wrongful death. If the cause of death involved a crime, the criminal justice system must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but a civil wrongful death claim proceeds independently of any criminal charges in the case and doesn’t require a crime. Instead, a wrongful death claim in Kansas City allows close family members of the loved one who passed (decedent) to recover financial compensation for the economic and non-economic consequences to the family. These consequences are the “damages” in a wrongful death case in Missouri.

Kansas City wrongful death lawyer

Why Choose Miller & Hine for Legal Counsel in Your Missouri Wrongful Death Claim?

The renowned law firm of Miller & Hine offers dedicated legal advocacy for injury victims and the family members of those who suffered wrongful death in Kansas City and the surrounding area. Our combined five decades of legal experience have given us a track record of success in recovering millions of dollars for our clients. We offer many advantages to your wrongful death case, including the following:

Our attorneys Jason Hine, Jimmy Miller, and Paul Vysotsky are renowned with strong backgrounds and positive reputations with their peers. The law firm has a history of notable wins and settlements bringing millions of dollars to injury victims and family members of those who suffered wrongful death.

Where Does Wrongful Death Compensation Come From?

It’s a common misconception that the person responsible for the death pays for damages to the family members from their personal funds. This can discourage some family members from filing a claim against an at-fault party with few or no assets. In reality, only a small percentage of wrongful death claims become personal lawsuits against a defendant to seek compensation from their assets. Most wrongful death claims seek compensation from a defendant’s insurance policy. After a car accident fatality, the wrongful death claim seeks compensation from an at-fault driver’s auto insurance. After a wrongful death in an apartment fire with a broken fire escape, the family members would seek wrongful death compensation from the property owner’s premises liability insurance.

How Can a Kansas City Wrongful Death Lawyer Help My Case?

During the intense emotions and anguish after the loss of a loved one, you should be able to focus on seeing your family through the tragedy without dealing with the legal tangles of a wrongful death claim without counsel. You need an objective, strategic party to take purposeful action and assertively advocate on your family’s behalf throughout the draining legal process so you can remain focused on your family. Your wrongful death lawyer from Miller & Hine will do the following:

We will become your loved one’s voice for justice for their family as we aggressively argue for your full compensation. While lawsuits take longer than a settlement, a jury award for damages is often greater than the amount family members would recover in a settlement.

Nearly 95% of wrongful death claims are resolved through a settlement so it’s unlikely your case will go to court; however, should litigation become necessary, we will ensure you are fully prepared and at ease.

What Are Wrongful Death Laws in Missouri?

When one individual or business’s actions cause the injury and death of another, the family members left behind have a right to seek financial compensation for their economic losses like income loss, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of benefits, as well as for their emotional anguish. Missouri Statute 537.080 states the following:

“Whenever the death of a person results from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof, the person or party who, or the corporation which, would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable in an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, which damages may be sued for … By the spouse or children or the surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children, natural or adopted, legitimate or illegitimate, or by the father or mother of the deceased, natural or adoptive…”

When considering if a loved one’s death constitutes a wrongful death case under Missouri law, the above statute explains the standard. If the circumstances of the death were such that the deceased person could have filed a personal injury claim if they’d survived the injury, then their surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim for their damages. A successful wrongful death claim also gives a lost loved one back their voice for justice and helps grieving family members feel a sense of closure so they can begin to move forward from the tragedy.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Kansas City

If you lost a loved one suddenly due to the actions or negligent inaction of another party, you may be wondering if you have a valid case to file a wrongful death claim in Missouri. Although your loved one’s circumstances may be unique, it helps to know the most common causes of wrongful death claims in Kansas City. These include the following:

When another party fails to take reasonable measures to prevent causing injuries to others, such as a driver’s failure to avoid distraction from their cell phone or an apartment-building owner’s failure to properly maintain smoke detectors, they are liable for damages for injuries or wrongful death their negligence caused someone else.

Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Case

In a civil wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove liability through a preponderance of the evidence. The evidence must show the following:

Your attorney from Miller & Hine will investigate all aspects of your loved one’s death and gather evidence of liability, then send a list of your damages in a demand package to the appropriate insurance company.

What Kind of Compensation Can My Family Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim in Kansas City?

During the grief and anguish family members suffer after a loved one’s sudden loss, family members may also face distress with the realization that they lost a family provider or the family member who provided care for children and the household. The fear of financial hardship often compounds grief in these circumstances. A successful wrongful death claim helps family members recover financial compensation for their losses as well as a sense of accountability and justice. Common compensation in Missouri wrongful death claims includes amounts for the following damages:

Monetary compensation cannot bring a loved one back, but it helps alleviate financial worries so family members can focus on saying goodbye to their loved one and moving forward from the loss.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?

Missouri limits those who can file wrongful death claims to close family members. This prevents distant relatives who don’t suffer financial losses from the death from profiting from the loss. In Missouri, only the following family members may file a wrongful death claim:

If the decedent leaves behind none of the above candidates for a wrongful death claim, a sibling, the child of a sibling, or a representative of the victim’s estate may file a claim.

How Long Do I Have to File a Kansas City Wrongful Death Claim?

Missouri residents have up to three years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Like all states, Missouri places a statute of limitations on this type of tort claim. In limited cases, some exceptions to this time limit apply. For instance, the state may “toll” or extend the time limit if the person responsible for the death isn’t identified or apprehended until some time later, or if fraud or a coverup hid the cause of the death until later. 

If you aren’t certain how Missouri’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims applies in your case, your attorney from Miller & Hine can help during your free case consultation.

Do I Have to Go to Court for a Wrongful Death Claim?

Having a skilled attorney asserting your right to compensation to the at-fault party’s insurance company—such as auto insurance in a car accident case or product liability insurance in a defective product case—makes it far more likely for your claim to end with an ample settlement from the insurance company. However, at Miller & Hine, we have a history of successful court litigation and are more than ready to file a lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations if it’s required to recover the compensation your family deserves.

What to Do After a Loved One Suffers a Wrongful Death in Kansas City

The aftermath of a loved one’s sudden tragic death is a painful and chaotic time, especially when the death was preventable if only someone else had taken reasonable measures to prevent it. However, by keeping a cool head during the trauma, a close family member like a spouse or adult child can take purposeful steps to help streamline a later claim to recover compensation and improve the chances of success in obtaining the maximum amount available. After a loved one suffers a wrongful death, take the following actions:

Always hire an experienced wrongful death attorney before speaking to insurance representatives. Insurance adjusters may reach out with a fast settlement offer in exchange for the signing away of your right to file a lawsuit. An early settlement offer is almost always far less than the claim is worth and purposely offered before the victim’s family can possibly know the full extent of the financial losses they are facing. 

Direct all communication with the insurance company to your wrongful death lawyer from Miller & Hine.

Are Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions the Same?

While similar in that both claims are made against the party at fault for a death, a survival action has distinct differences from a wrongful death claim and can be filed in place of a wrongful death or in conjunction with a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim in Kansas City serves to secure compensation for losses to the family members who were financially dependent on the decedent. A survival action focuses instead on reimbursing the decedent’s estate for losses suffered before the death but related to the initial injury that eventually led to the death. Missouri 537.020 states the following:

  “Action for personal injury or death to survive regardless of death of either party. — 1.  Causes of action for personal injuries, other than those resulting in death, whether such injuries be to the health or to the person of the injured party, shall not abate by reason of his death, nor by reason of the death of the person against whom such cause of action shall have accrued; but in case of the death of either or both such parties, such cause of action shall survive to the personal representative of such injured party, and against the person, receiver or corporation liable for such injuries and his legal representatives, and the liability and the measure of damages shall be the same as if such death or deaths had not occurred.”  

A survival action is beneficial in cases where the decedent survived the initial injury and lived for some time later while receiving medical care for their injury before they eventually succumbed. A survival action claim works like a personal injury claim the decedent could have filed themselves. The compensation in a survival action claim is awarded directly to the victim’s estate to reimburse the estate for losses such as medical expenses, and lost income. It may include compensation for the decedent’s pain and suffering they experienced and for their fear of imminent death. These are damages the decedent suffered before their death and the compensation is for the decedent rather than their family even though they’ve already passed.

After a successful survival action claim, the compensation is paid into the victim’s estate and then passed to family members either through the decedent’s estate plan or will, or through the state’s intestacy laws determining inheritance in cases where a decedent leaves no last will and testament behind.

Ask your attorney at Miller & Hine if your family will benefit from a survival action claim in addition to a wrongful death claim under the unique circumstances of your case.

Call Miller & Hine For a Consultation About Your Loved One’s Wrongful Death in Kansas City

Your family shouldn’t have to take on this legal challenge alone at the same time that you are dealing with a tragedy. Sadly, insurance companies commonly dispute this type of claim to protect their profits or offer fast settlements for far less than the claimant deserves. Contact Miller & Hine today so our Kansas City personanl injury lawyers can begin prompt action on your wrongful death claim while you focus on your loss.