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When someone dies through the negligent act of another, a wrongful death claim can result. In this type of case, the personal representative of the estate of a deceased person is authorized to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the person’s death. A wrongful death case can arise from any type of personal injury case including medical malpractice, automobile accidents, construction accidents, airplane accidents and many more.
The death of a family member is a profound and horrible event. Lives change instantly and you are left trying to cope with the physical pain and sorrow caused by a wrongful death as well as the worries over medical bills, funeral bills, and other financial obligations. Our St. Louis wrongful death lawyers understand that while money alone cannot relieve your pain and suffering or restore your loss, the law provides a remedy.
We assist our clients with basic legal issues that arise after a death and how important it is that the wrongful death action be aggressively prosecuted so that a full financial recovery can be obtained.
If you lost a loved one, please contact a St. Louis wrongful death lawyer from our firm for a free consultation.
Wrongful Death Quick Links
- What Is a Wrongful Death, and Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?
- Compensation Recoverable Through a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri
- The Statue of Limitations For Wrongful Death Claims in Missouri
- Wrongful Death Cases vs. Criminal Homicide Cases
- How an Experienced St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
- Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in St. Louis, MO
What Is a Wrongful Death, and Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?
As mentioned above, wrongful death can essentially be explained as any death resulting from an act or circumstance that, had they lived, would entitle the victim to recover damages through a personal injury claim. In other words, a wrongful death claim can be brought against anyone whose negligence or wrongdoing resulted in someone’s death.
A wrongful death claim must be filed by someone on behalf of the deceased person. Individuals entitled to file a wrongful death claim on a deceased person’s behalf in Missouri are as follows:
- Children or their descendants
- Siblings or their descendants
If none of these individuals has survived the decedent, anyone entitled to benefit from the proceeds of the wrongful death claim may request that the court appoint a “plaintiff ad litem” to bring the wrongful death claim on their behalf.
Compensation Recoverable Through a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri
Although no amount of money will ever replace your loved one, a monetary settlement can help ease the financial burden on your family. The settlement may include compensation for:
- Loss of the support and services of the deceased person
- Loss of the deceased person’s companionship, protection, instruction, and guidance
- The deceased person’s final medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The deceased person’s lost wages, benefits, and income from the date of their injury to the date of their death
- The value of the income and benefits the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to earn had they lived
Our St. Louis wrongful death lawyers understand how important it is for a wrongful death action to be tenaciously prosecuted so that the financial burden of the loss of your loved one is shifted from you and your family to those responsible for your loved one’s death.
The Statute of Limitations For Wrongful Death Claims in Missouri
The wrongful death attorneys at Miller & Hine know that when you lose someone you care about in a catastrophic accident, the furthest thing from your mind at the time is filing a lawsuit. Unfortunately, your timeframe to file a Missouri wrongful death claim is limited.
If your loved one was killed because of another person’s negligence, you must act quickly to file a claim on their behalf. In Missouri, a wrongful death lawsuit must generally be filed within three years of the date of their death.
This deadline is referred to as the statute of limitations. If a wrongful death lawsuit is not filed before this deadline, it may be barred from ever being filed.
Wrongful Death Cases vs. Criminal Homicide Cases
Success in a wrongful death case, like in other civil cases, relates solely to the amount of monetary compensation the defendant is ordered to pay to the deceased person’s family or estate. On the other hand, success in a criminal homicide case relates to the accused being found guilty of homicide and the amount of prison time, probation, fines, and other penalties they receive for the conviction.
Furthermore, in criminal cases, the state or federal government has the burden of proving that the accused is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”—the highest legal standard of proof. But, in civil cases, the plaintiff must only establish the defendant is at fault for the death by “a preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for the death.
It is possible for a person’s death to give rise to both a civil case and a wrongful death case. In other words, a criminal homicide case being prosecuted against a wrongdoer does not preclude you from pursuing a wrongful death claim against the same defendant, or vice versa.
How an Experienced St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
Finding out that a loved one was killed in an accident due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing can be overwhelming. It can be challenging to piece together whose fault it was and why it happened, especially while you are grieving the loss of a family member.
If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident in St. Louis, it is important to hire an experienced St. Louis wrongful death attorney to assist you with navigating the legal process at this extremely difficult time. Here are some reasons why:
An experienced attorney will think clearly and objectively while focusing on the law while you and your family are rightfully consumed with grief.
- Assessing the Value of Your Claim
The right attorney will know how to assess the value of your St. Louis wrongful death claim correctly. This includes accounting for often overlooked non-economic damages, such as your loved one’s final medical expenses and their pain and suffering prior to death.
- Time, Money, and Effort
Succeeding in a wrongful death case can take a great deal of time, money, and effort, and even more so when you are pursuing the case without the assistance of a qualified attorney.
- Knowledge and Understanding
An experienced St. Louis wrongful death attorney will have in-depth knowledge of Missouri wrongful death laws and understand the elements that must be demonstrated to hold the wrongdoers fully accountable for your loved one’s death.
- Skill and Expertise at Trial
Not every wrongful death case goes to trial. However, if your case must go to trial, you will need the skill and expertise of an experienced trial lawyer to advocate on your behalf and win a favorable judgment.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in St. Louis, MO
The law governing wrongful death claims in Missouri is complex. Our St. Louis wrongful death attorneys have the knowledge, experience, and expertise to build a solid case against all negligent parties.
If you have lost a loved one due to circumstances caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, please call Miller & Hine at (314) 413-2053, or visit our contact page to schedule a free case evaluation.
If you are concerned about how much it will cost to hire us to represent you and your family, don’t be. We do not charge any attorney fee unless we win your case.