Wrongful Death Lawyers

Wrongful Death Lawyers 
in Liberty, Missouri

Wrongful Death Lawyes in Liberty Missouri

Grieving over the loss of a loved one is an emotional challenge, and the burden can be heavier when the cause of death was another person’s reckless of negligent conduct. Surviving family members deserve compassion and justice, and the support of an experienced, caring wrongful death attorney in Liberty, Missouri. The Noland Law Firm has considerable experience fighting for the rights of families who have lost loved ones due to negligence, malice or product liability in Liberty, the Kansas City metropolitan area and northwest Missouri.

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A lady holding a red rose near a casket. A wrongful death attorney can help. Noland Law Firm. Liberty, Missouri.

What is a wrongful death claim in Missouri?

In Missouri, a “wrongful death” is legally defined as a death resulting from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance that, if not fatal, would have entitled the person to damages. Essentially, it involves filing a claim against an individual or entity whose negligent or intentional actions lead to someone’s death. Wrongful death claims in Missouri cover scenarios where the deceased, if alive, could have pursued a personal injury lawsuit. However, in these cases, the survivors must step in to seek compensation on behalf of the deceased.

Similar to general personal injury claims, wrongful death claims can arise from various events, including incidents rooted in negligence (such as car accidents), cases of medical malpractice, or intentional acts like crimes. Understanding the broad range of circumstances that can lead to a wrongful death claim is crucial for those seeking legal recourse in such unfortunate situations.

When can you file a wrongful death claim in Missouri?

In Missouri, specific guidelines dictate who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state’s civil courts. The primary individuals authorized to bring such a claim include the surviving spouse, parents, children, or, in the absence of surviving children, the children’s descendants of the deceased person. If there are no surviving individuals in this first category, a surviving sibling or their descendants may initiate the wrongful death lawsuit. 

In the event that no one from either category survives, the court has the authority to appoint a “plaintiff ad litem” to handle the claim. It’s important to note that the request for a plaintiff ad litem must come from a person deemed “entitled to share in the proceeds” of a successful wrongful death claim (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.080 (2021)). Understanding these rules is crucial for those considering filing a wrongful death claim in Missouri.

What damages can you claim in a wrongful death case in Missouri?

In a successful Missouri wrongful death lawsuit, the court mandates the defendant to compensate the deceased person’s survivors or estate for claimed losses, commonly referred to as “damages.” The potential damages in a wrongful death case are contingent on the specific circumstances of each case. According to Missouri’s wrongful death law, the court considers various factors in determining the damages to be awarded. These factors include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills related to the final injury or illness of the deceased
  • The estimated value of lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned if alive (For a deceased child, “lost wages” value is based on the earnings of the child’s parent or parents)
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased between the injury and death
  • The reasonable value of services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support the deceased would have provided to surviving family members.

Additionally, damages may encompass the value of caregiving services the deceased rendered. If the deceased, not employed full-time, provided care for at least one child, senior, or disabled person for at least 50 percent of the time, Missouri law presumes the value of the care provided to be worth 110 percent of the state’s average weekly wage at the time of death (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.090 (2021)).

It’s important to note that there isn’t a universal cap on damages in a Missouri wrongful death lawsuit. However, if the case arises from a healthcare provider’s error, the state’s limit on medical malpractice damages would be applicable.

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What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death in Missouri?

In Missouri, wrongful death lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations, a legal timeframe within which such claims must be filed. The applicable statute sets a filing deadline of three years from the date of the death for most wrongful death claims. If the lawsuit is not initiated within this period, the court is likely to reject it outright (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.100 (2021)).

Given the complexity of wrongful death cases and the potential for changes in the law, seeking the guidance of a personal injury attorney is advisable if you’re contemplating filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri. An experienced attorney can provide tailored advice based on the specifics of your situation.

How are wrongful death proceeds distributed in Missouri?

In Missouri wrongful death claims, the compensation proceeds are allocated to the group that initiated the claim. Even if certain individuals within the group did not actively partake in the lawsuit, an agreement is typically reached among the group members on how to distribute the proceeds. In cases where a consensus cannot be reached, the court intervenes and decides, considering evidence presented by the concerned parties.

Heirs who did not actively engage in the wrongful death claim may still be eligible for compensation based on their individual losses. Alternatively, an heir has the option to waive their share of the recovery.

Typically, a court hearing is convened to determine the distribution of the wrongful death claim proceeds. The assumption is that a surviving spouse or child has experienced a more substantial loss compared to a distant relative, resulting in a higher compensation allocation for the former.

What is the difference between wrongful death and survival action in Missouri?

The primary distinction between survival action and wrongful death in Missouri lies in who is eligible to file each claim. For a survival action, the claim must be initiated by a representative of the deceased person’s estate. In a wrongful death claim, the right to file rests with the deceased person’s spouse, parents, or children.

The nature of the damages that can be recovered also varies. Survival action addresses losses that the deceased could have pursued in a lawsuit if they had survived, while wrongful death compensates the family for direct monetary losses. Both claims can be filed together, separately, or not at all, but combining them in a lawsuit is recommended to ensure the full extent of damages is awarded.

Contact our Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

If you or a loved one is suffering the loss of a loved one due to a wrongful death in Liberty, Gladstone, Independence, Blue Springs, Excelsior Springs, Kearney, Smithville, Saint Joseph, North Kansas City, and throughout the greater Kansas City area, it is worth hiring a wrongful death lawyer from Noland Law Firm to help settle your case with knowledge and compassion. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, or please call us at (816) 781-5055 to discuss your personal injury case.

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