When a person or company is negligent and caused death, a claim/lawsuit must be brought for “wrongful death.” Wrongful death is a statutory action in RSMo. 537.080. A spouse, children or parents of a deceased may make a claim. If none exist, a court can appoint a plaintiff ad litem to prosecute the claim. The claim itself rests on what claim the deceased would have had had they not died. Automobile negligence, truck crash, products liability, or medical malpractice claims can cause death. When we represent the family of a decedent, we investigate and work to prove the underlying cause. That death occurred as a result of the negligence is tragic – and changes the damages recoverable. RSMo. 537.095 prohibits damages for grief and bereavement, but damages are authorized for the pain and suffering prior to death, medical and funeral expenses, wage loss damages if the deceased supported a spouse or a child, the loss of companionship, support, guidance, and services the deceased provided his or her loved ones.
The next question is who will get the money in a wrongful death case? The answer to that is different than who is entitled to sue. The surviving spouse and children will likely recover all of the money even if there are parents of the deceased. We have litigated these issues extensively. If there are children and parents, the children will likely get the money to the exclusion of th parents, unless it is proven inequitable. Additionally, if the parties are in the mist of the divorce, but the divorce is not finalized when a party is killed it is as if the party died while married. The limitations period to file a lawsuit is three years from the death.
The death of the party responsible for the injury will not serve to extend the statute. Mark and I are experts in handling wrongful death cases and have many successes therein. If you have a Missouri or Illinois Wrongful Death case, please accept our condolences and call the St. Louis wrongful death attorneys at Burger Law to discuss your legal rights at (314) 542-2222.