Filing a wrongful death claim can be a complicated and emotionally charged process. These matters can arise when negligence or misconduct on the part of another person or entity is the cause of someone else’s death. Situations that can lead to the loss of life include car accidents, medical malpractice, and sports. Surviving family members may take legal action to hold the wrongdoer accountable, and they may do so with the help of an attorney.
What Is Considered a Wrongful Death?
In Missouri, the law defines wrongful death as the death of a person due to an act that would have allowed them to receive damages if they had survived. In other words, when someone dies due to another individual’s or entity’s negligence or intentionally wrongful conduct, surviving family members may have a right to seek compensation and justice.
The conduct leading to a wrongful death can often be charged as a crime. While the state can file criminal charges against the actor, the decedent’s loved one may initiate a civil action to hold the wrongdoer accountable.
When Can a Wrongful Death Claim Be Filed?
In various situations, someone can lose their life because of another individual’s or company’s conduct.
Circumstances that may warrant the filing of a wrongful death action include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical malpractice: Negligent care by medical professionals, such as failure to properly diagnose a condition or to adhere to acceptable standards of care, can have devastating consequences for victims and their loved ones.
- Car accidents: Car accidents can lead to a wrongful death claim if the driver exhibits reckless or careless behavior. Speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving can all contribute to fatal collisions, even in seemingly minor incidents.
- Defective products: Defective products can lead to a wrongful death claim if they are designed, manufactured, or sold in unsafe conditions. Faulty construction, design flaws, and misleading marketing can all contribute to fatal accidents.
- Unsafe premises: Property owners have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors. Failure to do so may create legal liability for any resulting injury or fatality.
- Intentional harm: Intentionally committing an act of violence such as homicide, assault, or battery could lead to a wrongful death and a lawsuit.
- Workplace accidents: Unsafe conditions, such as wet floors or broken stairs, can lead to slip and fall or other accidents, causing workers to be injured or killed.
- Sports: Sports-related activities can lead to a wrongful death claim if someone suffers blows to the head or chest, resulting in death.
In Missouri, surviving family members have only three years from the date of the death to file a claim. They may lose the right to seek compensation if they do not initiate an action within that time.
How Is Fault Proven?
Generally, fault in a wrongful death case is based on the theory of negligence. The filing party must first satisfy the duty of care element. This means they must show that the defendant was obligated to act in a certain way but failed to do so, causing harm.
From there, the plaintiff must demonstrate causation and damages. In other words, the breach of duty of care directly caused an injury that resulted in death, and tangible damages, such as medical costs, burial expenses, and lost income, can be linked to the accident.
Where Can You Get Help with a Wrongful Death Claim?
Filing a wrongful death claim can be daunting, fraught with legal complexities and emotional challenges. That is why enlisting the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer is so important. They can help you complete the required forms and build a legal strategy to support your argument and stand by you during this difficult time. With their knowledge and understanding of the law and their professional guidance, you can confidently navigate your case.
Schedule a consultation with one of our Kansas City lawyers at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. by calling us at (888) 398-2277 or contacting us online today.