Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Missouri
In Missouri the family of a individual who dies in accident by the negligence of another may bring what is called a wrongful death law suit. Before the passage of the Missouri Wrongful Death Statute a family could not bring a law suit for the loss of a loved one or family provider. The courts had traditionally held the law suit died along with individual. The statute granting the right of recovery for wrongful death allows for classes of plaintiff to bring the law suit for death of a loved one. The first class of plaintiffs allowed to bring the lawsuit are the spouse, children and the parents of the deceased. If none of these plaintiffs exists then the brother of sister of the deceased may bring the law suit.
The damages the family may be entitled to recover are prescribed by statute. The wife, husband and children may recover the funeral expense and the monetary loss suffered by the loss of the parent or spouse. Typically these damage will include the loss of income of the spouse or parent. An economist must be used by your attorney to calculate the lost wages of the deceased and present a net present value calculation to establish damages. Frequently, the defense hires a conservative economist to calculate a low value for the lost wages, and your lawyer must combat this with an economist of your own. If the family has lost the homemaker, child or a non wage earner, then the statutes dictates that the states average weekly wage must be used for this calculation. The average weekly wage is produced by the Missouri Department of Labor and placed in a chart for the Division of Worker's Compensation.
The recovery may also include the amount of damages suffered by the deceased person before their death and after the act of negligence. These damages include the medial bills incurred by the decedent and their suffering through the course of treatment before death. Frequently, such damages become the largest portion of the case in a long suffering burn case or other catastrophic injury case that cause a lengthy hospitalization before death.
Lastly, the Missouri statues allow for the recovery of aggravating circumstances damages. While the statute left aggravation circumstances damages undefined, the Missouri Courts have found that aggravating circumstances equate to punitive damages. To establish such damages the plaintiff must prove that that the defendant exhibited a complete indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others. While the damages recoverable in wrongful death lawsuit will never replace the loss of a loved one, they can help with family finances and ensure that no financial hardship exist because medical bills and funeral expenses that are responsibility of a negligent party.