We understand the pain and heartache of losing a loved one through someone else’s negligence. We want to help you through this difficult time. Contact Martin & Wallentine for a free consultation.
A loved one's death is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences any person can go through, and it can be even worse when the negligence of another party causes the death. This type of tragedy is defined by Missouri law as a wrongful death, and it can happen in various situations, including car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and more.
The aftermath of a wrongful death accident can be a trying time for surviving family members. The emotional impact of such an accident may leave family members struggling to cope with their loss.
The loss of a loved one due to someone else's negligence, in addition to being difficult emotionally, can also significantly impact a family's finances. The deceased's medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost income can place a major strain on the family's finances. Additionally, the family may have to shoulder ongoing costs, such as mortgage payments and other bills, without the deceased's income. While no money can bring your loved one back, seeking compensation can help alleviate some of the financial stress you may be experiencing.
Compassionate and Skilled Wrongful Death Attorneys
The Martin & Wallentine team of Missouri wrongful death lawyers understands nothing is more painful than losing a loved one. When that loss results from someone else's negligence, dealing with the emotional and financial fallout can be overwhelming. That's why we're here to help you navigate the legal implications of wrongful death accidents. Our compassionate wrongful death lawyers will strive to ensure you receive the justice and compensation you deserve, so you can focus on healing and rebuilding your life. If you're struggling after losing a loved one, don't hesitate to contact us at 913-754-9700.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Accidents in Missouri
Losing a loved one due to someone else's negligence is a tragedy that no family should endure. Unfortunately, wrongful death accidents happen all too often in Missouri, many of which are preventable. Here are some of the most common causes of wrongful death accidents in Missouri:
Car Accidents: According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were 1,028 deaths from fatal crashes in Missouri in 2021. Many of these crashes were caused by distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding. When drivers fail to obey traffic laws, they put themselves and others at risk of injury and death.
Medical Malpractice: Healthcare professionals have a duty to provide their patients with a certain standard of care. When they fail to meet this standard, it can result in serious injury or death. For example, a surgeon nicks an artery and fails to recognize and address it, causing the patient to ultimately pass away. The patient’s surviving family members may be able to file a lawsuit against the surgeon and hospital for compensation.
Workplace Accidents: Workplace accidents can be caused by multiple factors, including defective equipment, inadequate training, and unsafe working conditions. According to Missouri workplace data, there were 108 fatal workplace injuries in 2022, and proper safety measures and training could have prevented many of these deaths.
Slip and Fall Accidents: Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, from grocery stores to workplaces. Wet floors, uneven pavement, and other hazards can cause these accidents. According to the National Safety Council, slip and fall accidents are the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in 2020.
Nursing Home Negligence: When nursing homes fail to provide adequate care for their residents, it can result in serious injury or death. Nursing home negligence can include:
- Neglecting to provide medication
- Failing to prevent falls
- Not addressing medical issues in a timely manner
Defective Products: Defective products can cause serious injuries or death. Examples of defective products include faulty machinery, defective vehicles, and unsafe medical devices. In Missouri, manufacturers and sellers can be held liable for injuries or fatalities caused by their products under product liability laws.
Pedestrian Accidents: Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to injury or death in vehicle accidents. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2022, there were 53 pedestrian fatalities in Missouri. Distracted or impaired drivers, poor lighting, and inadequate crosswalks or signage can cause pedestrian accidents.
Damages Recovered in Missouri Wrongful Death Accidents
In Missouri, families of wrongful death victims may be able to recover compensation for their loss. The various kinds of compensation may differ from case to case, as it will depend on the unique circumstances of what happened to your loved one. Here are the kinds generally available:
Economic damages refer to the financial losses a family may have suffered due to the wrongful death of their loved one. These damages are calculated based on the victim's income, benefits, and other financial contributions they would have made to their family had they not passed away. Economic damages in Missouri may include:
- Medical Expenses: If the victim received medical treatment before they passed away, the family may be able to recover those expenses.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: The family can recover the funeral and burial expenses, often up to thousands of dollars.
- Lost Income: The family can seek compensation for the victim's lost income, including their future earning capacity, which can be calculated based on age, occupation, and other factors.
- Loss of Benefits: The family may also be able to recover the value of any benefits the victim provides, such as health insurance or retirement benefits.
Non-economic damages refer to the intangible losses a family member may have suffered due to the wrongful death of their loved one. These damages are not easily quantifiable and may vary from case to case. Non-economic damages in Missouri may include:
- Pain and Suffering: The family may be able to recover damages for the pain and suffering their loved one experienced before passing away.
- Loss of Companionship: The family can seek compensation for the loss of love, affection, and companionship they experienced due to the victim's death.
- Emotional Distress: The family may be able to recover damages for the emotional distress they experienced due to the wrongful death of their loved one.
Punitive damages punish the responsible party for their actions. The court may award punitive damages in Missouri if the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious or reckless.
Wrongful Death Accidents in Missouri and Insurance
The loss of a loved one in a wrongful death accident is a traumatic event that can leave you feeling bewildered and unsure of what to do next. Though nothing can bring back your loved one, you may be eligible for compensation.
However, dealing with insurance companies can be a complicated and frustrating process. If your loved one has died in a wrongful death accident, various types of insurance policies may provide coverage, including:
- Auto Insurance: If the wrongful death occurred in a car accident, the at-fault driver's auto insurance policy may provide coverage. Missouri law requires drivers to carry liability insurance with a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury.
- Homeowners Insurance: If the wrongful death accident occurred on someone's property, the property owner's homeowners insurance policy may provide coverage. Homeowners insurance typically covers liability claims up to a certain amount, but it's important to note these policies often exclude intentional acts.
- Business Insurance: If the wrongful death accident occurred on business premises or due to business activities, the business's liability insurance may provide coverage.
How to Deal with Insurance Companies After a Missouri Wrongful Death Accident
- Contact an Attorney: An experienced Missouri wrongful death attorney can help you deal with insurance companies and protect your legal rights. They can handle communication with insurance companies and negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation.
- Be Careful What You Say: Insurance companies will look for ways to minimize or deny your claim, and anything you say can be used against you. For example, "I'm not sure if my loved one's death was caused by the accident or something else." Avoid giving recorded statements or admitting fault on behalf of your loved one until you have spoken with an attorney.
- Document Everything: Keep a record of all communication with insurance companies, including emails, letters, and phone calls. Document any expenses related to the accident, such as medical bills and funeral costs.
How Insurance Companies May Try to Reduce the Amount of Compensation
- Lowball Settlement Offers: Insurance companies may offer you a much lower settlement than what you are entitled to in the hopes that you will accept it.
- Delaying Tactics: Insurance companies may drag out the claims process to pressure you into accepting a lower settlement.
- Blaming the Victim: Insurance companies may shift the blame onto the victim to reduce their liability.
Steps in Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri
When a loved one dies due to the negligence of another, it can be challenging to know where to turn for help. In Missouri, a wrongful death claim can provide financial compensation and closure for eligible family members, such as spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. But filing a claim requires a thorough understanding of the legal system, so hiring a knowledgeable and experienced wrongful death attorney who can guide you through the process is crucial.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Investigation: Your lawyer will gather evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, police reports, and witness statements.
- Filing a claim: Your lawyer will file a claim on your behalf with the court, outlining the details of the case and the damages you seek.
- Discovery: The defendant's lawyer will be able to review your evidence and ask questions during the discovery process.
- Negotiation: Your lawyer will try to negotiate a settlement with the defendant's insurance company or legal team.
- Trial: Your case will go to trial if the parties cannot achieve a mutually acceptable settlement. A judge or jury will decide on the appropriate damages to award you.
Common Challenges in the Missouri Wrongful Death Claims Process
The road to seeking justice and financial compensation through a wrongful death claim can be a complex one. Here are some common challenges you may face:
- The Burden of Proof: You must prove that the defendant's negligence caused your loved one's death, which can be difficult without the proper evidence.
- Insurance Companies: Insurance companies may try to minimize the compensation they pay out, which can delay the settlement process.
- Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations: In Missouri, you have only three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim, so it's important to act quickly.
- Emotions: Dealing with the loss of a loved one is emotional, which can make it challenging to navigate the legal system.
Frequently Asked Questions About Missouri Wrongful Death Accidents
You may be overwhelmed with questions if you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Missouri wrongful death claims.
What is the difference between a wrongful death claim and a criminal case?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit filed by the victim's family or representative, and it seeks compensation for the losses the family has suffered due to the victim's death. On the other hand, a criminal case is filed by the state to punish the person responsible for the victim's death. Criminal cases can result in fines, imprisonment, or other penalties.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Accident Lawsuit in Missouri?
According to the Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 537.080, a wrongful death claim can be filed in Missouri. Missouri law allows specific family members to file a wrongful death claim, including the surviving spouse, children, and parents. If the deceased has no surviving spouse, children, or parents, their siblings can file the claim.
Can I file a wrongful death claim in Missouri if the fatal accident happened in another state?
If the accident occurred in another state, you may still be able to file a wrongful death claim in Missouri. However, the laws of the state where the accident occurred will apply. You will need to consult with a wrongful death attorney familiar with the laws in Missouri and the state where the accident occurred.
How Long Does a Missouri Wrongful Death Claim Take to Settle?
The length of time it takes to settle a Missouri wrongful death claim depends on several factors, such as the complexity of the case, the amount of damages being sought, and the willingness of the defendant's insurance company to settle. In some Missouri wrongful death cases, a settlement can be reached within a few months.
What if the deceased was partially at fault for the accident?
Missouri is a comparative fault state, which means that the damages awarded to the victim's family may be reduced based on the victim's degree of fault. For example, if the victim is 20 percent at fault for the accident, the damages awarded would be reduced by 20 percent. However, the family cannot recover damages if the victim is more than 50 percent at fault.
What if a defective product caused the wrongful death?
If a defective product caused the victim's death, the victim's family may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the product. This type of claim is known as a product liability claim. Defective products can include anything from defective car parts to faulty medical devices.
How much does it cost to hire a Missouri wrongful death attorney?
Most wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means you won't have to worry about paying any upfront legal fees. Instead, your attorney will only be paid if they successfully win your case, and their fee will be a percentage of the amount awarded. The fee is usually a percentage of the amount awarded in the case, typically between 33 percent and 40 percent. This payment arrangement allows families to pursue justice for their loved one's death without adding to their financial burden.
Finding the Right Missouri Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one due to someone else's negligence is a difficult experience. Pursuing a wrongful death claim adds another layer of complexity to an already difficult situation. Hiring an experienced Missouri wrongful death lawyer can help ease this burden and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
With extensive legal knowledge and experience, our wrongful death lawyer can navigate the complexities of your case and help you understand Missouri's specific laws regarding wrongful death claims. They can also assess the value of your case and negotiate with insurance companies to get you a fair settlement.
When searching for an experienced wrongful death lawyer, seek specific qualities to ensure you receive the best legal representation possible. Some of these qualities include:
- Compassion and Empathy - An excellent wrongful death lawyer should be compassionate and empathetic towards your situation. They should understand the emotional trauma you're going through and be willing to listen to your concerns.
- Experience - As previously mentioned, knowledge is critical regarding wrongful death cases. Look for a lawyer with a proven track record of successfully handling wrongful death claims.
- Communication Skills - Your lawyer should have the skills to communicate with you and other parties involved in the case, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. They will also keep you posted on updates of your personal injury claim.
- Dedication - A good wrongful death lawyer should be dedicated to your case and willing to go the extra mile to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Before hiring a wrongful death lawyer, ask the right questions to ensure you're making an informed decision. Some questions to ask include:
- How many wrongful death cases have you handled in the past, and what were the outcomes?
- What is your fee structure, and do you work on a contingency basis?
- Will you be the primary lawyer handling my case, or will it be assigned to someone else in your firm?
- What is your communication policy, and how often will you update me on the progress of my case?
- What is your approach to negotiating with insurance companies?
Turn to Martin & Wallentine for Legal Advocacy and Support After a Wrongful Death Accident
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences anyone can endure, and it's even worse when it happens due to someone else's negligence. The emotional trauma and financial burdens of such a loss can be overwhelming. Many Missouri residents who have experienced this tragedy may feel lost and unsure of what to do next. They need a compassionate and experienced St Louis wrongful death lawyer to help them navigate the legal system and get the justice and compensation they deserve.
Wrongful death cases can be complex, and the legal process can be daunting for those who have never been through it before. Insurance companies and defense lawyers will do everything possible to minimize their liability and avoid paying fair compensation. Without the right legal representation, surviving family members could be left to deal with medical bills, funeral expenses, and other financial losses on their own.
That's where Martin & Wallentine can help. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers has handled numerous wrongful death cases over the years, and we understand the pain and frustration that our clients are going through. We are dedicated to providing compassionate and personalized legal representation to help our clients get the justice and compensation they deserve.
With Martin & Wallentine on your side, you can rest assured that you will have a skilled and experienced St. Louis wrongful death lawyer fighting for your rights. We also understand the importance of keeping our clients informed throughout the legal process, and we will provide regular updates on the progress of your case.
Whether you're dealing with a car accident, medical malpractice, or any other type of wrongful death lawsuit, our lawyers know how to build a strong case on your behalf. We will investigate the details of your case, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies and defense lawyers to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation possible.
We'll Stand By Your Side
At Martin & Wallentine, we understand the pain and suffering of losing a loved one. The aftermath of a wrongful death accident can be emotionally and financially draining, so having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side is essential. We will learn about your situation, provide honest legal advice, and help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Don't hesitate to schedule a free consultation with us today at 913-754-9700.
Read What Our Former Clients Have Said
"Professional, informative, and vital in working with the prosecutor to secure the most favorable outcome possible".Barb
"Jerry kept in constant contact with us and our son during the case and went the extra mile to plea before the judge outside and inside the courtroom".Joanne from Nebraska