Losing a loved one can often feel like losing a part of yourself. It is a tragic and painful process. Yet, when an accident caused by recklessness or negligence suddenly takes the life of a family member, the pain can feel sharper, like salt being poured on a wound. How do you cope with the knowledge that someone else’s negligent actions took an innocent life?
At OnderLaw, LLC, we wish we had an answer for you. We can’t bring back your loved one, and we can’t explain why someone else’s thoughtlessness resulted in this tragedy. What we can offer you is our skill and experience in holding those responsible accountable for their actions. The Jefferson City personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw, LLC help families seek full and fair compensation for the loss of their loved one, including funeral costs, medical expenses, and the resulting loss of income.
We understand what a dark time this is for you and your family, but when you are ready, we’ll be here to discuss your legal rights and how the legal system may be able to help you recover valuable compensation. We even offer a free and confidential case evaluation to help get you started and answer your questions. Want to take the first step toward justice? Call us at (314) 963-9000, and let’s talk about what we can do to help.
Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims
Missouri defines a wrongful death as any type of act, behavior, occurrence, circumstance, or even a transaction when, if it had not resulted in death, the individual would have had a claim to recover compensation. For example, if an employee suffered an accident at work and the company was liable for causing that accident, the employee would have a reasonable claim to seek compensation for their resulting injuries. However, when the same accident results in death instead of an injury, Missouri law allows family members to seek compensation instead.
Missouri law paints wrongful death with an extremely broad brush. The words “act, conduct, occurrence, or transactions” cover a wide variety of different accident types and circumstances. However, some of the most common types of accidents that can trigger a wrongful death suit tend to include the following:
- Car and truck accidents
- Pedestrian fatalities
- Bicycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective drugs and medical devices
- Defective consumer products
If any type of reckless or negligent accident cost your loved one their life, talk to an experienced Jefferson City wrongful death attorney about your rights and whether you may be due compensation. An attorney with OnderLaw, LLC can review the circumstances of your case and talk to you about your legal options for recovering damages for the accident. These damages may cover expenses like funeral and burial costs and even emotional distress.
Compensation Available for a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is a way of seeking compensation for the loss of a loved one after a reckless or negligent accident caused by an individual or company. Money does not make up for the fact that a family lost a loved one and is grieving a loss, but it does work to give the family a financial safety net after their family member’s passing. This sudden loss can cause financial upheaval, especially if the family member that passed away was a major contributor or even the sole contributor to the family’s income.
Seeking compensation may also be a way to hold an individual or entity responsible for their negligent behavior. While the amount of compensation can vary drastically depending on the nature of the accident, in general, families pursuing a wrongful death claim may be able to recover money for the following:
- Burial costs
- Funeral costs
- Medical bills related to the individual’s injuries before passing away
- The value of wages and benefits that the person would have earned had they lived, or a loss of income
- Loss of companionship or support
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering inflicted on the deceased before death
Missouri is one of the states that does place a cap, or limit, on the amount of non-economic damages that a family can recover in certain situations. Non-economic damages are more subjective in nature and include things like emotional distress and pain and suffering. These are damages that cannot be measured or calculated using bills or receipts.
Specifically, in cases of medical malpractice, the state caps the amount of money that a family may receive in a successful suit at $400,000 for non-catastrophic injuries and $700,000 for catastrophic injuries. This cap was enacted in 2015 and rises on a 1.7 percent basis per year. The Missouri Department of Insurance provides a chart that calculates the change each year.
The amount of compensation that a family may receive can also depend on other factors. For example, Missouri law allows families to recover 110 percent of the state’s average weekly wage if the deceased family member only worked part-time but also cared for another individual for at least 50 percent of their time. This can include a child, an elderly family member over the age of 65, or a disabled relative. The law also allows families to recover compensation if the person who was killed was a minor at the time of the accident.
However, families also need to keep in mind that in order to pursue compensation for wrongful death, they must file a suit within three years of their loved one’s death. Missouri specifically outlines this statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. If a suit is not brought within that time frame, it can be thrown out without ever being heard by a court, leaving a family with no further recourse for seeking compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The state of Missouri has a specific hierarchy that outlines who may bring a wrongful death suit to court in the event of an accident. The first in line to make a claim are a surviving spouse or surviving children, either biological or adopted. The deceased’s mother or father also has the ability to file a wrongful death claim.
If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, then the next in line would be the siblings of the deceased. In the event that there are no relatives to make a claim, a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may be able to file a claim. A personal representative is an individual that is given power by the courts to represent the deceased and their estate. This is also known as a plaintiff ad litem. The plaintiff ad litem needs to demonstrate that they are entitled to share in the compensation of a successful wrongful death claim according to state law.
Families must keep in mind that only one wrongful death claim can be made following an accident. If a spouse files a wrongful death claim, then another family member would be unable to file a wrongful death claim in court as well.
What is the Cost of a Wrongful Death Attorney?
It is difficult to put on price on justice and peace of mind for you and your family. While no one has the power to bring back your loved one, you do have the power to stand up and hold those responsible accountable for their negligent actions. Securing an experienced Jefferson City wrongful death attorney is the best way to go about doing that.
However, it is understandable that with the grief you are feeling and the overwhelming burden of unexpected burial costs, medical bills, and the loss of a family member’s income, hiring an attorney may seem out of reach. At OnderLaw, LLC, we want to reassure families that hiring an experienced and aggressive legal team to help you through this trying time is not a pipedream.
OnderLaw, LLC understands that your financial situation may be precarious during this time of turmoil. That is why we work for families on a contingency-fee basis. This means that there are no upfront costs associated with your legal representation. We don’t get paid until you recover compensation.
To answer your questions and review the circumstances of your case, we also offer a free and confidential initial case evaluation. This consultation can provide you with valuable feedback on your claim and help you understand your legal rights when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim.
You don’t have the shoulder this burden on your own. Consult with the legal team at OnderLaw, LLC, and let’s work toward getting you the compensation you need and the justice your family member deserves.
Contact a Jefferson City Wrongful Death Attorney Today
After a loss, you may feel overwhelmed by grief and loneliness. It can be hard to think about what tomorrow holds, let alone next week or next year. However, the legal team at OnderLaw, LLC wants you to know that you do have options, and we are ready to help you sort through them. Going through with a wrongful death claim is never an easy decision to make, but it can help some families feel like a measure of justice has been served.
If you want to talk about how an experienced Jefferson City attorney can help you during this difficult time, pick up the phone and reach out to us at (314) 963-9000. The attorneys with OnderLaw, LLC will handle your case with compassion and sensitivity. The initial consultation is confidential and free. Let’s talk about the ways we may be able to help you and your family.