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Who can file a wrongful death claim in Missouri?

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When someone dies because of a mistake, wrongful act or negligence by someone else, it leaves a massive hole in the lives of their loved ones. In addition to dealing with unexpected grief, these families have to cope with knowing that their loss was the result of the actions or choices of a person or a business.

It's common for those grieving a sudden loss to want justice for their loved one. For many people, the best path to justice after a loss is with a wrongful death lawsuit. Missouri law allows certain people to seek compensation after a death, but it's important to understand the requirements and limitations with these lawsuits.

Missouri limits who may file a wrongful death claim

The Missouri laws on wrongful death are very clear. Only a spouse, parent, child or descendant of the deceased can file a claim for wrongful death. In cases with no spouse, children or surviving parents, a sibling can bring a suit as well. These lawsuits can only result from an action, transaction or situation that would have left the deceased injured and able to sue for damages.

It's important for those in a position to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to do so in a timely manner. Plaintiffs only have three years from the date of injury or death to file a lawsuit. In most cases, taking action well before that deadline passes is the best option.

What kinds of damages can survivors pursue in a lawsuit?

Those pursuing wrongful death claims against a party who caused the death can seek different kinds of compensation. The damages survivors can claim generally fall into two categories: Financial and non-financial.

Financial damages include funeral expenses, medical costs, loss of income, loss of companionship and loss of services, comfort and guidance.

Non-financial damages include the suffering of the deceased between the time of injury and the time of death. State laws limit these non-economic losses to no more than $700,000 in restitution, regardless of the circumstances.

Wrongful death lawsuits offer justice for survivors

In some cases where an accident leads to death, the person or company responsible face criminal charges for their negligence or wrongful actions. Sometimes, however, there just isn't enough evidence for a conviction in a criminal court.

In that scenario, a wrongful death lawsuit may be the only way in which survivors of the deceased can hold anyone accountable. Claims for losses are easier to prove in civil court than in criminal court. Although the final decision of the jury won't take away your pain or correct the wrongs done, it will provide your family with a little justice, a little financial security and penalize the party responsible.

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