Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?
When another person causes you injury, you have the right to hold them liable for your financial losses and pain and suffering by filing a personal injury claim. However, when such injuries are fatal, the deceased victim can no longer bring a legal claim. For this reason, the law allows certain people dealing with the loss to file a wrongful death.
Even though you feel the loss of a close loved one does not mean you have the right to file a claim and recover damages. Each state has different laws regarding wrongful death claims, including who qualifies to file, and the following people can file for wrongful death under Missouri law.
Surviving Spouse, Children, or Parents
The law first allows the deceased’s surviving spouse and lineal family members – children and parents – to seek damages for wrongful death. This includes biological or legally adopted children, though adopted children do not have the right to file a claim for the death of their biological parent (and vice versa). If a parent is deceased, their children have the right to file a claim, as well. For a married adult, the spouse and children generally file the claim. For a minor or unmarried adult with no children, the parents will generally pursue the case.
What if There is No Spouse, Children, or Parents?
If the deceased person is unmarried without children and has no surviving parents, the right then goes to any brothers or sisters or their lineal descendants. However, in order for a sibling to bring a wrongful death claim, they must prove they incurred losses stemming from the death so they are entitled to damages allowed by the law.
If There are None of the Above Surviving Family Members
If someone dies without qualified family members who will file a claim, the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate can file the claim, with the damages going to the estate. The personal representative is designated in someone’s will or appointed by the court if there is no will. The court might also appoint someone to be a plaintiff ad litem.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
Just because you are a qualified family member does not necessarily mean you can prevail in a wrongful death claim. In order to recover damages, you must prove the following:
- Someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct caused the death
- You incurred damages specified by Missouri law
The best way to know whether you have a valid claim after a tragic loss is to have an experienced St. Louis wrongful death lawyer evaluate your situation. There is a lot at stake in these cases, and having the right legal representation is essential.
You Can Trust Our St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorneys
After an unexpected loss, you want a lawyer who you can trust to handle the legal process while you focus on your family’s emotional recovery. The legal team at Bruntrager & Billings, P.C., knows how to protect your rights, so please call 314-646-0066 or contact us online for your free consultation.