St. Charles Wrongful Death Lawyer

Losing someone you love is heartbreaking. When you know the death could have been prevented if someone had only fulfilled their responsibilities, then the loss is even harder to bear. A St. Charles wrongful death lawyer can help you find answers and justice when a family member suffers an untimely death. You may be entitled to compensation to help offset your losses and provide for the future. A compassionate injury attorney familiar with wrongful death claims could fight to achieve a fair outcome for you and your family.

How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Work?

In St. Charles, a wrongful death lawsuit operates similarly to a personal injury claim. However, since the deceased person cannot file a lawsuit on their own behalf, a family member files a claim. Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.080 states that a wrongful death claim may arise “whenever, the death of a person results from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance” that would have entitled the deceased person to recover damages if death had not prevented them from filing a legal action.

A wrongful death lawyer in St. Charles could investigate to determine whether the deceased person would have had a personal injury claim that can be brought by relatives in the form of a wrongful death action. Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.100 requires wrongful death claims to be filed within three years of the time the “cause of action accrues.” Therefore, the claim must be prepared and filed no later than three years of the date of death.

What is Unique About Wrongful Death Cases?

Wrongful death cases and personal injury cases, although handled similarly, greatly differ in many respects. One of the main differences is how insurance claims proceed in a wrongful death case, as the claim is not owned by the injured party but rather by the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate. This also means that once a case is settled, it must be approved by a court, which is not required in other types of cases.

A wrongful death case focuses on establishing the negligence of another person, but any criminal charges associated with the death would be completely separate from the case. It does not generally include intentional torts. Murder and manslaughter are criminal causes of action that are handled by the state of Missouri, while a wrongful death action is handled as a civil case by the plaintiff’s lawyers who are suing at fault parties and/or their insurance companies.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Actions

In the state of Missouri, wrongful death actions must be brought within three years of the decedent’s death. This time frame differs from most other statutes of limitations, so it is important for a plaintiff to know the difference when deciding to submit a claim for the death of their loved one. Fortunately, a skilled wrongful death attorney in St. Charles County could ensure that a plaintiff files their case with all of the necessary information in a timely manner.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The St. Charles wrongful death laws allow certain specified individuals to bring a claim in order of preference. The first preference is for:

  • Spouses
  • Children (natural or adopted)
  • Lineal descendants of deceased children
  • Parents (natural or adopted)

It does not matter for the purposes of a wrongful death claim whether a child is considered legitimate or illegitimate.  If there are no living relatives in the first preference category, then a St. Charles wrongful death attorney may bring a claim on behalf of any siblings of the deceased or any descendants of those siblings such as nieces and nephews. Finally, if there are no relatives in either of those categories, the court may appoint a plaintiff ad litem to file the claim.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

The parties who file a wrongful death claim may be awarded damages that make up for “pecuniary losses” under Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.090 as well the “reasonable value” of intangible services such as companionship, instruction, guidance, training, comfort, and support.

Amounts for pecuniary losses could cover factors such as the value of wages the deceased person might have earned. Funeral and medical expenses are also included. Moreover, if time elapsed between the injury and the death, damages may be awarded for the harm suffered by the deceased person during that time.

Contact a St. Charles Wrongful Death Attorney

No amount of compensation can bring back a loved one who has passed away. However, compensation from a wrongful death claim could provide for future needs for the family, and in a small way, make up for some of the services the deceased person would have provided.

Assistance from a St. Charles wrongful death lawyer can also help bring closure to your family’s ordeal. An attorney could investigate to learn how and why the death occurred and the parties who may be responsible. For more information about how a wrongful death lawyer could provide assistance to your family, call now for a free consultation.