The Missouri Revisor of Statutes states that a wrongful death is when an individual dies due to
an act, occurrence, conduct, circumstance, or transaction, which, if the death did not happen,
would have allowed the individual to receive damages. Essentially, this means a wrongful death
claim is essentially a personal injury claim that resulted in an individual’s death. Had the victim
lived, they would have been able to file a personal injury claim for their injuries and losses
resulting from someone else’s negligence. However, if a victim dies as a result of that
negligence, their family has the right to seek justice on their behalf. Discover who can bring a
claim for wrongful death in Missouri and learn how the experienced Missouri wrongful death
claim attorneys at Steelman Gaunt Crowley can help answer your questions by calling (573)
Understanding Wrongful Death Claims
In Missouri, wrongful death claims arise when an individual dies as a result of another person’s
intentional, reckless, or negligent act. Because the deceased individual cannot file the claim and
gain any damages owed, their loved ones can claim them on behalf of the deceased person.
Moreover, the deceased person’s loved ones may try to recover damages to cover the loss they
have suffered as a result of the deceased individual’s death.
Some examples of events that might lead to wrongful death claims include:
Medical malpractice, which refers to an omission or negligent act caused by health care
or medical professional
Incidents involving negligence, like car accidents
Intentional acts, such as crimes
Who Can Submit a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?
Missouri law explicitly outlines who can file a wrongful death claim. The law places these
individuals into categories in order of priority. In the first instance, a surviving child, grandchild,
or spouse may bring a wrongful death claim. Additionally, this category includes the deceased
individual’s parents. Usually, if they are alive, it is the parents of the child that file this claim.
If the deceased person does not have any surviving parents, grandchildren, children, or spouse,
the individuals in the next category may bring a wrongful death claim. In this instance, the
deceased individual’s surviving siblings can file the lawsuit. If the deceased individual does not
have any surviving siblings, one of the sibling’s surviving family members may bring the claim
or, if none exist, the deceased individual’s personal representative of their estate can file the
However, in the final category, if the deceased individual did not appoint a personal
representative, another person can ask the court to select an individual who can file the suit.
This person, known as the plaintiff ad litem, is an appropriate individual who can competently
proceed with the suit, and they may share the claim’s proceeds if it succeeds.
How Do Wrongful Death Claims Differ from Homicide
When a wrongful death claim succeeds, the defendant pays compensation to the deceased
individual’s estate or survivors. However, in a homicide case, if the defendant is guilty, they may
go to jail and/or pay fines and face additional penalties. Another key difference between these
two is that there are differences in terms of the standard of proof.
For instance, in a criminal case, it is necessary for the state to demonstrate that the defendant
committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely, a wrongful death claim is a civil
suit where it is only necessary for the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant was likely to be
responsible for the person’s death. Because of this, a wrongful death claim can succeed even if
the criminal charges resulted in a not-guilty verdict.
What Are the Available Damages for Wrongful Death Claims in
When a wrongful death claim succeeds, the court issues an order to the defendant that requires
them to pay the deceased individual’s estate or survivors a specific amount of compensation.
The precise types of damages, and the awarded amounts, can vary depending on each case.
That said, in Missouri, the court considers the following factors when deciding how much to
Burial and funeral costs
Medical expenses related to any final injuries or illnesses sustained by the deceased
The monetary value of the deceased individual’s salary and benefits that they likely
could have earned if they were still alive or, if the individual in question was a minor,
their parents’ earnings
The deceased individual’s pain and suffering during the period between when they
sustained their injury and their death
The value of any consortium, caregiving services, comfort, companionship, guidance,
instruction, counsel, support, and training the deceased individual could have given to
Alongside this, if the deceased individual did not have full-time employment and was caring for
one or more children, disabled individuals, or seniors, for at least half of their time, there is a
presumption in Missouri that the value of this care equates to 110% of the average weekly state
salary when the death happened. Moreover, it is useful to note that while there is no cap on
these damages, the damages limit in medical malpractice cases applies in these lawsuits if the
claim arises due to a medical or health care error. If you are interested in learning whether or
not you have the legal right to bring a wrongful death case, and how much compensation your
family may be entitled to under the law, consider visiting with the dedicated Missouri wrongful
death attorneys at Steelman Gaunt Crowley.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in
To file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri, it is necessary to do so within a specific period of
time, referred to as the statute of limitations. This period lasts for three years in Missouri and, if
someone files a claim after this deadline, the court is likely to ignore the suit.
Contact a Compassionate Missouri Wrongful Death Attorney To
Learn How You Can Receive Justice For Your Family
No amount of compensation could ever replace the loss of a loved one. However, when
someone dies, it often leaves significant emotional and financial challenges for the grieving
family members. If someone you love died as a result of the negligence or reckless acts of
another person, consider learning how your family can receive justice. Learn who can bring a
claim for wrongful death in Missouri and find out how the compassionate Missouri wrongful
death attorneys at Steelman Gaunt Crowley at (573) 341-8336 can help ensure your legal and
financial rights are protected during this difficult time.