scales of justice next to a gavel representing a wrongful death lawsuit in southern missouri

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri

The sudden loss of a loved one can cause emotional pain that can feel almost impossible to endure. When their death is the result of another party’s negligent or intentional actions, you may experience an intense sense of injustice as well. Missouri law affords surviving family members the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the at-fault party accountable. 

Furthermore, the suit gives you an opportunity to recover compensation for losses resulting from your loved one’s death, including medical expenses, funeral costs, and lost income for dependents. Here is what you need to know about what to do when filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri.

Determine Who Qualifies as Heirs

Each state has its own laws about which surviving family members have precedence when filing legal action for wrongful death. In Missouri, the following individuals are considered heirs and may file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren of the deceased.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren, the deceased’s parents may file the lawsuit.
  • If there are no surviving parents, the deceased’s siblings or their descendants may file the lawsuit.
  • If none of the above relatives survive, the court may appoint a “plaintiff ad litem” to file the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

Investigate and Gather Evidence

To build a solid wrongful death case, you must gather evidence to support your claim. This may include:

  • Police reports and accident scene photos
  • Medical records and autopsy reports
  • Witness statements
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts, medical professionals, or financial experts
  • Documentation of funeral expenses, medical bills, and lost income

Your attorney can help you collect and organize this evidence to present a compelling case.

Calculate the Value of Your Claim

The value of a wrongful death claim varies depending on the nature of your case. A wrongful death lawsuit might allow you to recover compensation for losses such as:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased’s final injury or illness
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned
  • Pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their death
  • Loss of companionship, guidance, and support for the surviving family members

Your attorney can help you calculate the total value of your claim based on these factors and the unique circumstances of your case.

File Legal Action Before the Deadline

In Missouri, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit generally gives eligible parties three years from the date of the deceased’s death to file a lawsuit. However, this rule has some exceptions, such as in cases involving medical malpractice or government entities.

It is crucial to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to better ensure that you meet all applicable deadlines and preserve your right to seek compensation. Furthermore, seeking early legal assistance can improve your chances of collecting evidence before it disappears and interviewing eyewitnesses before their memories fade.

Need Help with a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? Contact Privette Law Office

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional actions of another party, the team at Privette Law Office would like to extend its most sincere condolences. We understand how challenging the aftermath of this kind of loss can be, and we want to do everything we can to help you secure a more stable future. With us on your side, you can maximize your chances of recovering the full and fair compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.