Missouri Wrongful Death Laws

In Missouri, a "wrongful death" is defined by statute as "the death of a person" that results "from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof."  See Missouri Revised Statute 537.080.

who can file missouri wrongful death claimThis means a wrongful death claim in Missouri arises whenever a person dies due to the negligent, reckless or intentional acts of another person or a business. A wrongful death claim in Missouri is essentially a personal injury claim that results in a death.  Since the decedent is unable to file suit and recover damages, his or her survivors are permitted by Missouri law to seek damages on the decedent's behalf. In addition, the survivors may seek to recover money for losses they suffered in connection with the loss of their loved one.

Who May File a Missouri Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

As in most states, Missouri law specifically sets out who may assert a wrongful death claim in court and prioritizes them in categories. In the first category, a wrongful death claim may be brought by the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren of the deceased. The parents of the deceased person are also included in this first category of who may bring a wrongful death claim. Typically, when a wrongful death claim involves the loss of a child, the child's parents assert the claim.

The second category in Missouri law is reserved for situations when the decedent has no surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, or parents.  In those cases, a surviving sibling of the deceased may file the wrongful death lawsuit. If decedent has no surviving siblings, then a descendent of any siblings may file the claim, and if there are none, a personal representative of the deceased person's estate may assert the claim. If there is no personal representative or estate, an individual may petition the court to appoint a "plaintiff ad litem" who may file the claim.

Under Missouri law, a plaintiff ad litem must be "some suitable person competent to prosecute such action" and whose appointment is requested by one who is "entitled to share in the proceeds" of a successful wrongful death claim.

Wrongful Death Lawyer in Kansas City

If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, please know that we are here for you.  Our door is open to discuss any legal questions or needs you may have in regard to filing a wrongful death claim in the Kansas City area or anywhere in Missouri.

We offer a free, no-obligation consultation for families of victims in Kansas or Missouri. Please contact our Kansas City wrongful death lawyer today to schedule an appointment at your convenience by calling 816-203-0143.


Kevin J. McManus
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Kevin McManus is an accident injury and disability lawyer in Kansas City, MO, and Overland Park, KS