When Should You Call Our Kansas City Wrongful Death Lawyer?
The sudden death of a family member or loved one due to an accident or catastrophic injury can be devastating. The emotional pain from this loss can be even worse if you suspect that they died because of the negligent, reckless or even intentional conduct of another person or company.
If you have lost a husband or wife, parent, child or other family member in these circumstances, you likely have a lot of questions and may not know where to turn. Please know that our wrongful death lawyer and legal team are here to provide the answers that you need and deserve.
Our Kansas City wrongful death lawyer is committed to helping families grieving from the irreparable loss of a loved one. We can find out who is responsible for your loss and those companies or persons accountable in the legal system. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation: 816-203-0143. We would be honored to be of assistance to you.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death occurs when someone is killed as a result of the negligence, recklessness or intentional conduct of another. When a wrongful death claim arises, it may be pursued by the survivor's family as a civil lawsuit for money damages. While no amount of money can undo the loss of a loved one, a family may seek compensation - the civil system's only measure of justice - for the following damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Funeral expenses and burial costs;
- Loss of future wages;
- Medical expenses;
- Emotional pain and mental anguish;
- Loss of companionship and loss of care; and
- Punitive damages (payment made to punish the responsible party for their negligent or reckless conduct).
A wrongful death claim is separate and apart from any criminal prosecution that may be brought by the government against the at-fault parties. A family member may have a wrongful death claim for the death of a loved one, regardless of whether criminal charges are filed.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims arise in a variety of circumstances, including:
- Car accidents, truck crashes and motorcycle wrecks;
- Serious injuries, such as brain injuries and spinal cord injuries;
- Slip and falls or other premises liability cases;
- Nursing home abuse;
- Medical malpractice; and
- Defective products.
Depending on how the death occurred, a wrongful death lawyer can determine whether any laws and regulations were broken and whether there may be grounds to bring a wrongful death claim. This claim would be filed and pursued by the victim’s family against the at-fault parties and may be paid by insurance that covers the loss.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim
State law governs which parties are permitted to file a wrongful death claim.
- Missouri. Missouri law allows surviving spouses, children and grandchildren to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases of a deceased child, parents of the deceased may also qualify. Siblings can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri if the deceased has no other surviving parents, spouse, children, or grandchildren.
- Kansas. In Kansas, a wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the estate of the decedent for the benefit of the "heirs at law." K.s.a.60-1902 and 60-1902. An "heir at law" is "one who takes by intestate succession (without a will) under Kansas statues." If the decedent leaves a spouse and no children, all of the decedent's property passes to a surviving spouse by intestate succession in Kansas. As a result, the surviving spouse would be an heir at law. To understand how this provision impacts your particular case, it is important to consult with an experienced Kansas wrongful death attorney.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim
To receive financial compensation for the death of a loved one, you must prove certain required legal elements to establish a claim in Missouri and Kansas. These elements are established by submitting evidence as supports your right to recover damages for a death of a loved one that was caused by another. While every claim is unique, the basic elements for proving a wrongful death claim remain the same.
These elements are as follows:
- Duty of care. You must prove that the defendant owed your family member a duty of care under the circumstances that caused the accident. Many times, this duty of care is obvious and recognized under the law. For example, car and truck drivers, product manufacturers, doctors, property owners, and employers owe certain duties of care.
- Breach of the duty of care. After establishing that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care, you next must prove that the defendant breached this duty. Evidence of a breach of duty can include an act of negligence, wrong doing, recklessness, or intentional harm. This can be one of the most difficult elements to prove in your case. However, an experienced wrongful death attorney can help investigate and establish the evidence to show that the duty of care was breached.
- Causation. In addition to establishing a duty of care and a breach of that duty, you must show that the breach was the proximate cause of the decedent's death. Approximate cause is a legal term that generally means the primary cause of the death.
- Damages. If your case is a wrongful death claim, then clearly you and your loved one have paid the ultimate price and experienced the greatest emotional and tragic damage from another's negligence. Death is a compensable damage in Kansas and Missouri law. However, state laws can be complicated and certain caps apply in certain situations. Our law firm can help you navigate these state laws, gather important evidence and conduct the proper investigation so you can present the strongest case possible to maximize your wrongful death claim.
What's the Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Like other personal injury claims, a wrongful death claim must be pursued in a timely manner before the expiration of certain deadlines, known as a wrongful death “statutes of limitations.” If you fail to file your claim prior to those deadlines, your claim will be barred, and you will no longer have the right to recover compensation.
In Missouri, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is generally three years. See R.S.Mo. 537.100. However, this statute of limitations can be reduced in certain situations, so it is important for your case to be evaluated by an experienced personal injury or wrongful death attorney to determine if a shorter statute of limitations applies. For example, in Missouri if a wrongful death action involves medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may be two years. See R.S.Mo. 516.105.
In Kansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years. See K.S.A. 60-513.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you with every aspect of your wrongful death claim including understanding strict deadlines and filing requirements, collecting evidence, and building a case. You should hire a wrongful death attorney who you can count on while you concentrate on taking care of your family.
Our Kansas City Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help
Our Kansas City wrongful death law firm is ready to answer your questions and hold the liable party accountable. Please contact us today for a free, confidential consultation. We are here to answer your legal questions and put you on a path that protects your family's legal rights
We are committed to providing you the guidance, support and attentive service required. We handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, which means your family pays nothing unless we recover compensation for you.
If you need help, and are unsure where to start, contact our Kansas City wrongful death lawyer by using the form below or by calling (816) 203-0143 for a free, no obligation consultation. To take on a negligent party and their insurance company, you will need someone with legal knowledge and experience on your side. We are ready to work hard on your behalf and make sure your family’s rights are protected - please call today.