Shock, fear, and panic is the only way to describe what it feels like to suddenly lose a loved one. How to pay for the funeral? What arrangements need to be made for those left behind? How do I protect my family’s rights? Will the Defendant be held Accountable? How can we prevent this from happening to others? Wolfgram Law is the only call you need to make to have your questions answered. Wolfgram Law will carry the burden of the daily details, comforting you by taking action and leaving you and your family time and space to grieve.
No one can truly know what it is like until you have experienced it yourself. When my father-in-law died suddenly I recall thinking, “How can we go on?” We felt vulnerable and exposed, it seemed unreal. We woke up each day to a reality we were not prepared to deal with yet there was a funeral and the future to plan for. I feel better equipped now to help our clients having experienced this trauma myself.
We recommend speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer to file a wrongful death claim as soon as possible following the tragedy. There are accident reconstruction experts and an accident scene to preserve. If a product was responsible for the death we need to secure the defective product. If the defendant knows they are in big trouble they might try to hide assets or destroy evidence. We jump right in and secure the evidence important to your case.
It does feel strange to talk to a lawyer about the death when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and grieve. Client’s feel ashamed or worry about appearing greedy if they talk to a lawyer right away. We understand these feelings, they are natural. But should a defendant profit from the delay? No! We are respectful of the need for a peaceful burial and time to adjust. I promise that if we are working for your family, you will have the freedom to grieve and can rest knowing knowing that you have experienced attorneys working on your behalf.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A WRONGFUL DEATH?
Wrongful death is defined as a death that has been caused by the fault of another party. Wrongful deaths are usually due to negligence or misconduct. Some examples include deaths caused by:
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Car accidents
- Semi truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Boat accidents
- Plane crashes
- Medical malpractice
- Failing to diagnose a fatal disease
- Dangerous prescription medication
- Unsafe work conditions
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
- Criminally negligent behavior
- Inadequate warnings, or failed products or parts
- Unreliable structure or building
In Missouri, the wrongful death statute of limitations is three years. This means that a Missouri wrongful death petition must be on file with the court within three years from the date of the relative’s death. For more information, read our blog “The Missouri Wrongful Death Statute – When A Loved One is Taken Too Soon”
DAMAGES AWARDED FOR WRONGFUL DEATHS IN ST. LOUIS
Wrongful death damages include the loss of love, comfort, companionship and support. Support is financial but also the emotional and physical comfort and support a loved one provided and would provide if their life had not been cut short.
Examples of damages that can be owed are:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost earnings for support of a child or spouse
- Pain, suffering, or mental anguish suffered by the deceased prior to death
- Family services/guidance/counsel
- Punitive damages – In certain circumstances, a jury may award punitive damages when your loved one’s wrongful death was caused by a willful act such as accidents caused by a drunk driver or a driver that was drag racing. Seeking punitive damages intends to punish the wrongdoers for their horrible conduct and prevent them from harming others in the future.
Factors considered in determining pecuniary losses in a wrongful death case include the age, health, condition, life expectancy, intelligence, character, and earning capacity of the deceased.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
Wrongful death claims are filed by a “class representative” on behalf of all wrongful death class members. So there is only one lawsuit or settlement. However, the value of the claim is individual, that is the loss is per person. Close family members have stronger claims, dependents have stronger claims such as a minor child or children who have college to complete, as an example. Most often we represent each of the class members and 99.9% of the time the wrongful death claimants agree on a division of the settlement proceeds. If there is not an agreement the court will take testimony and determine the relative value of each claim as it relates to the overall settlement or verdict.
- Spouse, children, or grandchildren of the deceased (natural or adopted)
- Parent of the deceased (natural or adoptive)
If the deceased person has no surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, or parents:
- Siblings of the deceased or their descendants
If there are no surviving siblings or descendants:
- The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
If there is no personal representative:
- Court appointed “plaintiff ad litem”
Contact Our St. Louis Wrongful Death Lawyers
Hiring a personal injury attorney experienced in wrongful death is essential to get adequate compensation in a claim. The responsible party needs to be held accountable for their actions and/or negligence. Contact the compassionate lawyers at Wolfgram Law for a free consultation.
If you believe you have a wrongful death claim and need a free case evaluation, please contact us.