St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorney & Wrongful Death Lawyer St Louis
While monetary compensation cannot replace a loved one, it can help alleviate many of the day-to-day problems confronted by families of a wrongful death victim.
Nothing affects a family more than the unexpected death of a father, mother, child or other relative. The void left by this sudden death can seem impossible to fill. If one of your family members was killed in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you deserve compensation for your emotional and financial losses.
While compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit cannot replace what you have lost, it can provide you with a much-needed sense of justice. Furthermore, this compensation can alleviate some of your family’s financial worries.
The term “wrongful death” is used to refer to the death of a person as a result of someone’s misconduct or negligence. Each state has a statute that governs wrongful death claims. In the state of Missouri, “wrongful death” is defined as “the death of a person resulting from any conduct, act, transaction, occurrence, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled the person to recover damages in respect thereof.”
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death is when a person’s negligent, reckless or careless actions cause the death of another. This responsible party may be liable for the financial losses of the victim’s family. Some of the common types of wrongful death cases include:
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Construction Zone Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Drunk Driving Accidents
Some of the damages that may be able to be recovered in a wrongful death case include expenses related to the death, loss of earnings the person would have provided their family, loss of benefits they would have received, and possibly punitive damages.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Like all other US states, Missouri has specific laws about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. The individuals who are the first in line to bring a claim to court include:
- The spouse of the deceased person
- The children or grandchildren of the deceased person
- The parents of the deceased person. This is the most common situation if the claim involves the death of a child.
If a deceased individual has no living spouse, parents, children, or grandchildren, a sibling may bring the case to court. If there are no siblings, the “personal representative” of the deceased person’s estate will be allowed to file the claim.
Finally, a “plaintiff ad litem” can be appointed by the court if none of the above situations apply. This person may pursue the case as requested by a person who is “entitled to share in the proceeds” of a wrongful death claim. For example, this could be a cousin or other extended familial relative named in the will of the deceased but may not be able to bring a claim to court under Missouri law.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Suit?
The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to obtain financial compensation for the losses incurred due to someone’s death. A few different factors affect the damages that you and your family can recover if you file a wrongful death suit after a car accident.
Generally, the following damages can often be recovered:
- medical bills related to the deceased person’s injury or illness
- funeral and burial expenses
- pain and suffering experienced by the deceased
- value of wages or benefits the deceased person would likely have earned
- “reasonable value of the services, companionship, consortium, instruction, comfort, guidance, training, counsel, and support” the deceased person provided to the family members
Each case is different, so it’s important to work closely with a team of experienced St. Louis wrongful death lawyers to pursue full and fair compensation and ensure the best possible outcome for your wrongful death suit.
4 Common Mistakes When Filing a Wrongful Death Suit
Failing to Act Quickly
Missouri, like every other state, imposes a “statute of limitations” for filing a wrongful death claim. This means that there is a deadline for filing a claim. The statute of limitations for wrongful death within Missouri’s territorial jurisdiction is three years from the date of the death.
While it’s understandable to want to take some time to grieve, don’t let the clock run out on your opportunity to recover damages. If you wait too long, evidence may disappear, and witness memories may fade, making it difficult to prove your case. Don’t let this happen — take action now to protect your rights.
Attempting to Represent Yourself
No matter how strong you think your evidence is or how good your communication or negotiation skills are, representing yourself in a Missouri wrongful death claim is not recommended for a number of important reasons.
- First, the other driver and their Insurer will most likely have an experienced attorney on their side. This attorney will work hard to poke holes in your case and, if possible, get the case dismissed entirely.
- Second, wrongful death laws can be complicated. Hiring an attorney who understands these laws can help you navigate through the process and ensure your rights are protected.
- Third, without the right knowledge and experience, you may miss important evidence or underestimate the value of the claim.
- Finally, even if you can build a strong claim, the Insurer may try to use legal loopholes or dirty tactics to discredit your case or devalue your claim.
Failing to Keep Good Records
After losing a loved one in a car crash, you may not think clearly or be able to cope with everything that needs to be done. As a result, you may fail to keep good records of the accident and related damages. This can be a problem when it comes time to pursue a wrongful death claim. The Insurer will require clear evidence of the accident and the damages before they agree to pay out any money. If you don’t have good records, you may find it difficult to prove your case and recover the compensation you deserve.
Filing Against the Wrong Party
This is especially common in “chain reaction” car accidents, where it may not be immediately clear who is at fault. However, it’s important to take the time to investigate the accident and determine who was responsible before filing a claim. Otherwise, you may waste time and resources pursuing a case against the wrong person.
More common mistakes include:
- Filing in the wrong court
- Failing to gather evidence
- Relying on insurance companies and their adjusters
- Accepting the first settlement offer
These are only a few mistakes people make when filing a wrongful death claim in Missouri. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, it’s important to seek experienced legal help as soon as possible to avoid making these or other mistakes that could jeopardize your case.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney
Attorney Christopher Hoffmann has been helping people recover compensation for wrongful deaths caused by car, truck and other motor vehicle accidents for 25 years. By focusing exclusively on motor vehicle accident cases, he has developed a solid understanding not only of how insurance companies handle such cases, but also the true value of these claims. He also understands the tactics insurance companies will use to limit their liability in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including offering families only a portion of what their case is worth.
At The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. our goal is to ensure that you receive maximum financial compensation for your losses. Mr. Hoffmann will thoroughly investigate all avenues of compensation for your family following a fatal car accident. In hit and run accidents, that may include your own car insurance policy for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Insurance companies and defense lawyers know about Christopher Hoffmann’s willingness to go to trial and his reputation as an effective trial lawyer. They also know that he does not quickly settle cases for less than their true value and that he works hard to obtain significant results in all wrongful death cases. You can rely on him to protect your rights and the future of your family during these difficult times.
Contact us at (314) 361-4242 for a free and private consultation. Attorney Chris Hoffmann will speak with you personally. You never pay attorney fees unless we recover compensation for you.
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