Can I bring a wrongful death claim, and what damages can I recover in a wrongful death claim?
In Missouri, a wrongful death claim is governed by statute (RSMo. §§ 537.080, 537.085, and 537.090). The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate specific relatives for the loss of their loved ones.
Specifically, Missouri permits three statutory classes of wrongful death claimants who may bring a wrongful death claim. Class 1 is comprised of the decedent’s spouse, children (or surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children), and parents. Class 2 consists of the decedent’s siblings (or their descendants), and finally Class 3 consists of a plaintiff ad litem to be appointed by the court.
In bringing a wrongful death claim, Class 1 claimants have priority over Class 2 and Class 3 claimants, and Class 2 claimants have priority over Class 3 claimants. In short, the court will ensure there are no claimants in a higher class before permitting a lower-class claimant to pursue the claim.
Once the proper claimants have been identified, those claimants are then permitted to pursue specific damages for the loss of their loved one. In Missouri, those damages include compensation for monetary support the decedent provided to the claimant, funeral expenses, damages suffered by the decedent between the time of the injury and his/her death, and the value of the decedent’s relationship with the claimant (this includes the value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support that the claimant is now deprived of).
If your family member has died as a result of the negligence of another person, please reach out to The A.W. Smith Law Firm for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.