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Filing a Columbia, MO Wrongful Death Action

When a person acts unreasonably and injures someone else, the injured party is entitled to recover damages. If the injured party dies because of the reckless act, the decedent’s family is entitled to compensation for what they have lost. Although there are many situations in which a purposeful act leads to criminal charges for manslaughter or murder and then a civil wrongful death action by the decedent’s family, the number one reason for these civil actions is a motor vehicle crash.

If you recently lost a family member because of someone’s negligence, the wrongful death attorneys at AW Smith Law will provide you with caring, competent representation in insurance negotiations and in court if a settlement does not adequately address your family’s needs. Filing a Columbia, MO wrongful death action is complicated and stressful. Call for a free consultation to learn what our attorneys can do to help you.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action?

State law divides those who can file wrongful death actions in Columbia into two classes. The first class consists of relatives who are generally considered closest emotionally to the decedent. They are the decedent’s spouse, children, and parents.

The second class consists of the decedent’s siblings. Class two members can only file a wrongful death claim if there are no members in class one to file. If more than one action is filed, the court typically consolidates the multiple filings into one. Family members do not have to give permission for an action to be filed, and upon receiving an award, the family can decide how to split it. If infighting prevents a unified decision, the judge and jury will decide for them.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

Every state sets a limit on the time a person has to begin legal action against someone else. Known as the statute of limitations, Missouri gives family members with wrongful death claims three years to bring the action against the party or parties that caused the death through negligence, recklessness, or a deliberate act.

Damages Awarded in a Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death damages cover calculable and subjective losses. In a claim for wrongful death, the family can collect for:

  • The wages the decedent contributed to the family but lost while undergoing medical treatment or because they were physically or cognitively unable to work, as well as the wages that will not be earned after the injured party dies
  • The decedent’s final expenses, which include medical bills for treatment connected to the injuries and funeral arrangements
  • Pain and suffering by the injured party prior to death but also for the family members’ emotional pain at suddenly losing a loved one
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse who no longer has the companionship, support, and relationship with the decedent
  • Loss of a parent’s counsel for children who will no longer be guided and supported by the adult decedent

A survivorship action can also be filed with a wrongful death action. Damages are similar. Our attorneys can discuss how filing a wrongful death action can benefit a family in Columbia by securing finances now and into the future.

Damage Caps on Non-Economic Damages

Missouri limits the amount of non-economic damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases. While catastrophic injury cases are more widely capped, in wrongful death cases, non-economic damages are limited only in medical malpractice cases to $700,000. Some cap limits increase by 1.7 percent annually. Consult with AW Smith Law to review a wrongful death action and learn how damage caps might affect it.

Call AW Smith Law for Help Filing a Columbia, MO Wrongful Death Action

Wrongful deaths are especially tragic because of their suddenness; your loved one is with you one day and not the next. If someone else is responsible for the death, your family may be entitled to compensation. AW Smith Law negotiates insurance claims with both vehicular and homeowners’ insurers for settlements substantial enough to carry a family into the future.

When settlements are not enough, we present the evidence in court for juries to decide what is fair. Our goal is for spouses, children, parents, and other family members who depended on the decedent to be awarded enough money for a secure future. Call our attorneys now for a free consultation about filing a Columbia wrongful death action.