Archive for the ‘Wrongful Death’ Category

Kansas City Attorneys Explains the “Ws” of Wrongful Death Actions

Monday, February 29th, 2016

If you ask the average adult if they are familiar with lawsuits pertaining to a divorce or car accident, the answer is almost a universal “yes.” Litigation involving these two areas are so prevalent they have become part of our culture. Everyone knows someone who is in the process of or has recently been divorced. The same is true of car accident claims. However, if you ask that same adult about wrongful death claims, it is very likely that he or she will not be quite as familiar. Thankfully, this is mostly because wrongful death actions are much less common place. If you are one of the many people who are not quite sure what is meant by a wrongful death action, the following is a basic overview:

What is a wrongful death action? A wrongful death action refers to a civil lawsuit brought against a wrongdoer (aka defendant) on behalf of the victim, to recover damages that the victim would have been able to collect, had he or she not died as a result of the wrongdoer’s negligent or intentional acts. In other words, a wrongful death action is akin to any other personal injury case, albeit the plaintiff is not the actual victim.

Who can file a wrongful death action on behalf of a victim? The whole crux of a wrongful death case is that the true victim is not alive to pursue the lawsuit him or herself. This leads to the question, who can stand in his or her place? The answer to this question varies from state to state. In Missouri for example, the first line of people who can bring a lawsuit include the victim’s surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, or parents. If the victim has no living relatives in this category, then a sibling or niece or nephew may step in.

Who can be named as a defendant in a wrongful death action? A wrongful death lawsuit is brought against the person or entity that negligently or intentionally caused the harm to the victim which led to his or her death. Possible defendants can include:

  • Individual acting in his or her professional or personal capacity,
  • Government entity,
  • Corporation (such as a manufacturer, designer or installer of a product)

What type of damages can be recovered in a wrongful death action? Damages a plaintiff may be entitled to recover include:

  • Economic damages (such as medical bills, burial expenses, lost wages)
  • Non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering victim incurred before death)

When do wrongful death actions need to be filed by? In Missouri, most wrongful death actions must be brought within three years. However, there are exceptions to this rule that can reduce the time to just two years. This is why it is so important to contact an attorney as early as possible to determine which statute of limitations is applicable to your case.

While every state has a wrongful death law on its books, the laws are not the same. If you believe your family member death is the result of the wrongdoing of another, it is important to seek out a qualified Kansas City Injury Attorney. Wrongful death cases are often very complex. Only an experienced Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney has the ability to thoroughly review the facts surrounding your loved one’s death and make the determination if the liable party can be held accountable. The seasoned Kansas City Personal Injury Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless injury victims, in both Kansas and Missouri, fight to obtain just compensation. You can trust our team of attorneys to help you make sure that justice is served. Contact Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. today at (816) 472-4673 to schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys.

Nursing Home Abuse and Wrongful Death Claims in Kansas City, Missouri

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Nursing home abuse is one of the most distressing crimes imaginable, especially when it results in the death of the victim. There is more than one way to seek justice when something shocking like this happens — in addition to pursuing criminal charges such as manslaughter or elder abuse, a close relative can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties.

Fighting Back Against Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse occurs in a variety of forms — it may take the form of medical neglect, malnutrition, direct physical abuse or even sexual abuse, among other forms. Although it is not always easy to detect, there are usually telltale indicators. The presence of extensive bedsores, for example, is often (although not always) a sign of nursing home abuse.

Unfortunately, in many cases there is simply not enough evidence to support a criminal prosecution. Regardless of whether or not a successful criminal prosecution is possible, however, it may still be possible to win a wrongful death lawsuit, because the burden of proof that you must meet to win a civil lawsuit is much lower than what is necessary to secure a criminal prosecution.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Missouri

To file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kansas City, Missouri you must be the spouse, child, grandchild or parent of the deceased, although if no such relative is still living then a sibling or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file the wrongful death claim. If the abuse was committed by an employee of the nursing home, you are normally entitled to add the nursing home itself as a plaintiff, because an employer is usually responsible for the actions of its employees. Even if the abuser was not an employee of the nursing home, you can win a lawsuit against a nursing home if you can prove that it negligently supervised the abuser. You must file a wrongful death lawsuit within three years of the date of death in order to comply with the Missouri statute of limitations.

Reaching a Settlement or a Verdict

If you win a Kansas City wrongful death lawsuit, you will be entitled to damages for the deceased’s pain and suffering immediately prior to death, as well as for burial and funeral expenses, medical bills, loss of future earnings and benefits, and your loss of services and emotional benefits that the deceased would provided if the death had not occurred. You will need to accurately calculate these amounts and support them with evidence to prepare for settlement negotiations with the defendant, because preparing for a successful wrongful death lawsuit is the best way to strengthen your bargaining position in settlement negotiations. If you win a lawsuit, the damages will be distributed among the deceased’s close relatives, and your share will go directly to you rather than to the estate of the deceased.

How a Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

A typical successful resolution to a nursing home abuse wrongful death lawsuit involves gathering enough evidence for a strong case, filing a lawsuit, and then negotiating a settlement from a dominant bargaining position. For this, you will need a Kansas City wrongful death attorney who is equally skilled in private negotiations and courtroom litigation. The Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys of Hubbard & Kurtz possess decades of experience doing just this — aggressively fighting for our clients’ interests is simply a way of life for us. Call Hubbard & Kurtz today at (816) 472-HOPE (4673) to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

 

 

 

 

Intoxicated Teenager Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Killing Kansas Man

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Teenage drinking and driving is more than a just a problem; it is a real cause for concern. It is estimated that while teen drivers make up approximately 10 percent of licensed motorists, they are the cause of more than 15 percent of all alcohol-related crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2012, 25 percent of male drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 years who were involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. It is estimated that alcohol is a factor in a third of all teenage auto fatalities.

To combat this problem, all states including the District of Columbia have adopted a zero tolerance policy for minors who drink and drive. For example, in both Kansas and Missouri, a minor who is found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 or more is subject to criminal charges. While laws like “zero tolerance” have helped, they have not eliminated the problem of teen drunk driving. All too often, teenagers get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol and the consequences are nothing short of tragic.

In August of 2014, an Overland Park man was killed after he was struck by a car. The Kansas man was standing near a legally parked car on the street in front of his home. The vehicle that hit the parked car and the man was driven by a 17-year old male. The 52-year old died at the scene of the accident. The man’s girlfriend, who was standing close to him when the vehicle approached, suffered serious injuries and was taken to the hospital. She did however, survive the accident. The teenage driver was not injured.

At the time of the accident, the cause was not known. Later, blood samples taken from the teenage driver at the time of accident, allegedly revealed that the teenager had been drinking. In mid-September, the teenage driver was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, while allegedly driving under the influence, for killing the man. The teen was also charged with one count of aggravated battery, while allegedly under the influence, for injuries sustained by the man’s girlfriend.

In late January, the family of the male victim filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the teenager and his parents. It was discovered that at the time of the accident, the teen was on court probation. As a part of his probation, the teen was required to follow certain rules, including a 9:30 pm curfew and he was not to drink alcohol or be present at any gatherings where alcohol and/or drugs were present. According to the lawsuit filed, the teen’s parents were negligent when they allowed their son to use their car that evening, when they knew or should have known about his history of substance abuse. In filing their lawsuit, the family of the man killed hope that people will become more aware of the frequency of dangerous teenage drinking and driving

If your loved one was seriously injured or killed after being involved in an accident with a drunk driver, the attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. are here to help. Our compassionate team of injury attorneys understand how a drunk driver can completely dismantle a person’s life. While our attorneys cannot fix the emotional and physical pain of the injuries suffered or of losing a loved one, they can hold the responsible party financially accountable. The Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless injury victims in both Kansas and Missouri obtain money damages for their losses. To schedule an appointment to discuss your matter with a skilled Kansas City Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Attorney, contact Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. today at (816) 472-4673.

Landlord Negligence: An All Too Common Cause of Wrongful Deaths Lawsuits

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

One of the most common reasons why a family member may file a wrongful death lawsuit is after a loved one is killed in an accident caused by landlord negligence. While specific landlord-tenant laws can vary greatly from state to state, all states share the same basic require that a landlord needs to maintain a safe residence for his or her tenant(s). If a tenant is killed as the result of a landlord who has failed in his or her obligations to a tenant, then the family has the right to seek compensation from the landlord and any other negligent parties through a wrongful death lawsuit.

In late August, The Boston Globe reported that the family of a young Boston University student, who perished in a fire in April 2013, was planning on filing a wrongful death action. The family accuses the landlord of renting an ‘illegal’ apartment. They allege that the house where the student lived was not safe and had several problems, including being overcrowded. The house’s building plans with the city listed six bedrooms but had been converted to have twelve bedrooms. A total of 14 tenants occupied the structure. Three of the tenants occupied bedrooms in the basement, which were deemed to have been illegal by the city more than 10 years ago. However, nothing was ever done.

According to the complaint, the tenants on the third floor only had one way out of the building, which was down a flight of stairs. On the day of the fire, this set of stairs was made impassable by heavy smoke and fire. Local code requires a rental unit such as this one, to have at least two means of egress. The complaint also alleges that the house had a faulty fire-alarm system. The system in place, which did not have a mandated city permit, either failed or was not connected properly so that an early sound would warn tenants on the upper floors of a fire. Instead, by the time the alarm located on the ceiling of the attic went off, smoke and flames had completely engulfed the stairs.

Per the complaint, had the apartment been equipped with a fully functional fire-alarm system and a second means of egress, the occupants on the third floor would have had time to safely escape the building on the day of the fire. Five tenants and guests did escape from the third floor rooms by jumping out of windows. Those that survived the blaze suffered injuries ranging from a fractured back to a sprained ankle. The student killed in the fire was found just a few feet from her third floor bedroom window. Her body was severely burned and the official cause of her death was smoke inhalation.

While the wrongful death suit filed by the student’s parents will never fully compensate them for their loss, it will hopefully help bring them closure and a sense of justice being served.

 If someone that you love died as the result of landlord negligence it is imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to help protect your rights. A Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney can explain the process of seeking damages and will help make sure that you know what to expect. The experienced Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys at the Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless clients around the area, in both Kansas and Missouri. Our caring and compassionate team of attorneys are skilled at helping wrongful death client find their way through this challenging time in their lives. Please contact us today at (816) 472-4673 to set up an initial consultation.

Missouri’s “One Recovery Rule” Bars Recovery for One Family

Friday, August 1st, 2014

In late July of this year, a Missouri family received devastating news. The 8th Circuit Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, which dismissed their wrongful death claim against several big tobacco companies. The family filed a wrongful death case after husband and father, Michael Thompson, died from throat cancer in 2009 after smoking cigarettes. The Court in its ruling held that the Thompson family did not have a cause of action based on Missouri’s “one recovery” rule.

History. Michael Thompson began smoking cigarettes while a minor. He smoked for a total of 28 years—until he received a diagnosis of lung cancer in 1997. Thompson brought a personal injury lawsuit against several major manufacturers, sellers and distributors of tobacco products for his injuries due to cigarette smoking. The suit named several industry giants as defendants, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Philip Morris USA, Inc., and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. The aforementioned companies are the makers of brand name cigarettes, such as Marlboro, Winston and Doral, amongst others that Thompson smoked during his lifetime. The case against the manufacturers went to trial and in 2003 the jury found in Thompson’s favor. The jury determined that the tobacco companies were liable for negligence and product defect and awarded Thompson a judgment of more than $1 million dollars in damages.

“One Recovery” Rule. The Thompson family’s wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the same tobacco manufactures named in his earlier personal injury case. The Court affirmed the dismissal citing the one recovery rule, which prohibits a decedent’s heirs from recovering under a wrongful death action, in the event that the decedent received satisfaction for the same wrongdoing, whether by settlement or trial, during the decedent’s lifetime. The theory behind the rule is that if the decedent resolved the claim during his or her lifetime, then there is no claim remaining after his or her death.

The decision came as a surprise to some because the ‘one recovery’ rule is a relatively obscure rule. The rule comes from a 1906 Missouri Supreme Court decision in Strode v. St. Louis Transit Co. The Thompson family argued that a lot has changed since the Court’s decision more than 100 years ago. Namely that the wrongful death statute creates an independent cause of action for a decedent’s heirs. The Circuit Court rejected the Thompson’s argument stating that it was against the plain language of Strode.

What the Future Holds. Missouri is one of many states that has a law like “one recovery” on the books. However, the Thompson case can leave a person who has a terminal illness like Michael Thompson, feeling confused about his or her legal options. This why it is important to talk with a seasoned attorney who handles personal injury and wrongful death matters routinely. He or she will be able to educate you as to your options and make sure that you receive proper compensation.

Coping with the loss of a loved one that was killed as the result of the wrongdoing of another can feel like an impossible task. However, you do not have to suffer alone. You may be able to hold the accountable parties liable for their actions through a wrongful death lawsuit. A Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney will explain the process of seeking damages and will help make sure that your rights are protected. The experienced Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys at the Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless clients, in both Kansas and Missouri. Our compassionate team of attorneys are skilled at helping wrongful death clients receive justice. Please contact us today at (816) 472-4673 to set up an initial consultation.

Wrongful Death Actions Often Follow Pedestrian Accidents

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

One common type of accident which often results in a wrongful death action as well as a criminal case is the pedestrian accident. When a pedestrian is struck and killed, it is often because the driver of a motor vehicle was behaving recklessly or negligently, and in violation of the law. Because two types of actions may be pursued against the defendant, there is an opportunity for the victim’s family to obtain financial recovery for their loss, as well as the possibility that the responsible party will receive criminal punishment for their actions.

Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents happen more frequently than you may realize. One pedestrian somewhere in America is struck and killed by a vehicle every two hours. This means that twelve pedestrians die in accidents every day. Some pedestrians who are involved in accidents do survive, and they receive injuries which range from scrapes and bruises to severe head injuries and loss of limbs. Many pedestrians do not survive accidents with motor vehicles, though, because the force of the impact from the vehicle can throw them or crush them, causing life-threatening injuries or immediate death at the time of the accident.

Families of pedestrian accident victims can seek two forms of civil damages after losing someone that they love in a pedestrian accident. The first type of civil action is a survival action, which is brought against the at-fault driver by the family members of the deceased for the purpose of recovering the damages which were suffered by the deceased as a result of the accident. The second type of civil action is a wrongful death action. Wrongful death actions serve the purpose of helping the families of pedestrian accident victims recover for damages that they have experienced due to the losses of their loved ones. These damages include loss of support, loss of companionship, and funeral expenses.

Since pedestrian accidents sometimes occur when the at-fault driver is not breaking the law, families of accident victims should take comfort in knowing that survival and wrongful death actions can still be pursued under these kinds of circumstances. The only difference from this scenario and other pedestrian accidents which do involve unlawful behavior on the part of the at-fault driver is that in cases where there is unlawful behavior, there are also likely to be criminal charges filed. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a common cause of pedestrian accidents involving unlawful behavior. Speeding is another commonly cited unlawful behavior which often results in pedestrian deaths. Sometimes, the conduct of the at-fault driver exceeds that which we would classify merely as unlawful behavior. These cases receive special treatment under criminal laws, with vehicular manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter charges often being filed in cases of extreme recklessness.

If someone that you love was killed in a pedestrian accident, it is essential that you speak with an attorney as soon as you can in order to protect your rights. A Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney can help you to understand the process of pursuing a claim for damages, and what you might expect to happen along the way from start to finish. The experienced Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. help clients from throughout the region, including St. Joseph, Independence, Lees Summit, Columbia, Warrensburg, Overland Park, Olathe, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, and many other Kansas and Missouri communities. We offer caring and compassionate assistance to our wrongful death clients as they navigate a very difficult time in their lives. Please call us today, at (816) 472- 4673 to arrange for an initial consultation.

Who Can Pursue an Action for Wrongful Death in Kansas?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

If you have lost a loved one because of the negligent actions of someone else, you are likely to experience many feelings immediately after your loss. Sadness, shock, confusion, anger, and many other feelings are often reported by friends and families of people who have died a wrongful death. Wrongful deaths can take many forms, all of which are devastating for the family and friends of the deceased, who never expected that the person that they love so much would be torn away from them so soon. Automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, workplace accidents, and many other tragedies can cause wrongful deaths. Sometimes, it may feel as though there is nothing that you can do in the wake of such a tragic event. However, there may be something that you can do following a wrongful death which can help your family to recover from your loss while making the negligent actor or actors take responsibility for their actions. You could file a wrongful death action, and it would accomplish both of those things.

There are a few different people who can file a wrongful death action in Kansas, namely, the heirs at law of the victim. The victim’s spouse, children, grandchildren, and perhaps some others can join together and pursue recovery from the party or parties who caused the death of their loved one. Families take many forms in modern society, and there may also be ways for these families to pursue wrongful death actions. A Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney can help you to determine which members of your family are eligible to file a wrongful death claim, as well as who they can file a claim against. It is not uncommon for there to be multiple defendants in wrongful death actions, especially those where both an individual and one or more business entities are involved, such as a workplace accident or an accident involving a tractor trailer.

There are a few categories of damages that family members can claim as part of their wrongful death action. Reasonable funeral expenses is one common type of damages sought, as is mental anguish. Spouses can recover for the loss of love, affection, and other things related to their marital relationship. If the deceased was a parent of young children, their family may pursue damages related to the loss of their caregiving and guidance. Depending upon who the victim was and what roles they played in their family, the types of damages there may be other types of damages that they can pursue. All of these categories of damages address the impact of the loss on the victim’s family.

If someone that you love is killed in a tragic accident and negligence is to blame, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as you can in order to protect your rights. A Kansas Wrongful Death Attorney can help you to understand the process of pursuing a claim for damages, and what you might expect to happen along the way from start to finish. The experienced Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. help clients from throughout the region, including St. Joseph, Independence, Lees Summit, Columbia, Warrensburg, Overland Park, Olathe, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, and many other Kansas and Missouri communities. We offer caring and compassionate assistance to our wrongful death clients as they navigate a very difficult time in their lives. Please call us today, at (816) 472- 4673 to arrange for an initial consultation.

Wrongful Death of Missouri Firefighter

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

In February 2014, a Columbia, Missouri firefighter was called to the scene of a collapsed building at the University Village Apartments, which are part of the University of Missouri.   The building served as housing for graduate students, as well as undergraduates who were married or had children.  While looking for trapped residents on the second floor of the building, the walkway gave way beneath the firefighter and he was killed.  The firefighter’s wife now has brought an action on behalf of herself and as Next Friend for the decedent’s minor daughter.

This action was filed pursuant to Missouri’s Wrongful Death Statute, section 537.080 et. seq. of the Missouri Revised Statutes, which provides a cause of action for the close relatives or court appointed representative of a decedent to pursue a legal action when the person’s death was caused by the behavior of another person, often as the result of the negligent or reckless actions of someone other than the decedent.  In this case, the firefighter’s wife brought the action based on allegations that the building, constructed in 1956, was structurally unsafe and had not been maintained properly. 

The cause of action that is the basis for this wrongful death action is said to lie within the area of premises liability.  A wrongful death action may be brought for many different types of fatal accidents, including car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and product liability.  A legal action can be brought against an individual, a business, or a governmental entity based on allegations that the defendant acted negligently, failed to take the actions that were required by law, or intentionally acting in such a manner as to cause the death of another.

The complaint in this case stated that the Curators for the University of Missouri knew or should have known about the dangerous condition of the University Village Apartments and that the decedent would not have died if the property had been renovated and/or properly maintained.

The wife and child of the deceased firefighter stated that as a result of the alleged wrongful death, they have been deprived of the victim’s:

  • Companionship;
  • Services;
  • Instruction;
  • Guidance;
  • Training;
  • Comfort;
  • Counsel;
  • Consortium;
  • Love;
  • Society; and
  • Support.

Under the Wrongful Death Statute, damages are based upon the trier of fact’s determination about what is fair and just based on the loss of the loved one.  The determination involves an analysis of the economic impact of the loss, including wages and other benefits that would no longer be earned, medical expenses incurred as a result of the (ultimately) fatal event, funeral expenses, and other associated costs surrounding the death.  However, the trier of fact also is charged with assessing the non-economic loss that the family members left behind will experience over the long-term as the result of the wrongful death.  The various losses detailed above have to be assigned a reasonable value, which does factor in the age and career of the deceased.  There is no monetary value assessed for the grief and bereavement suffered by family members after the death of the victim.  (See section 537.090 of the Missouri Revised Statutes).

Unlike some other states, including Kansas, Missouri does not place a damages cap on most wrongful death cases.  There is a cap in place in medical malpractice cases.

When a family member has died as the result of the actions of someone else, it is difficult to understand the long-term impact that the loss will cause.  The compassionate and experienced Missouri Personal Injury Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP know how to get those left behind the compensation that they need to move forward without the support of their loved one.  We will fight for you while you grieve your loss.  Call us at (877) 535-1163 to discuss what happened to your loved one.

 

Wrongful Death Litigation in Missouri

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Wrongful death arises when a person dies suddenly due to another person’s negligence or recklessness. Customarily by law, only surviving family members of the deceased are given standing to file a wrongful death suit. Typically, in order to file a wrongful death claim, the elements that must first be established include, the death of a person, proof that the death was caused by another person’s negligence, family member(s) suffering as a result of the death, and the appointment of a personal representative for the deceased.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the primary measure of damages is determined by the pecuniary or financial injury imposed on the decedent’s family. Therefore, survivors of wrongful death victims are eligible to file a claim for damages, which may include, but not limited to, expenses for medical, hospital, funeral and burial needs, as well as compensation for pain and suffering. Other losses suffered by the decedent’s family may also be recoverable, such as, loss of financial support, service, and companionship, the prospect of inheritance, and parental guidance and upbringing.

The preeminent issue focused upon in wrongful death litigation is how the decedent’s survivors will be compensated for their losses. In order to ascertain financial losses of the surviving family members, considerations such as age, condition of the deceased, character, earning capacity, health and intelligence, life expectancy, as well as the circumstances of family members are commonly examined.

If the deceased was the breadwinner of the family or a steady wage earner, his or her loss of income and parental guidance will be the major elements considered by the jury for monetary recovery.  Additionally, the jury may also take into account the decedent’s income at the time of death, or if he/she is unemployed, the last known earnings, along with potential future earnings.

The amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit is usually determined by the weight of evidence presented at trial.  At times, a jury may adjust the size of the award based on the circumstances governed by evidence. For example, the award may be reduced if the decedent had poor earnings or had extravagant spending habits, even though he/she may have supported a large family or had great potential to advance in his/her career. Likewise, a jobless decedent may be awarded lost earnings if his/her average earnings, while still employed, can be presented to the jury as evidence. In addition to this, survivors of the deceased may also produce expert witnesses at trial to formulate and substantiate the value of the decedent to his family. Lastly, in calculating the final amount of the award, punitive damages may also be assessed and included in cases where serious or malicious wrongdoing caused the death of the victim, to prevent or deter others from engaging in similar acts.

By law there is a statute of limitations in place that provides a time limit within which a claim for wrongful death must be filed. However, there are certain limited circumstances where a claim can be filed after the expiration of the statute. This primarily occurs when the actual cause of death is unknown until after the statue of limitations has expired.

In all cases of wrongful death, no matter what the cause may be, it is imperative to be diligent in the preparation of a wrongful death suit. To prove the liability on the part of the defendant, it is absolutely necessary for the plaintiff to preserve all evidence that may support the claim, to examine the circumstances encompassing the wrongful death and the details of the incident itself, and to ensure the lawsuit is filed timely, within the time period set forth by the statute of limitations.

If you are seeking to pursue a wrongful death claim in Missouri, contact the Missouri wrongful death attorneys of Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP today at (816) 472-HOPE (4673), for more information on how to move forward with the legal process.  Our law firm has extensive experience and knowledge with wrongful death lawsuits, and can handle your case with the skill, care and diligence required for a successful outcome!

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Missouri: The Basics

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Unfortunately, accidents and negligent actions causing serious injuries or death can take place in a variety of ways.  Oftentimes, these situations can be incredibly traumatic and unexpected, especially when it involves the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another person or entity. Under such circumstances, survivors of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in order to compensate for their loss. The following is a basic overview of wrongful death actions:

What is a “wrongful death”? Generally speaking, wrongful death occurs when someone other than the deceased causes the loss of life as a result of negligence or due to preventable action, either intentional or unintentional.  Essentially, a wrongful death claim is a certain type of personal injury lawsuit. The range of accidents or actions that can lead to a wrongful death suit is broad, but the commonality of all such claims is the loss of life caused by another person or entity’s actions or lack thereof.  Wrongful death claims typically include:

  • Motor vehicle accident. The deceased could have been a driver or passenger in a vehicle, motorcyclist, pedestrian, or even a bicyclist that was hit by an automobile.
  • Workplace accident. This includes any incident that occurred on employment premises, or resulted from a workplace environment.
  • Product liability. This occurs when injury or illness is caused by a defect in a product.
  • Toxic tort. This cause of action is brought when exposure to a dangerous or toxic substance results in fatal injury.
  • Premises liability. Generally, this takes place when either a residential or commercial site is the cause of or leads to an injury.
  • Medical malpractice. This occurs when a healthcare provider or entity causes an error or a negligent act takes place resulting in injury.
  • Elder abuse. Such a claim is usually the result of negligence and injury inflicted upon an elder by a medical provider or caregiver.

Financial Compensation. There are three types of damages that are recoverable in wrongful death lawsuits—economic, non-economic, and punitive. Economic damages encompass the financial impact death has on a survivor, and typically includes medical expenses, loss of wages or benefits, as well as funeral costs for the deceased. Non-economic damages provide compensation for a survivor’s pain and suffering, and general loss of companionship, love, and care.  Lastly, punitive damages are essentially designed to punish a responsible party, and may not always be awarded. Typically, such damages are determined case by case.

Legal Advice and Representation. One very important aspect of the process to consider is time. It is commonly an issue that many families face when pursuing a wrongful death claim. If a lawsuit is not brought within the legal time frame, a family may lose the window of opportunity to file. Each State has its own statute of limitations for wrongful death claims, granting a specific time period for families to pursue damages against the party(s) that caused the death. If a claim is not brought in time, the statute will automatically bar the lawsuit from proceeding. In addition to meeting the statutory time requirement, there are other legal issues that may be relevant to a particular case. For these reasons, it is advisable that families dealing with a potential wrongful death claim speak to an experienced legal professional that will be able to inform and guide them through the process. Each case requires a careful assessment and review of the circumstances to determine the compensation that may be available.

If you or a loved one is interested in filing a wrongful death suit, or you simply have questions regarding wrongful death law in the state of Missouri, call (816) 472-HOPE (4673) to contact our experienced Missouri wrongful death attorneys at the law offices of Hubbard & Kurtz today!