Morefield Speicher Bachman’s FAQ about wrongful death claims is intended to provide general guidance for people who have lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. It’s important to remember that every case is different and not all answers will apply to your claim. Read some of the questions below and for more information, visit our main page about wrongful death. When you’re ready, our attorneys and paralegals are available to talk with you more about your loved one and your loss.
FAQ – Wrongful Death Claims
What is a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful death is defined as a death resulting from the willful or negligent act of another person or persons. If an individual is killed because of the wrongful conduct of another party, the deceased person’s heirs or other beneficiaries have a right to file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims are separate from criminal charges, and neither proceeding influences the other claim.
Who can bring a wrongful death claim?
A claim for wrongful death can be brought by a beneficiary or heir for an intentional or unintentional act that led to a death. The people who are authorized under the law to file a wrongful death claim are determined by their relationship to the deceased, starting with a spouse, then children or parents, then other immediate family members, financial dependents or common law spouse.
What types of damages can be recovered if I file a claim?
If you wish to file a wrongful death case, you will likely be claiming both economic and noneconomic losses. Examples of economic harm or loss include medical bills, funeral expenses, and/or lost income as these are tangible and quantifiable. There is no limit or cap on the recovery of these types of damages.
An example of a noneconomic harm would be “pain and suffering” or “loss of care, comfort or companionship.” Although these harms are often felt more intensely than even the financial harms, they are not tangible harms. It is difficult to put a value on the care and companionship you received from your loved one, or to measure the amount of your pain and suffering. Both Kansas and Missouri laws set limits on the amounts that can be recovered for these losses.
Who decides if a wrongful death settlement is appropriate or adequate?
The short answer is: the Judge. Once the trustee or designated family member and their wrongful death lawyer reach a settlement agreement on financial compensation, it is up to the Kansas or Missouri Court to approve the wrongful death settlement and divide the proceeds among the eligible heirs. In most cases, the heirs agree upon how any money received should be divided, and the Judge simply approves the agreement. But if the heirs cannot agree upon a distribution that is fair to all the eligible heirs, the Judge will schedule an evidentiary hearing to hear testimony, and then decide the amount each eligible heir will receive.