The wrongful death of a loved one is perhaps the most devastating outcome of a serious accident. Aside from the physical, emotional, and financial turmoil faced after a fatal accident, the loss of life is a permanent and painful reminder of a tragedy that could have been prevented.
In the United States, unintentional injuries accounted for over 130,000 wrongful deaths in 2015—the 4th leading cause of death in that year. A family impacted by the wrongful death of a loved one may respond to their loss with grief, and perhaps a sense of hopelessness, as they face large medical expenses, funeral arrangements, and legal worries.
At Wagstaff & Cartmell, our team of compassionate wrongful death attorneys is fully committed to helping you and your family members through this trying time so that you can focus on what is most important—recovery.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim, and Who Can File a Claim?
Going far beyond what happens when a personal injury claim is made, when a loved one dies as a result of an accident caused by negligence, or malicious actions, the family or estate of the deceased can bring forward a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. The purpose of such a claim is for the family or estate of the deceased to receive compensation for the losses sustained due to the death of their loved one. These losses may include funeral expenses, punitive damages, loss of wages/support, emotional damages, and more.
Filing A Wrongful Death Claim In Kansas City
One of the things that make Kansas City so special is that it is a city that sits on land in two states at the same time, Kansas and Missouri. Because of this, wrongful death lawsuits will be handled differently depending on which state is handling the wrongful death claim.
Depending on where your case will be handled, the filing of the claim will be different. Any “heirs of the deceased” can file the claim in Kansas. That could be siblings, parents, children, or a spouse. In Kansas, the family has up to two years to file the wrongful death claim. There is also a cap of $250,000 for non-economic damage on this type of claim in Kansas. That means you can only claim up to $250,000 for something such as pain and suffering.
In Missouri, the surviving spouse is the first party with the right to file a wrongful death claim. If there is no surviving spouse, surviving adult children or grandchildren can file a claim. If none of these exist, then surviving siblings may file a claim. Under Missouri law, there is a statute of limitations of up to three years to file a wrongful death claim. The cap for non-economic damages is also a little bit higher in Missouri at $350,000. It is adjusted every year for inflation.
This all, of course, means that you need an attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of all the differences in the laws between the two states. Not just any Kansas City lawyer is going to do.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
There are a number of reasons for which a wrongful death claim can be brought forward. These may include:
- Car Accidents
- Product Liability
- Train Accidents
- Boat Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Premises Liability
- Nursing Home Accidents Or Mistreatment
- Medical Malpractice
- Workplace Accidents
Whenever wrongful death cases are brought forward, the amount of the damages that will be awarded is typically calculated based on if the damages are pecuniary (readily quantifiable) or non-pecuniary (not readily quantifiable). Some examples of these include:
|Pecuniary Damages||Non-Pecuniary Damages|
|Medical Bills & Funeral Costs||Emotional Distress (Pain and Suffering)|
|Loss of Income||Loss of Consortium|
|Loss of Benefits||Loss of Care/Advice from Deceased|
|Loss of an Inheritance||Loss of Companionship|
|Value of Goods & Services from Deceased|
Pecuniary Damages include things such as:
- Medical Bills & Funeral Costs
- Loss of Income
- Loss of Benefits
- Loss of an Inheritance
- Value of Goods & Services from Deceased
Non-Pecuniary damages include things such as:
- Emotional Distress (Pain and Suffering)
- Loss of Consortium
- Loss of Care/Advice from Deceased
- Loss of Companionship
There is also sometimes the possibility of an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded specifically as a punishment to the defendant. This type of damages is usually an amount of money awarded in cases showing gross negligence or some type of intentionally malicious behavior, or perhaps a wrongful death suit involving someone who was murdered.
How Do We Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim?
After a wrongful death claim is filed, the resulting litigation can be an emotionally and financially taxing endeavor. It is critical to turn to trusted wrongful death attorneys to represent your family’s interests and help recover compensation for your family’s pain and suffering.
For many wrongful death lawsuits involving vehicle accidents or medical malpractice, our job is to prove negligence on the defendant’s part—that is, prove that the other party’s reckless actions are responsible for the death of the deceased person. Typically, this is done by conducting an investigation and gathering evidence which proves the following:
- The defendant owed the deceased a duty;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The breach of duty caused the accident; and
- The death resulting in damages for the family or estate.
Once we have gathered evidence to support your claim, we will aggressively pursue justice and to ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable.
A full investigation into the death of your loved one’s death in an attempt to uncover the truth can be difficult. It’s difficult enough to accept that someone you love is gone, but it can be even harder to realize that their death was something that could have been prevented.
Filing a civil wrongful death claim against the responsible party can help provide closure for the surviving family, but we all know that it’s not just some form of getting back at someone because you lost a beloved member of your family. At the law firm of Wagstaff & Cartmell, we realize that, unfortunately, when someone dies, things can become expensive. A wrongful death lawsuit can help you and your family members recover financial compensation for things such as medical expenses, funeral preparation, burial or cremation costs, and yes, for the pain and suffering that you are feeling, too.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim Today
We know that deciding to pursue a wrongful death claim is an important decision that must be made at a difficult time. At Wagstaff & Cartmell, the entire team at our law office with deal with you honestly and compassionately.
You can contact us online anytime or call (816) 701-1100 to schedule an appointment, you’ll receive a free consultation as well as a full and free case evaluation. We’ll be happy to go over all the details of your case and discuss exactly what we can to help you.