When negligence or reckless indifference to the safety of others results in a wrongful death, the personal injury attorneys at Monsees & Mayer, P.C. are here to help families seek compensation for the loss of their loved one.

Our experienced attorneys address the emotional and financial effect on families who have suffered a tragic loss. We look at the value of lost income, damage to the family as a group, and the grief, bereavement, and emotional pain and suffering they have been subjected to.

Our efforts to discover the negligence behind the cause of a fatal accident involve working with investigators, accident reconstruction experts, and other specialists in engineering, manufacturing, forensics, and medicine.

When is a Death Wrongful?

Unintentional injuries occur everyday, and the laws surrounding the resulting deaths are constantly evolving. In Kansas and Missouri alone, wrongful death laws have gone through significant changes in just the last 25 years. Both states have attempted to eliminate injustices within the wrongful death statutes through amendments. For example, Kansas has raised the cap on non-pecuniary damages, and Missouri has amended its statute to include a broader list of parties who can bring the wrongful death suits.

While the statutes in the two states do have similarities, their differences are significant and can be a source of difficulty.

Having a compassionate attorney on your family’s team during such difficult times can make the process that much easier to go through. Monsees & Mayer, P.C. will fight to hold negligent parties accountable and get your loved ones the compensation they deserve.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases we Handle

Monsees & Mayer, P.C. has built a reputation for providing exemplary legal representation focused on protecting your rights, while holding drivers, pilots, health care professionals, manufacturers, employers, and other corporations liable for their careless behavior.

We provide assistance in a range of cases, including:

Who can be Sued for Wrongful Death?

All parties with liability, including insurance companies, healthcare providers, and corporations, are accountable in a wrongful death lawsuit. While they may appear to have endless resources at their disposal, our attorneys work with teams of experts and specialists to build a case using the latest technologies and available data on accident causes and effects. We know how to confidently prepare and present wrongful death cases that effectively convince juries and judges to deliver favorable outcomes.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death impacts many different people. By law, only certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This varies state to state:

Who Can file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?

The proper parties to bring a cause of action for wrongful death in Missouri are enumerated in V.A.M.S. 537.080:

RSMO 537.080

Whenever the death of a person results from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstances which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof, the person or party who, or the corporation which, would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable in any action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, which damages may be sued for:

1. By the spouse or children or the surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children, natural or adopted, legitimate or illegitimate, or by the father or mother of the deceased, natural or adoptive;

Children

This has been expanded to include the decedent’s adult children. Stepchildren are excluded from this categorization– they are allowed to testify as to the significance of their relationship with the decedent, but cannot take part in the recovery.

However, when the child will suffer great financial detriment, Missouri allows for something known as equitable adoption. Where applicable, the date of adoption relates back, allowing the child to take part in a wrongful death action.

Spouses

Unlike Kansas, Missouri does not recognize common law marriage, so only those who were legally married to the decedent are allowed to recover. In both states, any evidence that the surviving spouse has since remarried is not allowed to be introduced as a mitigating circumstance in the wrongful death action.

Parents

All parents, married or otherwise, and regardless of custody or legitimacy of the child (excluding situations where parental rights have been terminated), have priority over all other potential parties to file suit for the wrongful death of an unmarried, childless, minor child. However, if paternity is in question, it must be proven before the settlement can be approved and apportioned.

2. If there be no persons in class (1) entitled to bring the action, then by the brother or sister of the deceased, or their descendants, who can establish his or her right to those damages set out in section 537.090 because of the death;

Siblings

When there is no eligible party in the first category to bring the suit, it can be properly brought by a brother or sister of the decedent or their descendants.This includes all brothers and sisters, except of course those that are stepsiblings.

3. If there be no persons in class (1) or (2) entitled to bring the action, then by a plaintiff ad litem. Such plaintiff ad litem shall be appointed by the court having jurisdiction over the action for damages provided in this section upon application of some person entitled to share in the proceeds of such action. Such plaintiff ad litem shall be some suitable person competent to prosecute such action and whose appointment is requested on behalf of those persons entitled to share in the proceeds of such action. Such court may, in its discretion, require that such plaintiff ad litem give bond for the faithful performance of his duties.

Who can file a wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kansas?

Kansas’s outlines plaintiff’s rights for wrongful death in K.S.A. 60-1902:

KSA 60-1902

The action may be commenced by any one of the heirs at law of the deceased who has sustained a loss by reason of the death. Any heir who does not join as a party plaintiff in the original action but who claims to have been damaged by reason of the death shall be permitted to intervene therein. The action shall be for the exclusive benefit of all of the heirs who has sustained a loss regardless or whether they all join or intervene therein, but the amounts of their respective recoveries shall be in accordance with the subsequent provisions of this article.

Kansas’ Definition of “Heir”

Although the Kansas statute seems less restrictive than Missouri’s, the use of the term “heir” shows that it is not. “Heir” refers to “one who takes by intestate succession under the Kansas statutes.” When a Kansas decedent leaves a surviving spouse and/or child, Kansas rules of intestate succession exclude parents or siblings as heirs.

The intestate succession laws in Kansas do not give parents and children the same priority and rights in wrongful death actions as they would receive in Missouri. In Kansas, when the parental rights have been severed, neither the parent of a decedent child nor the child of a decedent parent has standing to bring a wrongful death action.

This is unlike the law in Missouri where a biological relationship, regardless of parental rights and custody, allows a parent to bring the wrongful death action of a decedent child and vice versa. In Kansas the argument supporting the statute is that the wrongful death action is intended to compensate those harmed by the wrongful death of decedent, and if the only relationship that exists is biological then there cannot be any real harm.

Compensation & Damages

Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit fall into two categories:

  • Non-pecuniary damages, which account for the loss of the decedent’s presence in the life of the individual(s) filing a wrongful death action.
  • Pecuniary damages, which relate to a loss of money, or something by which money or something of value may be acquired.

In Missouri, in addition to survival damages, damages are recoverable for pecuniary loss, funeral expenses, and the reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support that the deceased provided.

At this time and in contrast with the Kansas statute, there is no dollar limit on recovery in a wrongful death claim in Missouri. However, there is a cap on wrongful death damages recoverable in a suit against a healthcare provider.

In June of 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s cap on damages for non-economic injuries for personal injury lawsuits as unconstitutional. It is unclear whether this will apply to wrongful death caps as well.

Time Limits for Wrongful Death Claims

In Kansas, a cause of action for wrongful death has a statute of limitations of two years after the date of death.

In Missouri, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is three years. If the death was a result from medical malpractice, the statute is two years.

Survival Action

A survival action is a way for the decedent’s estate to receive compensation for damages they would have received had they not passed away. Each state has their own statutes for how a survival action can be filed.

In Missouri, all of the elements of damages may be recovered in a single action, including survival damages. Among these damages are expenses for the last illness including lost earnings and medical bills, as well as conscious pain and suffering the decedent may have suffered between the onset of injury and death.

In Kansas, two separate and distinct causes of action arise when death results from negligence; a survival action, K.S.A. 60-1801, and a wrongful death action, K.S.A. 60-1901.

Find Justice Today

If your family has been the victim of a fatal car accident, drunk driver fatality, medical mistake, or other wrongful death, you deserve to find justice today. Contact the experienced attorneys of Monsees & Mayer, P.C. and discover how we can help your family hold the guilty accountable and recover fair compensation for the loss of a loved one.

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