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How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work in Missouri?

Losing a loved one is an unimaginable hardship, and when that loss comes from someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, the pain is compounded with an urgent need for justice. A Missouri wrongful death lawsuit can provide some measure of relief and accountability for your profound loss.

The complex and sensitive nature of Missouri wrongful death claims demands a compassionate yet determined ally. Holland Injury Law stands ready to guide you through this difficult time, aiding in your journey toward justice and closure. 

How Does Missouri Define a Wrongful Death?

According to Missouri law, a wrongful death is any death that occurs due to someone else’s negligent or intentional actions or failure to act. Basically, if someone dies because of something another party did or failed to do, their surviving family may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. (“Grounds” is the legal term for justification or cause.)

We can illustrate this principle using one of the most unfortunately common causes of wrongful death claims: Fatal car accidents. For example, if someone dies in a collision caused by a drunk driver, their surviving family could sue the impaired driver. That’s because all Missouri drivers have a legal duty to follow traffic laws and drive safely. By not following the law, the impaired driver put others on the road in danger, making them liable for the resulting death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri?

Missouri’s wrongful death law lists three groups who can file a claim after a family member’s death. The first is the deceased’s surviving spouse, any surviving parents, or any surviving children. They are first in line to file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased had no surviving spouse, parents, or children, then their surviving siblings or their siblings’ children are next in line. However, surviving siblings or their children must prove their family member’s death hurt them in some way before they can file a claim.

Finally, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate (sometimes called the “executor” of the estate) can file a claim if no other eligible family members exist. The courts can name a personal representative if the deceased did not name one in their will. Anyone wishing to serve as the personal representative must show they are eligible to recover compensation from the deceased’s estate.

Compensation from a Missouri Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim allows you to pursue compensation for many losses you or the deceased sustained, including:

  • Funeral and Burial Expenses
  • Loss of the Deceased’s Income and Benefits
  • The Deceased’s Pain and Suffering
  • The Deceased’s Medical Expenses


Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri

Unlike some states, Missouri has a deadline to file a wrongful death lawsuit that’s distinct from the deadline for other personal injury cases. The Missouri wrongful death statute of limitations says you must file a lawsuit within three years of the deceased’s death date. If you don’t file a lawsuit by then, the courts will not hear your case, and you will lose your right to seek compensation through the court system.

Contact Our Missouri Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

While we know you want justice after a family member’s death, we also know this is a challenging time for you. The Clayton, Missouri, wrongful death lawyers at Holland Injury Law can take care of the legal work in your case and champion your rights while you focus on healing. Call us today at (314) 888-7888 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

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