What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful Death is a civil action that is brought against a party who has, through negligence or knowingly, caused the death of another person. The suit is brought to recover damages that have arisen due to the untimely death of the individual. It is brought by the family members and dependents of the deceased.


If your loved one has died in a preventable accident (negligent) or because of a wrongful act (knowingly) you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek monetary compensation. Wrongful death suits can be difficult to prove, so working with an experienced personal injury attorney, like the attorneys of The Popham Law Firm, is critical. If you are in the Kansas City Missouri area, you may need to consult with the city’s leading Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys.


Missouri Law is on Your Side


Pursuing a wrongful death case is not revenge. Rather it is a way to recognize that because of a death, people have suffered and will suffer in the future because of that loss. Though replacing the person is not possible, Missouri law acknowledges that the death has created a loss that may be able to be compensated monetarily. For example if the person who was killed or died was the main breadwinner for their family and other dependents, that loss of income can be calculated and awarded as compensation.


According to Chapter 537 of Missouri’s Torts and Actions for Damages statues, RSMo 537.080.1, wrongful death results from an act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled the deceased to negligence damages from the liable person, party, or corporation.


Elements of a Successful Wrongful Death Claim in Missouri


The law requires all persons to act in a reasonably careful manner to avoid foreseeable harm to others. To prove that a person did not act in such a manner, under Missouri law, there are certain elements that you must prove in your wrongful death suit. Four elements you must demonstrate to win a wrongful death suit are:


1.    The Defendant Owed a Duty of Care to the Deceased Party.


You must show that the defendant had a duty to use care toward the deceased that a reasonable and prudent person would have exercised to protect them from unnecessary harm. Basically, the duty of care means the responsibility not todo something that would harm another person. The duty of care is to act in a way that would keep others safe or to abstain from acting in a way that would potentially harm another.

For example, a Kansas City driver has a duty to obey traffic laws, such as speed limits, stopping at red lights, and driving with attentiveness to other drivers and others they share the roadways with. As a second example, physicians owe their patients accurate and quality medical care.


2.    The Defendant Breached Their Duty of Care.


The second element you must prove is that the defendant breached their duty of care. A person breaches their duty of care when they fail to behave with the same level of care that a reasonable person would exercise or be expected to exercise in the same situation.


For example, driving under the influence of alcohol is an example of a breach of care. A second example is it is a breach of care if medical professionals fail to order adequate tests or administer the wrong drugs.


3.    The Breach of Duty of Care Caused the Death.        


Next, you must show that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the death of your loved one. It is not enough that the defendant breached a duty to your loved one. To be found negligent or at fault, it must be shown that their breach of duty to your loved one caused his or her death. 


For example, if the defendant was speeding and hit and killed another driver, you must prove that the speeding caused the accident and death. Similarly, if your family member was killed by a product that malfunctioned, the manufacturer of the product might be liable in a wrongful death action.


4.    Suffered Damages.


Finally, you must prove that the bringer of the lawsuit suffered damages as a result of the death. Damages refer to the financial compensation that you are seeking, such as loss of financial support, loss of companionship, mental anguish, lost inheritance, and funeral costs. The damages must be quantifiable, and you must show that the amount of money you are seeking is justified based on your losses. Your attorney will work with you to calculate your damages.


Types of Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim


According to Missouri’s wrongful death statute, RSMo 537.090, surviving members of the decedent are entitled to the following:

  • Medical, doctor, and hospital bills incurred prior to death
  • Funeral expenses and services
  • Compensation for the reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support associated with the death
  • Compensation for the suffering the deceased experienced between injury and death


Your Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys – The Popham Law Firm


If you have questions about wrongful death lawsuits, you should reach out to the experienced and caring Kansas City personal injury attorneys of The Popham Law Firm as soon as possible. We will evaluate your case and provide the best possible representation.


Contact us at 844-243-2288 for a free consultation to discover how we help people like you face the future with the settlement you need and the recognition you deserve for the loss you have suffered.

Get the settlement you need—and the recognition you deserve.