The law allows surviving family members to pursue financial compensation for losing a loved one through a wrongful death claim. Even though money can’t undo your loved one’s passing, it can help provide your family with some measure of closure and justice.
For more than 20 years, Mann Wyatt Tanksley Injury Attorneys has worked tirelessly to advocate for the rights of families in complex wrongful death cases. Our respected criminal death lawyers understand families’ emotional and financial burdens. We will use our extensive legal knowledge, close relationships with industry-leading experts, vast firm resources, and litigation experience to aggressively pursue the outcome your family deserves.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation with one of our wrongful death attorneys. Our firm purposely limits the number of cases we handle at any one time so that we can provide your family with the personalized attention you deserve.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Every state has its laws governing wrongful death claims. Each state’s law specifies a person or class entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit following a person’s death. People who may file a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Kansas: A surviving spouse, any surviving child (including legally adopted children), a surviving parent or grandparent, or a surviving sibling.
- Missouri: A surviving spouse, a surviving descendant (including legally adopted children), or a surviving parent. If the decedent had no surviving spouse, descendants, or parents, then a surviving sibling. If the decedent has no surviving siblings, then the personal representative of the decedent’s estate or a personal representative appointed by the court.
- Oklahoma: The personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If none exists, then a personal representative is appointed by the court.
- Colorado: Only a surviving spouse may file in the first year following the decedent’s death. After that, any surviving children (including legally adopted children) may file. A surviving parent may file if the decedent has no surviving spouse or children. The decedent’s estate representative may also file a “survival” action to recover the estate’s losses.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
Although no money can truly make up for the loss you’ve suffered, compensation for the financial and personal losses caused by your loved one’s passing may provide your family with some accountability and justice. The damages that may be compensated in a wrongful death claim vary depending on a particular state’s laws. However, in most cases, a wrongful death claim can recover compensation for damages such as:
- The loss of the decedent’s companionship, guidance, love, and society
- The loss of the reasonable value of the decedent’s services to the family and household
- The loss of financial contributions and other benefits the decedent was reasonably expected to contribute to the family and household.
In addition, damages suffered by the decedent and their estate that can be compensated in wrongful death claims include:
- Costs of medical treatment for the fatal injury or illness
- Lost wages for time missed from work between the decedent’s final injury or illness and their death
- Pain and suffering experienced by the decedent while conscious before death
- Funeral and burial expenses
These damages are often referred to as “survival” claims.
Some states cap the amount of non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, grief, or loss of a decedent’s companionship) that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim. For example, Kansas places a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages, and Missouri caps non-economic damages at $700,000 in criminal death cases arising from medical malpractice.
Finally, in some states, a decedent’s surviving family may be awarded punitive damages in rare cases where the responsible party acted egregiously to cause the death.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death
Each state’s wrongful death statute limits families’ time to file a lawsuit to pursue compensation. Statutes of limitation on wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Kansas: Two years from the decedent’s death
- Missouri: Three years from the decedent’s death
- Oklahoma: Two years from the decedent’s death
- Colorado: Two years from the decedent’s death
If you fail to file a wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires on your claim, the court will likely permanently dismiss your case, and you will lose the right to pursue compensation in court.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death can occur from any accident that typically gives rise to a personal injury claim. For that reason, a wrongful death claim is often thought of as a claim that a decedent could have brought if they survived the wrongfully inflicted fatal injury or illness. Common causes of wrongful death cases include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Boat accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Workplace accidents
If your family has lost a loved one due to one of these or another accident caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, our firm may be able to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation with a wrongful death attorney.
How Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help You
Grieving a family member is already a challenging emotional experience. But knowing that your loved one’s death was caused by someone else can make the pain that much more intense. It would help if you did not have the added burden of pursuing a legal claim for compensation from those at fault for your family member’s death. At Mann Wyatt Tanksley Injury Attorneys, our wrongful death lawyers can help you demand justice by:
- Investigating the circumstances of your loved one’s passing to identify who is at fault for your loved one’s death
- Working with expert witnesses, including accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, and financial experts, to build a strong, persuasive legal case that your family is entitled to compensation
- Filing claims for compensation with at-fault parties and their insurance companies (where applicable) and aggressively pursuing a negotiated settlement on your behalf
- Preparing your case for trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached
Contact Mann Wyatt Tanksley Injury Attorneys today to learn about your legal rights in a free initial consultation with a wrongful death lawyer. Our firm does not charge fees upfront to work on criminal death cases. You only pay us if we recover money for you.