The death of a loved one causes an emotional and often financial impact that can be devastating, and often forever changes the family's dynamics. While the emotional and psychological impact are immense, if the loss is of the family “breadwinner” the long term financial impact can often be even more destructive, resulting in a permanent change of course for the family that can affect multiple generations. Whether it is the death of an adult or a child, the loss of someone we care about is made even more painful with the knowledge that it was due to someone else’s negligence.
At the office of Brad Bradshaw, MD, JD, LC, our goal is to help families find the answers they need and take swift action to hold the responsible parties accountable. Cases involving the wrongful death of a loved one can be extremely complex cases to pursue. The emotional toll of pursuing these cases can be almost as upsetting for the decedent's families as the death itself. You need an attorney not only with knowledge and sophistication, but also with the compassion to understand what a truly difficult experience this is. The office of Brad Bradshaw, MD, JD, LC can help you navigate our complex legal system and obtain the best possible results during this already difficult time in your life.
There are strict time limits in which a claim for damages and personal injury can be brought against a negligent party. These time limits are often called "Statute of Limitations". This means that after the incident you only have a certain amount of time in which to file a lawsuit. After that time, your right to file a claim is waived. These statutes vary from state to state, and can vary depending on the circumstances of the claim. If you believe you may have a potential claim, you should seek the assistance of a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
Things You Should Know
Different states permit different individuals to bring an action for wrongful death, and allow for different elements of recovery. As an example, portions of Missouri’s 2014 wrongful death statute are set out below.
Who may bring the action:
1. Whenever the death of a person results from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance 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 an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, which damages may be sued for:
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;
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;
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.
2. Only one action may be brought under this section against any one defendant for the death of any one person.
The damages to be considered by the jury:
In every action brought under section 537.080, the trier of the facts may give to the party or parties entitled thereto such damages as the trier of the facts may deem fair and just for the death and loss thus occasioned, having regard to the pecuniary losses suffered by reason of the death, funeral expenses, and the reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support of which those on whose behalf suit may be brought have been deprived by reason of such death and without limiting such damages to those which would be sustained prior to attaining the age of majority by the deceased or by the person suffering any such loss.
In addition, the trier of the facts may award such damages as the deceased may have suffered between the time of injury and the time of death and for the recovery of which the deceased might have maintained an action had death not ensued. The mitigating or aggravating circumstances attending the death may be considered by the trier of the facts, but damages for grief and bereavement by reason of the death shall not be recoverable. If the deceased was not employed full time and was at least fifty percent responsible for the care of one or more minors or disabled persons, or persons over sixty-five years of age, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the value of the care provided, regardless of the number of persons cared for, is equal to one hundred and ten percent of the state average weekly wage, as computed under section 287.250.
If the deceased is under the age of eighteen, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the annual pecuniary losses suffered by reason of the death shall be calculated based on the annual income of the deceased's parents, provided that if the deceased has only one parent earning income, then the calculation shall be based on such income, but if the deceased had two parents earning income, then the calculation shall be based on the average of the two incomes.