Compassionate Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys
Treating Missouri and Kansas families with dignity and grace after the loss of a loved one
After losing a loved one due to the negligence, mistakes, or reckless indifference of another party, survivors are left to not only deal with their grief but also address the legal ramifications of what happened. In many cases, substantial expenses and losses can accrue relating to the death. It is important for the family members of the deceased to consult with an experienced Kansas City wrongful death attorney who can provide guidance in this difficult time. We are here to help you navigate a wrongful death claim with sympathy and sensitivity for the traumatic experience you are going through.
At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we respect your need to mourn while also taking the steps necessary to investigate the accident and determine who is responsible. Our team works with investigators, traffic reconstruction experts, product safety professionals, and others throughout Missouri and Kansas to help show how a driver, doctor, property owner, and others caused your loved one to die. We have a strong track record of success in wrongful death claims, including a $1 million verdict on behalf of the parents who lost their three-year-old daughter, which was considered a record award nationwide at the time in a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for the death of a minor.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in Missouri or Kansas?
The wrongful death laws in Kansas and Missouri are similar but not identical. Both states permit wrongful death actions if anyone or any party causes the death of a loved one. Both states permit wrongful death lawsuits based on negligence, product defects, or medical malpractice.
Missouri's wrongful death statute provides that the following people can file the wrongful death claim and receive part of the damage award, in the following order:
- “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.”
- A brother or sister of the deceased (or the descendants of the brother or sister) if certain conditions apply.
- A “plaintiff ad litem” approved by the court.
In Kansas, the wrongful death statute provides that:
- Any of the heirs of the deceased who suffered a loss due to the loved one’s untimely death are entitled to file a claim, and to compensation.
- Kansas law also has specific rules regarding the rights of unborn children and the death of unborn children in wrongful death cases.
Heirs generally include the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, grandchildren, and other relatives such as siblings.
What damages can be awarded in a wrongful death claim?
In Missouri, wrongful death damages are set forth in the state law. Wrongful death damages are the damages the jury determines are fair and just. The damages can include:
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Loss of the loved one’s expected earnings
- Loss of benefits, including pension plans and medical coverage
- Loss of an inheritance
- The value of goods and services the loved one would have provided
- Mental anguish, pain, and suffering
- Loss of the care, protection, guidance, advice, training, and nurturing of the deceased
- Loss of love, society, and companionship
- Loss of consortium from a deceased spouse
Damages for grief and bereavement are not recoverable, but in some cases, you may be entitled to punitive damages.
If the deceased was not fully employed and did have at least 50 percent responsibility for a minor, disabled person, or person over 65, there is 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.”
If the deceased was under 18, there is a rebuttable presumption that their earnings would be the same as their parents, with some adjustment depending on the number of surviving parents.
Missouri does not cap wrongful death damages, unless the wrongful death claim is based on medical malpractice. In Kansas, non-pecuniary wrongful death damages cannot exceed $250,000. The pecuniary damages – meaning economic losses – have no cap. Juries are instructed to itemize their awards as follows:
- Nonpecuniary damages;
- expenses for the care of the deceased caused by the injury; and
- pecuniary damages other than those itemized under subsection (c)(2).
Where applicable, the amounts required to be itemized pursuant to subsections (c)(1) and (c)(3) shall be further itemized by the trier of fact to reflect those amounts awarded for injuries and losses sustained to date and those awarded for injuries and losses reasonably expected to be sustained in the future.
The total damages can include, but are not limited to:
- Economic damages
- Mental anguish, suffering, or bereavement
- Loss of society, companionship, comfort, or protection
- Loss of marital care, attention, advice, or counsel
- Loss of filial care or attention
- Loss of parental care, training, guidance, or education
- Reasonable funeral expenses for the deceased
Heirs may be entitled to recover expenses they paid for the care of the deceased caused by the wrongful accident.
There are strict time limits for when you can file a wrongful death claim. The best course of action is to speak with a skilled wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after your loved one was killed.
What are the common causes of fatal injuries?
Fatal injuries can be caused by any number of circumstances; sometimes, however, they are the direct result of another person or entity’s negligence. Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys handle wrongful death claims on behalf of families whose loved ones suffered fatal injuries from:
Why should I hire a Kansas City wrongful death lawyer?
In wrongful death cases, your loved one is not able to speak for themselves. For this reason, there are evidence laws that govern what the defendants can and cannot say about how the accident occurred. We know how critical it is to work with the police, investigators, witnesses, and experts so that the liability of the responsible defendants can be strongly established.
Our lawyers will also explain how issues such as the value of the loss of guidance of a child are presented and valued. We’ll also explain how the damages are usually apportioned among the various family members.
Talk with a seasoned Kansas City wrongful death lawyer today
Experience matters. Results matter. At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, our wrongful death lawyers understand how difficult wrongful death cases are. No amount of money can ever replace your loved one. Still, justice demands that the defendants who ended your loved one’s life should pay the maximum amount the laws permit. The insurance companies and defense lawyers may understand your grief – but that doesn’t mean they’re nice. They will try to deny your claim or pay as little as possible.
To speak with experienced Kansas City-based strong wrongful death lawyers, please call 816-471-5111 or fill out our contact form. We can also meet with you at our offices in Lee's Summit, Parkville, and St. Joseph, MO, as well as in Overland Park or Olathe, KS by appointment only.