The loss of a loved one is devastating — especially when the tragic events were unexpected and caused by the negligence of another. Our attorneys often seek justice for victims of motor vehicle crashes, medical negligence and construction fatalities. We understand that, regardless of the circumstances behind your loss, you must weigh the challenges versus the benefits of bringing a wrongful death claim.
Explore Casey, Devoti & Brockland’s breakdown on the burden of justice, the value of wrongful death lawsuit cases and the steps ahead of one who suffered the death of a loved one because of another’s negligence.
The Burden of Justice
While the damages for wrongful death cases may be beneficial, these cases are complicated to pursue. The legal process comes with many financial and emotional burdens attached. Financially, a wrongful death claim will involve the costs of hiring an attorney, conducting a thorough investigation of circumstances surrounding the death, retaining experts and filing suit. However, many would argue the emotional toll is greater than any financial cost associated with pursuing the matter.
Our attorneys work with family members who feel an overwhelming need to hold the responsible party accountable. Without justice, they cannot find closure. Others cannot handle the emotions that come with reliving a loss for years on end. They would prefer to end this chapter and start healing from their grief.
The decision to pursue wrongful death lawsuit cases stems from individual motivations. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer. As attorneys, we are simply here to help you understand how a wrongful death claim holds others accountable for their actions and puts your family back on their feet.
Wrongful death cases cover many of the same elements that other personal injury cases cover. Economic damages for wrongful death may include medical bills, lost wages and funeral and burial expenses. Unlike other areas of personal injury law, wrongful death cases maintain a tangible difference in the payout.
The surviving spouse and children miss years of economic support due to their loss. When supported by the evidence, juries will often award substantially larger amounts in wrongful death lawsuit cases. A large payout is intended to help the surviving members of their family, especially those who relied on the deceased for financial and emotional support.
We consider two perspectives when calculating noneconomic damages: the experience of the family after their loss and the experience of the victim before their death.
The family lost qualities their loved one brought to the table. The spouse lost a companion and life partner, the children lost parental guidance throughout their lives and the entire family experienced harm resulting from the absence of the services and support the deceased provided. In wrongful death lawsuit cases, the judge or jury needs to see how the loss has a lasting impact. As a result, we may ask family members to testify as to what this person meant to them.
On the other hand, the victim may have experienced immeasurable pain and suffering in their final moments. Consider a person involved in a car crash. They may have bled to death due to their injuries or suffered for some time in the hospital before passing. Their experience would be undoubtedly painful. While the deceased victim cannot attest to this, our attorneys use witnesses who observed the moments between the event and the deceased’s death to show damages for wrongful death in court.
To help determine the value of loss in wrongful death lawsuit cases, we bring the following parties to the stand:
- Third Party Witnesses. These people were present at the moment of injury. These witnesses can talk about what they saw and how the injury immediately affected the deceased.
- First Responders. Our attorney ask what injuries they observed and how they attempted to save the victim’s life.
- Physicians and Nurses. We ask these professionals to share their observations of the victim throughout their hospitalization.
- Friends and Family. Those close to the family can attest to the moments after the news broke and the emotions they experienced afterward.
Factors that Impact Payout
Multiple factors will impact the final judgment and how funds are allocated between family members. For one, the judge and jury consider the relationship between the victim and their loved ones. Context is important here — the type and nature of the relationship will determine each person’s right to compensation.
The weight of each relationship changes as life progresses. If the victim was the parent of small children, the court may rule to compensate the children for decades of formative guidance and interaction. On the flip side, if the victim is elderly, their adult children miss out on fewer years of guidance — leading to lesser damages for wrongful death.
In wrongful death lawsuit cases, we examine the different levels of reliance family members have on one another. We consider how closely connected different family members were. Were their lives closely intertwined? Were they estranged? These factors ultimately impact the allocation of funds after a verdict.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney
Missouri’s wrongful death statute defines a three-year limit to file your case. That being said, time will be your most valuable asset moving forward. We urge you to take the first step by speaking with an attorney to determine the viability of your case.
Casey, Devoti & Brockland is prepared to handle any case involving the death of a loved one on your behalf. Contact an attorney to pursue damages for wrongful death today.