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Accidental Death

Accidental Death

Did you recently lose a loved one due to a fatal accident in Missouri or Wisconsin? You might have grounds for a wrongful death case. While no amount of money could ever make up for your loss, pursuing a wrongful death claim allows your family to demand accountability and the financial support you need. At the Law Offices of Phillip A. Tatlow, LLC, our fatal accident attorneys based in St. Louis are here to help.

From collecting evidence to speaking on your behalf in court, our wrongful death legal counsel will strive to secure the compensation your family deserves. We understand the emotional toll of your loss and are prepared to handle every aspect of your case so you have the breathing room to grieve properly. Reach out to us now for your initial consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.

How Does Missouri & Wisconsin Define Accidental or Wrongful Death?

Under both Missouri law and Wisconsin law, a wrongful or accidental death occurs when someone dies as a result of someone else’s actions or failure to act. It’s helpful to think of a wrongful death case as a type of personal injury case that the injured party is no longer available to pursue. In other words, if the deceased could have taken someone to court for their injuries had they survived, their loved ones can pursue a wrongful death case on their behalf.

It’s worth noting that wrongful death cases are different from criminal homicide cases in several ways. In a criminal homicide case, the government charges someone with a crime because they caused someone else’s death. This could lead to jail time or other penalties if they’re found guilty. Wrongful death cases, on the other hand, are civil lawsuits. They don’t aim to punish the wrongdoer with jail time. Instead, they focus on getting compensation for the deceased person’s family. This compensation can cover things like funeral costs, lost income, and the pain of losing a loved one. So, while both types of cases deal with preventable deaths, they serve different purposes and follow different rules.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim can arise in any situation where negligence or wrongdoing leads to someone’s death. Here are some common causes of wrongful death in Missouri and Wisconsin:

  • Car Accidents: When drivers ignore traffic laws, drive under the influence, or text while driving, deadly crashes can happen. These accidents are the leading causes of wrongful death claims.
  • Medical Malpractice: Sometimes doctors or nurses make serious mistakes, like misdiagnosing a condition or giving the wrong medication. These errors can lead to a patient’s untimely death.
  • Workplace Accidents: In places like construction sites and factories, not following safety regulations can lead to fatal accidents. Workplace falls, machinery accidents and exposure to harmful substances are common contributing factors in wrongful death claims.
  • Product Defects: If a defective car part, toy, or household product kills someone, their surviving loved ones might have grounds to hold the manufacturer responsible in a wrongful death case.
  • Criminal Acts: If someone dies as a result of a criminal act, like assault or robbery, the perpetrator can face a wrongful death lawsuit in addition to criminal charges.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Only certain people have the right to file a wrongful death case according to Missouri law. In order of priority, these individuals include the following:

  • Spouses and Children: The deceased’s spouse and children have first priority for filing wrongful death claims. This includes both natural and adopted children. If the deceased’s children are no longer alive, their children (the deceased’s grandchildren) can file the claim.
  • Parents: The biological or adoptive parents of the deceased can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This gives parents the right to seek justice for the loss of their child.
  • Siblings: If the deceased has no living spouse, children, or parents who can file the claim, then the deceased’s brothers or sisters have the right to sue for wrongful death. This right extends to the deceased’s nieces and nephews if the deceased’s siblings have passed away.
  • A Plaintiff ad Litem: If the deceased did not leave behind any surviving members of their immediate family, the court can appoint a plaintiff ad Litem to bring a wrongful death claim. A plaintiff ad litem represents the interests of those entitled to compensation from the wrongful death case. This person takes action on behalf of the deceased’s estate and ensures that any compensation is distributed fairly among those who have a legal right to it.

The similar laws apply to the state of Wisconsin. The spouse/domestic partner of the deceased has the right to claim first and foremost. Then, the ability to recover compensation falls to the children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and siblings of the deceased.

Wrongful Death Compensation in Missouri and Wisconsin

When surviving family members file a wrongful death claim, they can seek financial support for their loss. This can include compensation for things like:

  • Lost Wages and Support: The money the deceased would have earned and used to support their family, including financial contributions they might have provided until their retirement
  • Funeral Costs: Expenses for funeral, burial, or crematory services for the deceased
  • Lost Services: Practical services the deceased would have provided, like home maintenance
  • Loss of Relationship Benefits: The emotional and social support the deceased would have provided, including love, companionship, and moral support
  • Guidance and Training: The advice, education, and training the deceased would have given to their children or dependents
  • Suffering of the Deceased: Any pain and suffering the deceased experienced from the time of injury until their untimely death
  • Loss of Care Services: The value of the deceased’s care services if they were primarily responsible for caring for minors or disabled or elderly family members
  • Loss of Child: The deceased’s potential contribution to the family (assessed based on the parents’ income) if the deceased was a minor at the time of death

Is There a Deadline for Wrongful Death Litigation in Wisconsin and Missouri?

If you know or suspect you have a St. Louis wrongful death lawsuit, you’ll need to act quickly because state law imposes a strict filing deadline for these claims. In both Missouri and Wisconsin, you have three years from the date of your loved one’s death to start your lawsuit. If you wait too long and miss this deadline, you could permanently lose the chance to file a claim seeking compensation for your loss.

Due to the unforgiving nature of this filing deadline, it’s important to contact a fatal injury attorney as soon as possible. They can help you understand your rights, gather necessary evidence before it deteriorates, and file your claim promptly to ensure that you meet the relevant deadline.

Why You Need Wrongful Death Legal Representation

With the help of a wrongful death attorney in Wisconsin or Missouri, you can focus on healing while they take care of securing the justice and compensation your family deserves. A fatal accident lawyer knows exactly how to handle these types of cases and navigate the complex legal system to support your claim. Here are some ways a fatal injury attorney can help you with your wrongful death claim:

  • Evaluating your situation to determine whether you have a case
  • Gathering evidence to support your claim
  • Investigating the accident scene to gather more information
  • Consulting financial experts to estimate future losses
  • Interviewing witnesses who saw the fatal incident
  • Calculating the financial impact of your loss
  • Consulting medical experts to understand the cause of death
  • Filing your wrongful death claim within Missouri’s legal deadlines
  • Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf
  • Representing you in court if the case goes to trial

Contact a Wrongful Death Law Firm in Missouri or Wisconsin

If you would like to speak to a knowledgeable professional about your legal options, reach out to our wrongful death law firm now, servicing clients in the states of Missouri and Wisconsin. Our wrongful death can evaluate your case and answer all your questions in an initial consultation.

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