The wrongful death attorneys at Edelman & Thompson know that seeking compensation is often the furthest thing from your mind after a fatal accident claims the life of a loved one. We also know that no amount of money can turn back the clock and prevent this tragedy from happening. Seeking compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit is a vital action for many families, however. It is often crucial for surviving spouses and dependents to secure the compensation that will allow them to grieve without worrying about being ruined financially.
If your loved one was killed in an accident caused by another party’s negligence in Missouri or Kansas, contact our knowledgeable and compassionate wrongful death lawyers. As one of Kansas City’s most respected firms, our team is here to help your family through this difficult time. We will stand up for your family and will pursue the justice that your loved one deserves. We’ll also handle every aspect of your claim on your behalf, giving you and those close to you the time you need to grieve.
Edelman & Thompson has recovered more than $500 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Our lawyers will listen to you and will advise you of your legal options during a free consultation as soon as you call us or contact us online.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Most wrongful death actions require plaintiffs to prove the same four elements central to a negligence claim. The four elements include:
- Duty of Care — The defendant had an obligation to the victim to conduct themselves in a safe and reasonable manner.
- Breach of Duty — The defendant breached that duty of care by not conducting themselves in a safe and reasonable manner.
- Causation — The breach of duty caused the victim to suffer injuries.
- Damages — The victim’s injuries resulted in compensable damages.
Proving another party’s negligence will usually require some kind of evidence of their alleged act. You will want to make sure you are working with a skilled attorney who can collect and preserve all of the evidence in your case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Kansas, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by any heir at law of the deceased. In most cases, this will usually mean the surviving spouse, child or children, parents, grandparents, or siblings of the deceased. An heir in Kansas does not include the administrator of an estate.
Missouri Revised Statute § 537.080 establishes three classes of people who can bring wrongful death actions. The first class is the deceased person’s spouse, children, or surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children. When there are no persons in the first class entitled to bring a wrongful death action, then a suit may be brought by the deceased person’s siblings or their descendants. If there are no persons in either of the first two classes, an action can be filed by a plaintiff ad litem. A plaintiff ad litem is a person appointed by a court at the request of an interested person. The interested person could be entitled to proceeds from such an action.
Compensation for Families in a Wrongful Death Claim
When a wrongful death claim is successfully proven, the plaintiff could be awarded compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are often a combination of economic damages, which are calculable losses, and noneconomic damages, which are more subjective.
Economic damages in wrongful death cases may include medical bills for the deceased prior to their death, funeral expenses, and loss of future income and inheritance. Noneconomic damages can include emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium, companionship, guidance, and counsel.
Some damages may be subject to certain limitations, depending on the state where a wrongful death claim is filed. In Missouri, a medical malpractice wrongful death case award cannot be more than $350,000. Under Kansas Statute § 60-1903a, noneconomic losses in wrongful death actions are limited to $250,000.
Certain wrongful death cases can also result in punitive damages or exemplary damages. Juries award punitive damages mostly to punish defendants for certain more egregious forms of misconduct, such as drunk driving.
How Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help You
Edelman & Thompson was rated No. 1 in Kansas City jury verdicts by the Kansas City Jury Verdict Service (Most Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury Jury Verdicts, 2012-2017). We have recovered over $500 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Our record of success includes a $7 million settlement in a wrongful death case involving a truck collision.
Ron Edelman is a member of the Missouri Bar, Kansas Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Workplace Injury Litigation Group, Kansas Trial Lawyers Association, and Missouri Trial Lawyers Association. James Thompson is a member of the Kansas City Bar Association, the Missouri Bar, the United States Supreme Court Bar, the Federal Court Bars in Kansas and Missouri, the American Association for Justice (AAJ), and the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA).
Edelman & Thompson understands the tremendous financial stress many families are facing after a loved one has been killed. For this reason, we represent individuals on contingency fee basis, which means that you pay us nothing unless you receive a monetary award.
You should also know that our fee is only 25 percent for most work injury cases and 33 ⅓ percent in most other cases. This rate is much less than the 40 to 50 percent that is charged by many other law firms.
When you work with Edelman & Thompson, we will immediately conduct an independent investigation to determine how your loved one was killed, collect all important evidence, and identify all potentially liable parties. Our firm can then negotiate for a fair and full settlement to your case, and we can file a lawsuit if an insurance company does not make a satisfactory offer.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims in Missouri and Kansas
A wrongful death case typically needs to be filed within two years of the date of the death in either Kansas or Missouri. One major exception to the statute of limitations concerns the so-called “discovery rule.”
The discovery rule recognized by most states holds that a limitations period actually begins on the date that a party learns the actual cause of a person’s death. The discovery rule comes into effect in cases in which the cause of death may not be immediately evident but becomes apparent upon further investigation.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases Our Law Firm Handles
A number of different accidents can result in a person’s death. Some cases involve negligence while other may involve a person’s deliberate conduct. Some of the most common causes of wrongful deaths include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
Other wrongful death cases may be the result of criminal acts like assaults or murder. The criminal case is completely separate from your civil case, meaning that even if the defendant is found not guilty of the crime, you may still be able to recover compensation for wrongful death.
The most infamous example of this is the case of former pro football star O.J. Simpson. While Simpson was acquitted of murder in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, he was found liable in civil court for their deaths and a jury awarded the families $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.
Contact a Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney Today
A wrongful death case is a very traumatic and stressful ordeal for most family members, as they are often forced to revisit many painful details about their loved one’s death while they are fighting to recover the money they desperately need to support themselves and their family. Our attorneys can take the legal burden off you and your relatives while your focus on putting your life back together.
While many people are inclined to believe that the negligent parties will feel some remorse and their insurance companies will be willing to fully compensate a family for their loss, it is not uncommon to run into disputes about liability and fault for a death.
It can be incredibly difficult for the average person to prove a wrongful death case. The surviving family members are often unfamiliar with the law and the steps required to successfully bring a wrongful death claim.
You need to make sure that you are able to present the strongest possible wrongful death case when your loved one has died suddenly in any kind of accident. Do not let an insurance company pressure you into accepting a settlement that you know is much less than what you deserve.
Was your loved one killed in an accident caused by another party’s negligence or wrongful act in Kansas or Missouri? You should act very quickly to seek legal representation so you can pursue all of the compensation that you might be entitled to.
Edelman & Thompson has five office locations in the greater Kansas City area, and our lawyers will come to your home or hospital room if you are unable to come see us. Call us or contact us online to receive a free consultation.