How do your prove wrongful death?

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one in Missouri due to the negligence or wrongdoing of someone else, you can sue the person and/or entity responsible for your loved one’s untimely death. In general, a surviving spouse, parent, child or sibling of the deceased can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

Remember, however, a wrongful death action is a civil suit for which you can recover money damages only. The plaintiff does not go to jail if you win your suit as (s)he may do if the state prosecutes him or her for alleged wrongdoing. On the other hand, (s)he need not receive a conviction in order for you to file and win a wrongful death action against him or her.

Wrongful death elements of proof

To prevail in your wrongful death suit, you will have to prove the following:

  • That the person and/or entity you are suing owed your deceased family member a duty of care
  • That (s)he breached his or her duty of care by taking or failing to take a certain action
  • That this breach of duty of care proximately caused your loved one’s death
  • That because of your loved one’s untimely death, you suffered monetary damages

If you win your wrongful death suit, you can collect both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those to which the jury can easily attach a value, such as the damages you suffered when you paid your loved one’s medical bills and funeral expenses. Noneconomic damages are those to which the jury cannot attach a value, such as the damages you suffered and will continue to suffer because you lost your loved one’s love, support, companionship, etc. For these, the jury will have to use its best judgment to determine the value of your losses and therefore your damages.

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