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Who can file a wrongful death claim in Missouri?

When people in Missouri lose a loved one due to someone else's harmful actions or negligent behavior, they may wonder what they can do to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Those responsible may face criminal charges connected to someone's death, but in many cases, the criminal courts may not provide a clear path to accountability. In addition, the loss of a family member can devastate people financially as well as emotionally. In many cases, the deceased was relied upon to support growing children or aging parents.

People who have had a loved one taken from them by someone else's actions may go to court to seek compensation for some of their losses in a wrongful death lawsuit. Only specified family members have a cause of action under Missouri state law. The spouse, children or parents of a deceased person may file a wrongful death lawsuit. An unmarried partner does not have standing to file a case, although any children of the relationship would have the right to sue.

When a person was not married, has no children and his or her parents have passed away, a brother or sister or their children may be able to file a case if they can show that they have suffered damages. When there are no living relatives entitled to bring a claim, the estate's personal representative can sue or the court may appoint a plaintiff ad litem to file the claim.

In many ways, a wrongful death lawsuit is akin to a personal injury case for a person whose life has been lost. A claim may seek compensation for a range of damages, including the value of the deceased person's wages, medical expenses, funeral costs and pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer can help bereaved families to take action to seek accountability.

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