Who Gets Wrongful Death Damages?

The death of a loved one is overwhelming. It can be even more so if that death was unexpected and due to the negligence, recklessness or intentional misconduct of another. You may be experiencing not only grief and confusion, but anger. In the midst of this, your legal rights need to be protected. You will likely face unplanned financial losses including medical expenses, burial expenses, lost wages and other expenses. You will also have to deal with the grief and sorrow that comes with the loss of a loved one. You could be entitled to recover damages from the wrongdoer for your losses and your loved one’s losses. The laws governing wrongful death can be complicated, so it is important that you speak to us as soon as possible.

Wrongful death lawsuit

If the death of your loved one was caused by the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, you could be entitled to receive damages for your loss. The purpose of these damages is to provide relief for the emotional and financial hardship the family has suffered as a result of the victim’s death. State law dictates what damages you can sue for, and in what amounts.

Who can sue for damages?

Each state has different guidelines as to who has standing, or the right to sue for wrongful death damages. These laws vary from state to state.

For a lawsuit filed in the state of Kansas for example, the laws indicate that any heir who has sustained a loss can bring a lawsuit. Heirs would include a surviving spouse, parents, children, and grandchildren for example.

In Missouri, the laws are slightly different. Who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit is divided into 3 categories.

The first category consists of the victim’s spouse, children, surviving descendants of any deceased children, or the mother or father of the deceased. If there is no one living the first category, then the court will allow claims by individuals in the second category. The second category consists of siblings of the victim and the sibling’s descendants. If there is no one living the first two categories, the court will appoint a plaintiff ad litem. A plaintiff ad litem is appointed by the court on the request of people who have a legal right to share in the proceeds of a wrongful death action.

How are damages distributed?

Once damages are awarded, state law will determine who receives the money. In Kansas, the estate of the victim may be compensated for the costs of bringing the lawsuit. Then the damages are distributed to the victim’s heirs by the court. The parties often agree to the distribution of a settlement amount, which must be approved by the court. When the parties cannot agree on the distribution of the settlement amount or the verdict amount, the court will make that determination.

In Missouri, the court must approve of any settlement and will be responsible for apportioning the damages to the parties in proportion to the loss suffered by each party.

Come talk to us

Losing a loved one is a life changing experience. As hard as it is, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that you and your family have legal rights that need to be protected. It’s important to start that process as soon as possible. We are here to take that stress off you so that you can heal and move forward with your life. Contact us to discuss your options and learn what can be done to address the loss you have suffered. Call us today at 913-839-2808.