What is a Wrongful Death Case in Missouri?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a suit that is brought by a surviving family member or other person on behalf of someone who was killed by the action of someone else. Most wrongful death cases are brought by the surviving spouse or children of the decedent. The proceeds of the suit are then distributed to those who act on behalf of the decedent.
There is no specific type of case which triggers a wrongful death lawsuit other than the obvious requirement of the death of the decedent. In Missouri, some of the typical situations where wrongful death cases stem from are:
- Alcohol Over-Service (Dram Shop)
- Car Accidents
- Climbing Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Dangerous Conditions
- Dog Bites
- Design Defects
- Defective Products
- Failure to Supervise
- Failure to Warn
- Falling Objects
- Food Poisoning
- Medical Malpractice
- Personal Injury
- Premises Liability
- Product Liability
- Slip & Fall
- Snow, Water, & Ice
- Swinging Objects
- Welding Accidents
Insurance Company Tactics
Most wrongful death cases involve dealing with an insurance company. When dealing with an insurance company, it is important to note the following:
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE NOT ON YOUR SIDE
When insurance companies find out about a potential wrongful death claim, they will contact you immediately. They will ask you to provide a statement of what happened and they will ask you to provide them with all of your medical records and bills related to the accident. At first, these insurance companies will appear to be on your side and may come across as someone who is trying to help you get through your injury. Despite this, after complying with all of their demands, the insurance company will offer you a settlement which is substantially inadequate. Most of the time, the offer doesn’t even cover your medical bills, let alone your pain and suffering.
Insurance companies will employ many different tactics to try to convince you that your claim isn’t what you think it is. One of these tactics is to tell the injured party that they contributed to the accident. This is called comparative fault.
Comparative fault is a doctrine recognized by Missouri law which essentially allows fault or blame to be placed upon the injured party. Specifically, juries are told that if they see fit, they may assign a percentage of fault to an injured party based upon the facts of the case. For example, a jury may find that an injured party’s actions, although not the main reason, still contributed to the accident occurring and as such will assign fault to the injured party. This assignment of fault will reduce your award in proportion to the percentage assigned.
Insurance companies are well aware of this doctrine and will often times abuse this doctrine in an attempt to make the injured party believe they played a role in the accident. Insurance companies will make a determination for themselves as to what percentage of blame is to be placed upon the injured driver. For example, insurance companies will allows assign a significant percentage of blame to an injured driver who was injured in an accident due to being cut off by another driver. Despite following all applicable rules and regulations, insurance companies simply think being cut off by another driver is the injured party’s fault. Of course, this doesn’t follow simple logic, but that is how insurance companies think.
Why You Need to Hire a Lawyer
When an attorney gets involved in a wrongful death case, insurance companies take notice. They begin to realize that they can no longer take advantage of an injured person who is in a bad situation. Insurance companies know that an attorney has the ability and resources to properly investigate an accident. Likewise, an attorney understands all the facets of a personal injury claim giving you a distinct advantage against the insurance company. All in all, when an attorney gets involved, the insurance company knows that the injured party means business.
What We Can Do For You
The Law Office of Steve Slough routinely handles wrongful death cases. The firm prides itself on standing up to insurance companies and fighting for construction accident victims. We have experience in dealing with insurance companies and know how to quickly discredit the theories they use to deny your claim.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a trucking accident, please feel free to call our office for a free consultation.