In a wrongful death claim the party filing the claim may be entitled to:
Those are all part of the damages that you would receive.
Interviewer: What’s the difference between the civil and the criminal cases that can be brought regarding the death?
Kevin Roach: Those are separate causes of action, in Missouri as far as the wrongful death claim, there’s only one wrongful death claim that can be filed. If there is a separate, if someone was killed as a result of criminal wrong doing, then that would be a separate case, it would be prosecuted by the prosecuting attorney in whatever county that the crime occurred in.
If there was a criminal act that would, more than likely, it would affect the damages in the wrongful death suit, because normally if there are criminal charges there would also be punitive damages involved. They’re separate cases, but the fact that there’s a criminal charge that does affect the wrongful death suit.
Interviewer: What about when someone brings a lawsuit injury and then dies before the result happens, does that become a wrongful death case as a result?
Kevin Roach: Yes it would and I’ve had that happen. You have someone that’s injured in a serious accident, and they may have survived for a few days or a few weeks, but if they pass away as a result of the injuries from the accident, then it does become a wrongful death suit/claim.
Interviewer: What are the survivors entitled to in a wrongful death case?
Kevin Roach: They would have a claim, a regular personal injury claim as well, unless it was their fault. If there were two people in a car, and one person was fatally injured and the other person lived, then yeah, they would have two separate causes of action.
The wrongful death case would be for the deceased and their family, and then the person that survived, if it was a husband and wife and maybe the wife lived and the husband didn’t, the wife would have a claim for her own injuries, under the regular negligence cause of action in Missouri, then she would also have a wrongful death case that she would file for her husband. In that scenario she would have two claims, one for herself and one for the loss of her husband.
Interviewer: In a wrongful death, can a family member also sue for pain and suffering?
Kevin Roach: There’s not a separate cause of action for that, there’s only one suit that can be filed, one wrongful death claim that can be filed with the court, and pain and suffering is one of the damages that you can receive.
In Missouri you have to prove that there is conscious pain and suffering, and sometimes that’s hard to prove if it was a very traumatic accident, or someone may have just died instantaneously, it’s really hard to prove that there was pain and suffering. It depends on the situation, but pain and suffering is one of the damages that affects the value of the wrongful death claim in Missouri.