Interviewer: What qualities should a person look for when looking to retain an attorney for a Wrongful Death Claim?
Kevin Roach: I think it's the same as any other area of law. There is no substitute for experience; you want to find someone that has significant experience handling wrongful death cases in Missouri. People just need to feel it out, I always recommend that people talk to several attorneys; find someone that you're comfortable in dealing with. That you can talk to, that you feel comfortable with.
It is Important that You are Able to work with your Attorney in a Wrongful Death Case
This is an important decision and you want to make sure that you're going to be able to work with the attorney. When you're picking an attorney, one of the questions you should always ask him is, "Are you going to be the one that goes to court with me? Are you going to be sitting next to me if we go to court? Who's going to be working on my file?" Because a lot of firms ... We have a smaller firm here, I have one-on-one relationship with my clients, a lot of firms they're not like that.
I hear this complaint from a lot of people, where they may meet with a medium or larger firm, at some point in time it becomes unclear as to who's representing them, they may meet with one attorney initially and the person may assume that's who that's going to be representing them, but that's not always the case.
People Generally are Not Comfortable with their Wrongful Death Cases Being Handed to Junior Associates
A lot of times the case is handed off to a junior associate. You want to feel comfortable who you're dealing with, you want to make sure, you want to confirm who's actually going to court with you and make sure they have sufficient experience in that area of law. Those are probably the most important things I can think of when picking an attorney to handle your wrongful death case in Missouri.
There are Challenges Involved in Recovering Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit
Interviewer: How often are you able to win cases, or help a client win a case against a wrongful death?
Kevin Roach: Usually you can get a really good recovery for them. I've never lost any wrongful death case; we've always been able to recover. I've settled cases for well over a million dollars, sometimes if there's enough coverage, and there's cases where you only get the policy limits, maybe a hundred thousand, or fifty thousand.
Those are really frustrating cases, because you really want to recover more for your client, but if there's no insurance coverage there, and it may have just been an accident, there's no criminal case, there's no criminal liability, it was just an accident, someone just wasn't watching where they were going. It's difficult, you want to recover more, but at the same time there are only so many avenues where you can get recovery for these people.
Damages Recovered from a Wrongful Death Claim are Not Taxable in Missouri
Interviewer: If wrongful death case damages are recovered, is that money taxable?
Kevin Roach: No, they're not. Money recovered from wrongful death or just a regular negligence case in Missouri is not taxable. The only money taxable would be those recovered as punitive damages. Those are taxed in Missouri, but other damages are not taxable.
The Loss of an Unborn Child in an Accident is Legitimate Grounds for a Wrongful Death Claim
Interviewer: If there's an accident that involved the death of an unborn child, if a woman was pregnant and an accident, for whatever reason, caused her to lose a child, would that be considered wrongful death?
Kevin Roach: Yes, absolutely. The law says an unborn child is still considered a wrongful death claim.I personally have not handled one involving the loss of an unborn child, but I would imagine they can happen any number of ways. Auto accident would probably be the most common, someone involved in a serious auto accident, it's a trauma, and they could possibly lose their child. I have had a couple cases recently; female clients of mine who were pregnant were involved in auto accidents.
It's a very traumatic thing whenever you're carrying an unborn child, whenever you're in an accident you can imagine all the emotions going through your mind. You're worried about the health of your child, you're worried about your own health. It's not a good situation to be in. Fortunately, my clients, their children were fine. Yeah, that's not something I see on a regular basis, it's not something I want to see honestly. It's a very horrific situation.