Legal Requirements for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Every jurisdiction limits the amount of time a person has to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one. Failure to file a lawsuit within the statutory time period can result in your claim being denied.
At Bishop & Hayes, we represent families in auto accident wrongful death lawsuits. Our experienced legal team can help you determine your rights and whether you are entitled to recovery. If you lost a loved one in a car crash, contact our office at (417) 862-5544 to discuss your case with a partner with the firm.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Missouri law, a person must bring an action for wrongful death within three (3) years of the person’s death. If you do not bring a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you may end up waiving your right to pursue damages.
It is important to act quickly after an accident. Hiring an attorney immediately after the accident can help you to preserve evidence, obtain critical eye-witness statements, and start an independent investigation into the cause of the crash.
How Soon Should I Hire an Attorney?
While the three-year statute of limitations may seem like an ample amount of time to file a lawsuit, any delay in the investigation could result in evidence being lost or destroyed. Retaining a Missouri wrongful death lawyer early in the process can help to ensure that evidence is collected and witness statements are secured before memories fade.
Additionally, an attorney will make sure that all legal requirements are satisfied. From filing the appropriate documents in the proper courthouse to issuing subpoenas, an attorney can help ensure that you receive the maximum damages available in your case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
By statute, Missouri limits the number of people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Generally, only close relatives have the right to bring a claim on behalf of a deceased loved one. Priority is given to a surviving spouse, children, or parents of the decedent. Still, Missouri law does allow for additional people to bring a claim if none of the individuals in the first class are entitled to bring a cause of action.
Individuals who can file a claim based on wrongful death:
- Surviving spouse or children
- Lineal descendants of deceased children
- Parents of the decedent
- Siblings of the deceased or their descendants
If a close relative cannot be found, the court may appoint a plaintiff ad litem. It is important to note that only one wrongful death claim can be brought against a defendant.
Hiring Qualified Representation After an Auto Accident
At Bishop & Hayes, we know that no amount of money can ever compensate you for the unexpected death of your loved one. Our hope is that we can help alleviate some of the financial hardship created by this unimaginable loss.
We accept cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay no attorneys fees unless we recover damages on your behalf. In the unthinkable event that you have lost a loved one in an auto accident, contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call (417) 862-5544 to get started. All cases are handled by a partner with the firm.