St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorneys
The St. Louis wrongful death attorneys at Padberg Appelbaum Knepper are committed to helping those who have suffered from the tragic loss of a loved one.
Losing someone you love in a fatal accident can increase the pain and grief of death. While no amount of money will ever remedy what happened, it can help relieve financial concerns about funeral costs, medical bills or future expenses. Wrongful death is a type of civil lawsuit filed for the loss of someone who died due to the negligent or wrongful act of another person or entity.
In times of grief, it is understandable that a family would wait to move forward with legal action. However, if negligence of another party was a factor in your loved one’s death, do not hesitate to schedule a complimentary consultation with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in St. Louis. Our compassionate attorneys have successfully litigated and settled hundreds of wrongful death cases, and can help fight for justice on behalf of your loved one.
Notable St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorneys Cases
For the surviving family of a man who lost his life in an auto collision.
For an 18-year old boy who died in a fire after a motor vehicle accident as a result of a product defect in the motor vehicle in which he was a passenger.
For the wrongful death of two males who were electrocuted while moving a grain auger that struck a telephone line. The verdict was awarded to the families in St. Louis city courts.
FAQs: Questions to ask a wrongful death attorney near you
Click to jump to a question and answer:
- Do I have a wrongful death case?
- How do you prove wrongful death?
- How much is the average wrongful death settlement?
- Is there a time limit for filing?
- How long does it take to settle a wrongful death claim?
- Who receives financial compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit?
- How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
Do I have a wrongful death case?
Any sudden or tragic loss of life feels unjust. However, the main determining factor an attorney will evaluate is whether negligence or carelessness caused your loved one’s death. Any person, corporation or organization can be liable.
A wrongful death case can arise from any type of fatal personal injury accident, such as:
- Car accidents
- Gas explosions
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Trucking collisions
- Workplace injuries
Note that only certain individuals can pursue a wrongful death case. In Missouri, there are three authorized classes: the decedent’s spouse, children and parents (Class I); the decedent’s siblings and/or their siblings’ children (Class II); or plaintiff ad litem (Class III). In Illinois, wrongful death claims are authorized by the estate of the decedent, and the court appoints a family member to act as representative of the case.
How do you prove wrongful death?
An attorney must prove that negligence directly caused the death of the decedent. This can be complicated in a lawsuit against a hospital, nursing home, trucking corporation, or other entity who may be backed by predatory insurance agencies. Your best defense is to hire a top Missouri wrongful death lawyer with a successful track record.
To prove your loved one’s death was wrongful, a skilled attorney will help gather important documentation and look closely at all the evidence. During this process, establishing cause of death through an autopsy is important. Your St. Louis wrongful death lawyer will also hire medical experts and other subject matter experts to validate legal claims and provide testimony, to help with settlement negotiations or trial.
How much is the average wrongful death settlement?
The amount of compensation that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit widely varies. The nature and extent of a surviving family’s damages is the leading factor in determining the settlement or judgment amount. There is no cap or limit on damages, except for the noneconomic damages that can be recovered in a medical malpractice case, which is typically set at $740,000. However, a settlement or judgment will often include compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages.
Damages that can be recovered include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Lost income
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Loss of parental guidance or support
- Pain and suffering of the decedent
Is there a time limit for filing?
There are time limits specifying when a case can be filed, called a statute of limitations. In Missouri, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years from the date of death. This three-year deadline applies even when the death is caused by something with a lesser statute of limitations, such as medical malpractice.
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is always two years from the date of death.
How long does it take to settle a wrongful death claim?
It can take two to three years for a case to go to trial. Settlement can happen any time prior to trial, or even during trial. On average, most wrongful death cases that do not settle take 18 to 24 months from start to finish. Following a verdict, the losing party can file an appeal, extending the case another 12 to 18 months.
Who receives financial compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit?
One of the questions we are most frequently asked is “Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit?” In Missouri, every member of the class that brought forth the claim is entitled to the settlement, regardless of their involvement in the lawsuit.
- Class I: spouse, children and parents of the decedent
- Class II: siblings of the decedent and/or their siblings’ children
- Class III: plaintiff ad litem
In Illinois, the money awarded in the lawsuit is typically distributed to the legal heirs or beneficiaries of the victim.
In most cases, the survivors agree on the distribution of settlement proceeds. When there is a conflict, the decision is left to the court after hearing evidence. Proceeds do not go through probate and do not go to the estate of decedent — the money goes directly to the eligible recipient(s).
How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
Our clients do not pay ANY attorney fees or litigation costs unless we successfully recover a settlement or judgment for them. Attorneys pay the upfront costs to pursue the case. These expenses are repaid by the client in an amount that is mutually agreed on, after proceeds from the case have been distributed.
Looking for the best wrongful death lawyers near you? Schedule a complimentary consultation at the St. Louis law office of Padberg Appelbaum Knepper.