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What Can Be Recovered in A Wrongful Death Case?

Laura Thomas April 15, 2019

Damages in wrongful death cases often are more substantial and extensive than in other personal injury cases, such as car accidents and slip and falls. Laws governing damages for wrongful death cases are made at the state level, and therefore vary greatly from state to state. This can make it challenging for you to understand exactly what you are entitled to. It’s best to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your potential wrongful death claim.

Damages for Wrongful Death in Kansas

In Kansas, the elements of damage that can be recovered include:

  • Mental anguish, suffering, or bereavement

  • Loss of society, companionship, comfort, or protection

  • Loss of marital care, attention, advice, or counsel

  • Loss of parental care, training, guidance, or education

  • Reasonable funeral expenses

  • Costs to repair or replace any property damaged in the incident

  • Lost wages, such as the total of wages the deceased person would have earned if they had lived

Pecuniary damages are those that can be quantified easily for specific amounts, such as funeral expenses and medical bills. Pecuniary damages are not limited by Kansas law. However, non-economic damages such as mental anguish and loss of parental care are capped at $325,000. This amount will increase to $350,000 in 2022.

Proving pecuniary damages exist can be quite simple. By providing documentation of said expenses for burials, funerals, lost wages, medical bills, etc., you can easily show the court that these damages are legitimate.

Witnesses are often questioned to help prove non-economic damages exist. Providing your attorney with a list of witnesses who can vouch for the losses is best in proving those damages. For example, to prove loss of companionship, an attorney would speak with the spouse of the deceased to discuss the couple’s relationship. Potential witnesses can include family members, friends, employers, and/or medical care providers.

Damages for Wrongful Death in Missouri

Missouri damages are similar to Kansas damages. However, in most cases Missouri has no caps on damages you can recover. The only exceptions are medical malpractice cases resulting in death. These are currently capped at $700,000 with a 1.7% increase every year for non-economic damages. Damages for “grief and bereavement by reason of death” are also not recognized in the state of Missouri.

Missouri provides several calculations to figure various circumstantial damages. For example, if the deceased person was under the age of 18, damages are calculated based on the income of the parent(s). If both parents work, the damages would equal the average of the two incomes.

How Are Damages Paid?

In Kansas, the victim’s estate is first compensated for bringing the lawsuit. Then damages are distributed to the victim’s heirs by a judge. The parties can agree to a distribution of a settlement, but it must be approved by a judge.

In Missouri, a judge must first approve the settlement. The judge is then responsible for apportioning the settlement in proportion to loss suffered.

Assessing Recoverable Damages

The best way you can assess the damages available in your wrongful death claim is to contact an attorney to begin investigating the case. The attorneys at Biesterveld & Crook, LLC will thoroughly examine your case to find the damages you are owed and the damages allowed in your state.

There are no fees upfront for our services. We receive a percentage of the funds recovered at the conclusion of your case. That means we won’t get paid until you receive the compensation you deserve. Call to schedule your free consultation today.

On Monday, April 29th, we will conclude our series by sharing the qualities you should look for in a wrongful death attorney.