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What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The death of a family member is always a trying time. In situations where a loved one passes due to the negligence of another, family members are owed compensation for the loss.

A “wrongful death” is defined by as “the death of a human being as the result of a wrongful act of another person”. Wrongful death claims range from negligence to intentional attacks and include battery, careless driving, vehicular manslaughter, medical malpractice, work incidents, and defective products.

Establishing proof in a wrongful death claim involves three elements:

  • Duty of Care – It must be proven that the Defendant owed the deceased person a “duty of care”.

  • Breach of Duty of Care – After establishing the duty of care, the Plaintiff must prove the Defendant breached that duty.

  • Causation – Finally, the Plaintiff must prove the Defendant’s action(s) caused the wrongful death.

One of the best ways to get direction on a wrongful death claim is to contact our experienced injury lawyers at Biesterveld & Crook, LLC for a free consultation. It’s important to do this sooner rather than later because important evidence can be lost and the statute of limitation restrictions limits the time you have to file a wrongful death suit. Scheduled a free consultation at our office in Overland Park, Kansas today.



Types of Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death acts can include anything ranging from negligence to intentional attacks. Battery, careless driving, vehicular manslaughter, medical malpractice, work incidents, and defective products are just a few of the types of situations that can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.

The most common types of wrongful death claims involve motor vehicle collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,461 auto-accident deaths occurred on U.S. roadways in 2016 alone. The following numbers were also reported for cyclist, pedestrian, and motorcyclist deaths during the same year: 5,286 motorcyclists, 5,987 pedestrians, and 849 bicyclists. The NHTSA reports many of these accidents were due to negligence and could have been avoided.

Kansas Laws for Wrongful Death

The state of Kansas permits “any one of the heirs at law of the deceased” to file a wrongful death claim. Surviving spouses, children, parents, and siblings most often are the individuals pursuing wrongful death claims, as surviving family members are typically the parties to whom damages are paid. These damages include, but are not limited to, funeral costs, medical bills, lost wages, and repair costs.

While Kansas does not cap these previously stated “pecuniary” damages, Kansas does enforce a $325,000 cap on non-economic damages. This amount was increased on July 1, 2018, from $300,000, and will increase to $350,000 in 2022. These damages include losses such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, bereavement, and loss of marital care. Kansas wrongful death jury verdicts typically itemize amounts awarded for damages.

Those wishing to file cases for wrongful death in Kansas should be mindful of the statute of limitations currently in effect. This rule limits the amount of time an individual has to file a wrongful death lawsuit, as it must be done within two years of the date of the person’s death.

Missouri Laws for Wrongful Death

Just like Kansas, Missouri has specific regulations regarding who is permitted to bring a wrongful death case to the state’s civil courts. Surviving spouses, children, and grandchildren are the first in line to bring such claims. Parents of the deceased, most often in the event of a child’s death, are also permitted to file these lawsuits. In the event there are no surviving spouses, children, grandchildren, or parents, a surviving sibling may file the case. Next in line if there are no surviving siblings is the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate. In the event that none of these previously stated people are alive, the court would then appoint a “plaintiff ad litem” for the claim.

Damages in Missouri cases are very similar to Kansas cases. However, Missouri caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases that result in death at $700,000. This amount increases by 1.7% every year. Economic damages are not affected by this cap.

The statute of limitations in Missouri is also different from Kansas, as Missouri’s time limit for wrongful death claims is three years from the date of the decedent’s death. Whether you live in Overland Park, Shawnee, Mission, or Olathe, we have extensive experience to help you achieve a successful result with your case.


The best way to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit is to consult an attorney with experience handling such matters. An attorney would determine eligibility, gather necessary documentation, examine the case, and guide the appropriate parties survived by the deceased through the claim process. To schedule a free consultation with our wrongful death attorneys at Biesterveld & Crook, LLC, schedule a free consultation now below by filling out a simple submission form or by giving our office a call.