Kansas City Wrongful Death Lawyer

There are few things more painful in life than losing a loved one, but when their untimely death results from the negligence of another party, the emotions are life-changing. Many accidental deaths are not criminal, so you won’t seek justice through the criminal justice system. There is, however, something you can do. If you’ve lost a family member, partner, or loved one, you can speak to a wrongful death lawyer in Kansas City to discuss your case. In Kansas City, MO, attorney Ryan Bratcher of RKB Law, LLC handles wrongful death claims on a contingency basis. That means that you can speak to a compassionate and effective wrongful death without paying out-of-pocket. Call today.

Wrongful Death

Requirements for a Wrongful Death Case

Like other types of personal injury lawsuits, a wrongful death lawsuit must meet all four elements of negligence:

  1. There must be a duty of care.
  2. The defendant must have breached that duty.
  3. The plaintiff must have suffered an injury, or in this case, the victim must have died as a result of the accident. 
  4. There must be evidence that the defendant’s breach caused the accident.

In addition to the elements found in all personal injury cases, to have a viable wrongful death lawsuit, your attorney must be able to demonstrate that the death was caused by the accident. It’s also necessary to establish that the plaintiff has standing to file a wrongful death case in the state of Missouri.

How to Select the Best Kansas City, MO Wrongful Death Attorney

In the days after an accident that takes the life of a loved one, you may be overwhelmed by grief and anger. Still, it’s essential that you know what to expect from your attorney. To begin with, for this type of legal representation, you should not be charged for a consultation. Kansas City wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means that they get paid once you collect a settlement or court award.

Many personal injury lawyers in Kansas City advertise themselves as “wrongful death attorneys,” but they’ve actually handled very few cases. Ask any lawyer you speak to about wrongful death cases in the past, particularly if your case involves medical malpractice or your loved one’s injuries required a protracted hospital stay. These types of cases tend to be far more technical. Finally, make sure that your attorney will be accessible to answer questions as your case develops.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Damages in a wrongful death claim are similar to those in other types of personal injury cases, but there are some types of damages that you can collect that make them unique.

Economic Damages

This type of damages includes anything that can be monetarily calculated. In all personal injury cases, including wrongful death claims, they include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. A wrongful death case may also include funeral expenses and lost future income — the money that the deceased would have earned if their life had not met an early end.

Non-Economic Damages

Pain and suffering is a term that personal injury attorneys apply to the physical pain, emotional anguish, and mental trauma that accompanies most accidents. With a wrongful death case, these damages would not only apply to the deceased for whatever pain and emotional trauma they experienced after the accident but also to their survivors. Missouri law also recognizes loss of consortium, which is the emotional pain that survivors of the deceased experience after losing a loved one. 

Punitive Damages

In cases where the defendant acted with willful intent or egregious negligence, the court may award punitive damages to punish the behavior. This would be in addition to the other types of damages already mentioned. 

Standing in Wrongful Death Cases

In order to file a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must have standing in the case. In Missouri, there are two classes of plaintiffs in wrongful death cases:

Class 1

This includes a spouse: surviving children, which may be natural or legally adopted children born in or out of wedlock; or the natural or adoptive parents of the deceased. 

Class 2

If there is no plaintiff that qualifies under Class 1, the brother or sister of the deceased or their children (nieces or nephews) can file a lawsuit. 

If there is no one in either classification, the court can appoint a person to act as a plaintiff. If you are concerned about your standing in a lawsuit, contact Ryan Bratcher at his law office to discuss your wrongful death claim. 

Wrongful Death Facts and Statistics

According to the Center for Disease Control, accidents are the fourth leading cause of death in the state of Missouri. In 2017 alone, accidents claimed 3.776 lives. In 2020, the Missouri Department of Transportation reports that 989 deaths occurred in traffic crashes. That’s a 12% increase from the 2019 numbers. When it comes to medical malpractice wrongful deaths, the numbers are more difficult to calculate. In order to be categorized as a medical malpractice death, an attorney must be able to prove that the negligence caused the death. This is often less apparent than it would be in a traffic crash, for instance. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Claims

As a Kansas City wrongful death lawyer, attorney Ryan Bratcher knows your concerns. The following is not to be construed as legal advice. For specific information about your wrongful death lawsuit, contact attorney Ryan Bratcher for a free consultation. 

Do I have standing for a wrongful death claim?

In order to answer this question, it’s important to know your relationship with the accident victim and their surviving family members. If you have a Class 1 or Class 2 relationship, there is a good chance that you have standing for your case.

What’s the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Missouri?

In Missouri, the plaintiff must file a wrongful death claim within three years of the date of death. This differs from other types of personal injury suits, which have to be filed within two years of the date of the accident. This is because the victim may survive for some time after they were involved in an accident. 

Can I afford a Kansas City wrongful death attorney?

Wrongful death lawyers in Kansas City, and the rest of Missouri, for that matter, work on a contingency basis. By law, the contingency fees in Missouri must be in writing. That means you should know exactly how much any law firm stands to make before you commit to an attorney. 

What if I was injured in the same accident that took the life of my loved one?

This type of case is not particularly uncommon. For instance, car accidents often result in only one of the vehicle’s occupants dying. You can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased and still pursue your own personal injury claim. 

What should I do to help my wrongful death accident claim?

While your attorney will be doing most of the work regarding your case, some things will fall on you. This is especially true if you haven’t yet committed to a particular firm. To begin with, preserve any evidence that you have of the accident itself. For instance, if a car accident claimed the life of your loved one and you took pictures or video of the scene, back up the evidence to a hard drive and email yourself the files. This will ensure that they aren’t lost before you can present your case. 

Also, keep the hard copies of all medical records, but also scan these into a hard drive and email the files to yourself. Keep the receipts for all bills and expenses that you incur. Do not contact witnesses or talk to insurance company representatives before speaking to a wrongful death lawyer. 

How long does a wrongful death case take before it’s settled?

A number of factors can affect the length of time it takes to settle a wrongful death case. One of the most significant factors is the complexity of the case. For instance, medical malpractice cases can be extremely complex and require the analysis and testimony of multiple expert witnesses. The length of time also depends on how quickly the plaintiff is able to establish standing. Plaintiffs that are not married to the deceased or blood relatives have to be appointed by the courts. Many wrongful death lawsuits can be completed within one to three years of the date of death, but some take longer. 

Wrongful Death Lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri

For years, Ryan Bratcher of RKB Law has been representing accident victims and their loved ones throughout Kansas City, MO. He has the experience and understanding to negotiate and litigate personal injury and wrongful death claims. If you have lost a loved one in an accident, attorney Bratcher understands what you are going through. Contact him today for a free initial consultation. No settlement will make up for the loss you’ve experienced, but you can pursue justice. Call today!