Florissant Wrongful Death Attorney

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The death of a family member is always a difficult situation for the surviving family, but knowing a loved one’s death was the result of negligence makes this already challenging situation even worse. If your loved one died because of another party’s actions, a Florissant wrongful death attorney can help ensure accountability and recover compensation that helps your family adjust to your new circumstances.

Compassionate Wrongful Death Representation in Florissant, MO

The attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm have the experience, professional legal resources, and skills necessary to handle the most challenging civil suits in Florissant, including wrongful death cases. When you believe another party is directly responsible for causing the death of your family member, you have the right to hold them accountable. You can also seek compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you have suffered.

Approaching any civil suit can be daunting, and the emotional tension that a wrongful death can generate is likely to make your impending case even more difficult if you attempt this alone. However, you can approach your case with peace of mind when you have the right legal team representing you. When you choose The Cagle Law Firm as your legal advocate, you will have a dedicated and responsive attorney ready to address your concerns and answer your questions as they arise.

We Develop Individualized Strategies for Each Client

Every case is unique, and our firm takes time to develop individualized legal strategies for all the clients we represent in Florissant. It’s natural to have many pressing legal questions in the aftermath of your loved one’s death that you will not be able to answer alone, and you and your family may be entitled to compensation. With an experienced Florissant wrongful death attorney handling your case, you can approach the situation with confidence.

When to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florissant

A wrongful death claim is a specific type of personal injury claim that pertains to a fatal injury. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil suit filed in response to one party causing fatal harm on another party. Wrongful death claims and suits seek compensation for damages caused by negligence, or failure to use reasonable care in a specific situation. A personal injury claim may also arise from an act of willful and illegal misconduct. The defendant can be held liable for the full extent of damages they caused to the plaintiff.

It’s possible to file a wrongful death claim after the death of a family member if another party is responsible due to negligence. If you are unsure whether you and your family have grounds to pursue a wrongful death claim, it is vital to seek out an experienced Florissant wrongful death attorney as soon as you are able. The Cagle Law Firm is ready to review the details of your situation and help determine the optimal path to recovery.

Statutory Rules for Filing a Wrongful Death Suit

If you intend to file a wrongful death claim in response to your loved one’s death, you must be prepared to meet a few important prerequisites with the court. First is the statute of limitations, or the time limit in which you must file the case with the court. The statute of limitations for wrongful death suits in Missouri is three years, and this time limit begins on the date of the death.

However, if the exact cause of your loved one’s death was not immediately clear, or if it was not immediately apparent that another party caused the death, it is possible for the statute of limitations to start on the date you and your family discovered the exact cause of the death. Statutes of limitations are rigid, so consulting an attorney immediately is critical. Three years might sound like more than enough time to file your case, but it is always advisable to start the claim filing process sooner rather than later. Contact an attorney immediately if you believe there are special circumstances that impact the timeline. Once the statute of limitations passes, you will not be able to bring a claim regardless of the merits. It is not enough to merely file a claim within the three-year statute of limitation, but you must file your petition/lawsuit in the appropriate court on or before the three years.

In addition to the statute of limitations, state law also enforces restrictions pertaining to eligibility to file a wrongful death suit. Only certain parties, primarily the direct beneficiaries of the decedent, may file wrongful death claims. Missouri law acknowledges three groups when it comes to eligibility to file wrongful death suits:

  • The first group with the primary right to file a wrongful death claim includes the closest direct beneficiaries of the decedent. Their surviving spouse and/or children would be first in line to file a wrongful death claim, followed by surviving parents along with the children of any predeceased children of the decedent.
  • The second group of eligible claimants would include siblings of the deceased and the children of those siblings.
  • The third and final eligible group can include anyone with a legitimate claim to the contents of the deceased’s estate or anyone who can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased. Such claimants must petition the court to appoint plaintiff ad litem. Plaintiff ad litem is a court appointed party appointed and authorized to sue at the request of the heirs of the deceased.

It’s possible for multiple individuals to join as plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit against a single defendant, and state law only allows for one wrongful death suit to be brought against a defendant for the death of any one person. Thus, four children of a decedent cannot all file individual wrongful death claims. Our attorneys have worked with many family members to develop a strategy to pursue a wrongful death case. Your Florissant wrongful death attorney can explain these statutes as they apply to your unique situation and discern your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim.

Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths in Florissant

You can only file a wrongful death suit if you can prove that another party’s actions directly caused the death. The majority of wrongful death claims filed each year arise from acts of negligence, which is the failure to act reasonably careful in certain situations. Negligence can also apply to a failure to uphold a specific duty of care a defendant owed to a victim.

Negligence takes many forms, and proving negligence may require different types of evidence depending on how a specific fatal injury occurred. Some of the most commonly cited causes of wrongful deaths in the Florissant area include:

  • Car accidents. Throughout the United States, car accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths each year. Any car accident has the potential to cause severe or fatal injuries, and some of the most common contributing factors to fatal accidents in the state include speeding, intoxicated driving, and distracted driving.
  • Truck accidents. Large commercial vehicles are capable of inflicting tremendous damage on multiple other vehicles when they are involved in accidents. Truck accidents can happen from mechanical failures, improperly loaded cargo, speeding, truck driver negligence, or a trucking company’s failure to uphold industry regulations. They may also occur from illegal misconduct.
  • Motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles are inherently some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road due to the fact that they offer minimal physical protection to riders when accidents happen. In 2020, Missouri removed the state’s helmet law, and this has reportedly contributed to a 40% increase in motorcycle accident fatalities throughout the state.
  • Slip and fall accidents. Many people experience minor slip and fall accidents that only result in cuts and bruises, but it is possible for some slip and fall accidents to cause devastating injuries. If your loved one died in a fatal slip and fall accident on another party’s property, it is possible to have grounds for a wrongful death suit under Missouri’s premises liability laws.
  • Workplace accidents. If your family member died from a workplace accident, workers’ compensation insurance may provide death benefits, but you could also have grounds for a civil claim against the party responsible for causing the death. Wrongful death in the workplace can become very complicated based upon the type of work the decedent was engaged and the status of the worker. For instance, gig workers and contractors are often not employees of a particular facility and cannot make a workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, if you work for the railroad, the work injury or death is a claim through the railroad which is a FELA case. Likewise, if you are employed on a waterway—those injury cases are classified as Jones Act claims. Thus, not all “workers’ compensation” cases work the same.
  • Dog attacks. A dog attack can be traumatic and damaging for the victim, but it is also possible for a dog attack to result in fatal injuries. The state enforces strict liability for dog owners and the harm their dogs cause. If your loved one was killed in a dog attack, the owner is liable for their wrongful death as long as the victim was not trespassing where the attack occurred and did not provoke the attack. Death due to animal attacks most commonly involve small children which are horrendous and catastrophic. If you have suffered such as loss, it is important to involve an attorney right away to search for all applicable insurance coverage.
  • Defective products. Many consumer products are inherently dangerous, and end users are expected to use reasonable care when using such products. However, some products are unreasonably dangerous due to defects, and if a fatal injury occurs, it is possible for the manufacturer to face liability for the resulting wrongful death under Missouri’s product liability laws.
  • Medical malpractice. While thousands of residents trust their doctors and other healthcare professionals to provide safe and effective treatment, medical negligence is estimated to be the third leading cause of accidental deaths throughout the United States each year. Filing a wrongful death suit under medical malpractice law is different from filing other types of wrongful death claims, and special restrictions apply to the damages available.

Ultimately, if you are unsure whether you and your family have grounds to file a wrongful death claim, it is vital that you speak with an experienced Florissant wrongful death attorney. They can help determine eligibility and start building the legal framework of your case.

Compensation You Can Claim in a Wrongful Death Suit

A wrongful death suit seeks compensation on behalf of the victim’s surviving family. A wrongful death case allows for the claiming of both economic and non-economic damages. It’s vital to work with a seasoned Florissant wrongful death attorney to accurately calculate the full value of your claim.

Economic damages in a wrongful death suit pertain to the direct financial impact of the death on the victim’s family. Examples of economic damages commonly claimed in wrongful death actions in Florissant include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses. Whoever pays for the victim’s funeral rites and burial expenses can expect reimbursement from a successful wrongful death suit. The family will likely need to conduct their funeral for the deceased before the wrongful death suit concludes. As long as all such costs are deemed reasonable by the court, the party who paid for these expenses can expect full repayment from the defendant.
  • Final medical expenses for treatment the deceased received prior to their death. If they did not die immediately from the defendant’s actions, the defendant would be liable for the cost of all lifesaving medical interventions attempted before the death. This may include ambulance fees, surgical care, emergency room costs, and any expenses related to life support prior to the victim’s death.
  • Lost financial support. If the deceased earned income for their family, it is possible for the family to recover compensation for the wages they are no longer able to earn. Your Florissant wrongful death attorney can calculate these losses based on how long the victim could have continued working in the future had they survived.
  • Lost value of household services. If the victim provided household and childcare services for their family, it is possible to recover compensation similar to lost financial support. Your attorney can help assess the scope of the financial impact of the death on your family and ensure this is appropriately reflected in your claim.

You may be aware of the immediate financial impact of your loved one’s unexpected death, but accurate calculation of projected future losses will be very challenging without an attorney’s help. Most families find it very challenging to even imagine the loss of a family member both financial and emotional. Actually, trying to calculate the economic and non-economic damages after you have lost a family member is almost incomprehensible. A Florissant wrongful death attorney can help determine the extent the damages you can seek from the defendant.

Calculating Pain and Suffering in a Wrongful Death Claim

When most people hear the term “pain and suffering,” they may be confused as to how one would determine the fair economic value of intangible things like physical pain, emotional distress, and psychological trauma. How might you arrive at a number for the loss of your significant other, parent or child? Under the state’s wrongful death statutes, it is possible for the plaintiff in a wrongful death suit to seek compensation for the pain and suffering the victim experienced prior to their death, along with the family’s pain and suffering due to their loss.

Missouri law does not enforce a cap or limit on pain and suffering compensation in civil claims, with the sole exception of medical malpractice cases. If your wrongful death case does not pertain to medical malpractice, there is no cap on the amount of pain and suffering compensation you can seek from the defendant. Your Florissant wrongful death attorney will develop a legal strategy for your case including calculating damages.

In most wrongful death suits, the plaintiff’s attorney assesses pain and suffering for the victim based on the time between the fatal accident and the actual time of death. This may sound strange and applies to those who suffered a prolonged death. For the surviving family, pain and suffering are typically calculated by adding the total of their claimed economic losses and then multiplying this amount by a factor of one to five or more to reflect the severity of the defendant’s actions. Again, each loss is unique and our attorneys do not rely on the same formulas as insurance risk managers or “bean counters”.

For most plaintiffs in the state, civil claims for damages, pain and suffering account for most of their overall recovery. If the defendant caused the death through any egregious negligence or illegal action, they are also likely to owe punitive damages and/or restitution to the victim’s family. Ultimately, your case could be worth far more than you initially expect, and the right attorney is your most valuable asset for enhancing your case award.

Settling a Wrongful Death Claim in Florissant

Proving liability for a wrongful death is the first stage of your case, followed by an assessment of the full scope of damages you can claim from the defendant. Your Florissant wrongful death attorney can be invaluable for the help they can provide in meeting these prerequisites and building the foundation of your wrongful death claim.

It is possible to settle a wrongful death claim outside of court as long as both the plaintiff and the defendant are willing to compromise on the outcome. The plaintiff may be willing to settle for slightly less than they initially expected in exchange for a more expedient case, whereas the defendant may be willing to part with more in lieu of paying additional legal costs for protracted litigation.

Settlement may not be an option for your wrongful death suit if the defendant is facing serious criminal charges for their actions and/or they are unwilling to settle the case. If your case proceeds to civil litigation, it could take much longer, and the outcome rests in the hands of the judge or jury overseeing the case. If both parties are at a stalemate, litigation is the only option. Simply waiting out a defendant or insurance company is never effective. Both sides of the case will present evidence, witness testimony, and their arguments. Litigation can sometimes take months or even years to resolve.

At The Cagle Law Firm, we strive to settle our clients’ cases as swiftly as possible to help them recover compensation for their losses efficiently. However, pushing to settle a case too soon can come at a cost to our client. Every decision made in the process is based on “what is the best plan for compensation for our client”. We have the professional resources, and experience necessary to handle the toughest litigation and represent our client in the courtroom when necessary.

Comparative Fault in Wrongful Death Claims

One important law to keep in mind in any civil claim for damages in Missouri is the state’s rule regarding comparative fault. It upholds a pure comparative fault statute, which means that fault must be divided among all liable parties in a civil suit in proportion to each liable party’s level of responsibility for causing the damages. It is possible for multiple defendants to share fault, but it is also possible for a plaintiff to bear partial fault.

If your loved one contributed to causing the fatal accident, the pure comparative fault statute may to factor into your impending wrongful death case result. The judge or jury handling the case will assign fault percentages to each liable party. If the victim is found to have been partially responsible for the accident, their fault percentage is subtracted from the final case award as a penalty.

It’s common for defendants in civil suits to assert comparative fault in their efforts to reduce their own liability for damaging others. If you are a loved one of the decedent, it can spark anger that an insurance company might blame your loved one for their own death. In reality, if you have lost a loved one, it is not even healthy for you to have to attempt to argue comparative fault or any other legal issue with any insurance adjuster or company/. At The Cagle Law Firm, we are interested in learning the story of your loved one’s life so that we may share his or her story with a jury. Our loved one’s lives are illustrated through their relationships with family and friends. When a client agrees to let us share their loved one’s story, it is with great honor and responsibility and not a series of formulas.

Benefits of Hiring a Florissant Wrongful Death Attorney

Ultimately, any wrongful death claim has the potential to be complicated. After such a loss, the idea of “complicated” can deter family from making a claim or filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The emotional stress of the loss makes handling a claim on your own more challenging. Negotiating your own life around such a loss is overwhelming, let alone starting an entire legal project combined with your everyday responsibilities.

Hiring an experienced Florissant wrongful death attorney makes handling your case much better for your family’s recovery. Experienced legal counsel increases your chance of success with any civil claim for damages in Florissant. Instead of attempting to manage frequent, confrontational communication with an insurance carrier after suffering such as loss, an attorney handles all aspects of the case so you can focus on your family.

A wrongful death claim is a terrible thing and all too often families are just too overcome with grief to develop a plan to gather evidence or filing a lawsuit. When you experience such trauma, it is impossible to be objective. In fact, experienced personal injury attorneys do not generally handle the wrongful death of their own family members as all objectivity is fairly impossible.

While you want your attorney to be professional, you do not want an attorney that simply plugs your losses into a formula. An experienced attorney does not simply look at medical bills and lost income but approaches your wrongful death with passion and intensity. Your loved one’s life and their contributions are actually far more important than any formula. You hire an attorney to learn your lost loved one’s story. Most of our life stories are told through our relationships with others including family and friends.

Your Florissant wrongful death attorney will have resources and methods for gathering all evidence available.

An experienced attorney guides their client in all aspects of your case from gathering evidence to trial performance if needed. For example, if you are claiming compensation for the income your loved one can no longer provide for your family, it would require assessing their prior earnings, the time they would have likely continued working in the future, and future adjustments for inflation and cost of living increases.

A Florissant wrongful death attorney is also crucial for making a strong argument for maximum pain and suffering compensation. There are no limits to this aspect of a case award for most wrongful death claims in the state, but the average person may not know an appropriate amount to include with their claim. You can trust your attorney to seek the maximum possible compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, as well as your suffering and your family’s.

Another important benefit to hiring an attorney for your impending wrongful death suit is that you will have access to a responsive legal advocate who can answer your questions as they arise throughout your case. You and your family can mourn with peace of mind, knowing you have a legal team you can trust fighting on your behalf. You are more likely to succeed with your case and more likely to maximize your final case award with an attorney’s assistance.

What to Expect from Your Legal Team in Florissant

The Cagle Law Firm has years of professional experience representing clients in Florissant and surrounding communities with all types of civil suits, including wrongful death claims. We know how very difficult it is for anyone to lose a loved one unexpectedly, and any death in the family is much harder to process when you know the death resulted from carelessness, recklessness, or illegal action.

Our goal in every wrongful death claim is to pursue compensation and some justice for the loss of a loved one. The Cagle Law Firm will not add to your financial problems by charging upfront legal fees. Unlike other types of lawyers, you may have need to hire for a divorce, traffic citation or estate planning, our fee structure is based on our ability to obtain compensation. Fees are based on a percentage of the total compensation. Also, every client receives complete transparency regarding fees and expenses, and we are happy to explain those fees at any time.

During your initial consultation with our team, we review the details of your loss, let you know if you have grounds for a wrongful death suit, and provide our insights as to the expected process. While we represent you and your family, the decisions about your case are yours with our advice. It is easy to put off consulting an attorney after a loss in the family and too often, individuals wait months or years. You have a limited time in which to file your wrongful death claim, so it’s useful to connect with an attorney as soon possible.

The Cagle Law Firm is ready to provide the comprehensive legal support you need for your possible wrongful death suit in Florissant. Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Florissant wrongful death attorney you can trust.

Contact Us Today

The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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