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Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri?

| Feb 3, 2019 | Personal Injury |

Losing a loved one in Kansas City is never easy, particularly when their loss is unexpected. Yours and your family’s grief may be compounded even further if it is discovered that their death was due to the negligent action of another. In such a case, you may feel justified in seeking a wrongful death lawsuit to help share the burden of the financial losses your family member’s or friend’s death has forced you to deal with. The question then becomes whether you are authorized to initiate such action. 

Many states limit the opportunity to file a wrongful death lawsuit to a decedent’s personal representative. The reason for this is that the action is being brought on their behalf, and any award that results from the action will be given to their estate. The state of Missouri takes a somewhat different stance, however, in that it offers the potential to bring a wrongful death action to multiple parties. 

Per Section 537.080 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, the order in which the authority to bring an action for wrongful death proceeds as follows: 

  • Spouse and surviving descendants (either biological or adopted)
  • Parents
  • Siblings (or their descendants)
  • Plaintiff ad litem

A plaintiff ad litem is one who is nominated by one who would be entitled to share in the proceeds of any award that would result from a wrongful death claim. Thus, if you are not related to the decedent in any way, you could still bring a wrongful death action if someone such as their personal representative, business partner or even co-plaintiff requests that you endowed with such authority. 

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