Answered by Christopher Combs in Wrongful Death on March 28, 2021.

Following the sudden death of a spouse, family member, or loved one that was caused by the negligence of another party, survivors often have questions regarding what they can potentially win in a wrongful death lawsuit. Most people never expect to file these types of lawsuits, and as such are uncertain how much they could get, what all they are entitled to, and how to go about claiming these damages.

You can recover damages for monetary losses (funeral expenses, medical bills incurred before the death, etc.) as well as non-monetary losses (pain and suffering, loss of consortium, etc.) for a spouse or other loved one’s death. The experienced attorneys at Combs Waterkotte are here to help our clients learn more about potential wrongful death damages. Contact a wrongful death lawyer in St. Louis for more information.

Who Can Claim Wrongful Death Damages In Missouri

Wrongful death damages may be awarded to not just the spouses of those who’ve passed on, but the parent, child, grandchild, sibling, niece, or nephew. The preferences for who is most eligible to sue for wrongful death depends upon which class that person is in and if there are living members that outrank others in terms of class preference. Missouri law is quite specific regarding who can sue when, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with how “class status” works in a wrongful death lawsuit.

If you qualify as one of these classes of people, you may be thinking that it is somehow wrong or there’s no reason to pursue wrongful death damages because no amount of money can bring the person back into your life; however, pursuing justice is about more than just compensation— it can be about holding the person or entity accountable as well as calling attention to an act before anyone else gets hurt.

Wrongful death damages can be awarded for a variety of matters that can help soothe the pain after a loved one has passed. According to Section 537.090 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, there are three categories of losses:

1. Pecuniary Losses

Pecuniary losses are the quantifiable financial losses that you and your family incurred as a result of the wrongful death situation. These include:

  • Medical expenses up until death – Any and all medical expenses incurred for treatment of your loved one’s injuries prior to death, such as diagnostic hospital services, emergency transportation like ambulance fees or helicopters, attempts at life-saving surgery, and all other medical costs.
  • Funeral expenses – The average cost of a funeral can easily exceed $10,000. Many surviving family members have been forced to pay those costs out-of-pocket, such as transporting and sheltering the remains, a casket, embalming, cremation, a hearse, use of the funeral home, equipment, and staff.
  • Loss of earnings – The money your loved one would have made if they were not in the hospital for a period of time before succumbing to injuries. This includes wages, salary, other earnings, and benefits they would have received under normal circumstances.
  • Loss of future income/benefits – Any contributions that your loved one would have contributed to your wellbeing which you will no longer receive due to their death. This includes overall loss of future income as well as contributions to your pension plan, health insurance, or any other benefit

2. Non-Pecuniary Losses

These losses are those that cannot be measured in a dollar amount, but remain valid just the same. They seek to cover the sum total of your suffering, grief, pain, and emotional issues that develop from the wrongful death situation. These comprise a wide range of damages that are not represented by an exact monetary figure, including:

  • Bereavement of the loss (i.e. mental anguish, pain and suffering)
  • General loss of care, support, training, comfort, and protection provided by the deceased person
  • Loss of consortium (i.e. companionship and love from a spouse)
  • Loss of marital care, attention, advice, or counsel
  • Loss of parental care, guidance, education, and instruction if the loved one had a child

3. Survival Damages

Survival damages are the losses that include your loved one’s pain and suffering between the time they were injured and when they passed away. It can also include lost earnings. These types of actions may continue tort claims that your deceased loved one could have raised when they were still alive.

Wrongful Death Lawyer St. Louis | Combs Waterkotte

A number of factors are considered when determining damages in a wrongful death case including the deceased’s age, life expectancy, intelligence, character, health, condition, and earning capacity at the time of death. Some damages are often difficult to fight for and prove in court without the help of an experienced St. Louis wrongful death lawyer at Combs Waterkotte on your side. Contact us online or call (314) 900-HELP to get started on your case.


Wrongful Death