Missouri Wrongful Death Laws

The Missouri Wrongful Death Statute can be found in § 537.080 R.S.Mo.  Pursuant to the Act, whenever the death of a person results from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof, the person or party who, or the corporation which, would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable in an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, which damages may be sued for:

(1) By the spouse or children or the surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children, natural or adopted, legitimate or illegitimate, or by the father or mother of the deceased, natural or adoptive;

(2) If there be no persons in class (1) entitled to bring the action, then by the brother or sister of the deceased, or their descendants, who can establish his or her right to those damages set out in section 537.090 because of the death;

(3) If there be no persons in class (1) or (2) entitled to bring the action, then by a plaintiff ad litem.  Such plaintiff ad litem shall be appointed by the court having jurisdiction over the action for damages provided in this section upon application of some person entitled to share in the proceeds of such action.  Such plaintiff ad litem shall be some suitable person competent to prosecute such action and whose appointment is requested on behalf of those persons entitled to share in the proceeds of such action.  Such court may, in its discretion, require that such plaintiff ad litem give bond for the faithful performance of his duties.

Only one action may be brought under this section against any one defendant for the death of any one person[i].

On the trial of such action to recover damages for causing death, the defendant may plead and prove as a defense any defense which the defendant would have had against the deceased in an action based upon the same act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which caused the death of the deceased, and which action for damages the deceased would have been entitled to bring had death not ensued.

[i] § 537.080 R.S.Mo.


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