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Kansas vs Missouri: Wrongful Death/Survival Cases

Jim Crabtree Law July 28, 2023

Wrongful Death report and gavel If you’ve lost a loved one because of someone else’s actions —or inactions—it’s natural to feel completely overwhelmed. This is an incredibly difficult time. However, it may be possible for the surviving family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A lawsuit cannot, of course, bring back the lost loved one, but it can hold the responsible party accountable and can provide compensation for the expenses related to the decedent’s last days of medical and funeral expenses, as well as more qualitative losses like pain and suffering.  

Additionally, another type of potential lawsuit is termed a survival action, which can be brought by the decedent’s estate. 

If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence in Overland Park or anywhere in the KC Metro, contact the legal team at Jim Crabtree Law. Our wrongful death attorneys can help you understand the differences between lawsuits in Kansas and lawsuits in Missouri. Above all, we can provide compassionate, individualized service so that you can start to heal. 

Wrongful Death and Survival Action Claims

Probably the most common kind of wrongful death results from a fatal automobile accident. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 9,330 people died in traffic accidents in the first three months of 2023.  

Car accidents are certainly a prevalent source of fatalities based on negligence, but premises liability can also come into the picture. If someone is out shopping and slips and falls on a wet floor, the owner/operator can be held responsible if they did not exert reasonable care for the safety of their customers. Medical malpractice through misdiagnosis or mistreatment can also be a factor in a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Intentional acts can certainly result in wrongful death claims. For example, though O.J. Simpson was acquitted in his criminal prosecution for murdering his wife and her friend, he later lost in a wrongful death lawsuit by the families of the slain.  

Under Kansas law, a "wrongful death" occurs when "the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another." Missouri law defines a "wrongful death" as a death that 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." 

In both states, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought had the decedent been able to file a personal injury lawsuit if still alive. 

Another type of lawsuit to consider is a survival action, which can be brought by the decedent’s estate. A survival action covers the physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress between the date of the injury and the time of death. It is paid to the estate according to the decedent’s last will and testament and must be filed by the personal representative named in the will, who becomes the executor of the estate when the grantor of the will dies. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In both Kansas and Missouri, the victim’s spouse, children, and parents are generally eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, as opposed to some states that require the personal representative named in the deceased’s will to file the action. Siblings in Missouri can file the lawsuit if no one else is alive. 

What Damages Are Available?

A wrongful death lawsuit, of course, is unable to bring back a lost loved one, but it can lead to damages (compensation) for your losses. In both Kansas and Missouri, a wrongful death lawsuit can recover compensation for both economic and non-economic losses, including: 

  • medical expenses relating to the injury and death of the loved one 

  • funeral, burial, or other expenses for the loved one 

  • lost wages, including future income that was sacrificed due to the untimely demise of the person 

  • the value of household services the loved one ordinarily performed 

  • the survivors’ mental anguish, suffering, and bereavement 

  • loss of the deceased person’s companionship, support, care, and guidance 

Statute of Limitations

Generally speaking, in Kansas, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Missouri, the time limit is three years. 

Help When You Need It Most

The tragedy of needlessly losing a loved one cannot be overstated. The trauma and emotional burden can be great. Filing a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind--but it can bring accountability to the party responsible and also help recover for your expenses. 

If you’ve lost a loved one because of someone else’s reckless actions or inactions in Kansas or Missouri, contact our lawyers at Jim Crabtree Law. We will help you file a wrongful death or survival action lawsuit as part of the healing process.

Our team provides services throughout the KC Metro areas of Kansas and Missouri, including Wyandotte County, Johnson County, Independence, and North Kansas City.