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What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit due to the death of a person caused by negligence or acts of misconduct by another, and under Kansas statutory law, the person who caused the death is responsible for their conduct, either through their negligence or through their intentional acts. They are legally responsible for the damages caused to the family of the person who died. A wrongful death cause of action or claim is for the damages caused to the family, and all of this is governed by article 19 under chapter 60 of the Kansas Code. It’s all a matter of statute, and so in order to understand how these wrongful death claims actually operate, you have to go to the statute since it governs most of the rules pertaining to how such a claim is prosecuted.

Who Is Allowed To Bring A Wrongful Death Claim?

The legal heirs of the deceased can bring a wrongful death claim against the person, entity or business that caused the death of an individual. Legal heirs typically are the children or parents of the deceased, but in all reality, it can be any heir or person who stands to inherit that can make the claim. Anybody who is damaged by the death and who is related to the person who died may be an heir that could bring a wrongful death case.

What Are The Top Misconceptions About Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

The first misconception is that when people die as a result of misconduct, there is no case because it dies with the person who would have had the case. Believe it or not, that is a common misperception by many folks in Kansas. The other thing that people misperceive about wrongful death is the amount of recovery and the types of recovery as a result of the death. The damages in these cases measure those things that can be brought if the person had survived but didn’t. This may be a common misperception as well.

The third misconception is that people think they have plenty of time to file a wrongful death claim but wait too long, so they end up not making it in a timely fashion. Lastly, people think or believe that if they make the claim and are an heir to the person who died, they are the ones making the claim and get all of the recovery, and that’s just not true. The court will ask who the other heirs are, and the court will apportion the proceedings among all of the heirs even if an heir does not actively participate in the wrongful death lawsuit. So, just because you are the one making the case and pursuing the case doesn’t mean that you are necessarily going to end up with all of the proceeds.

What Economic Damages Is Someone Entitled To In A Wrongful Death Claim?

The elements of damages are set forth under K.S.A. 60-1904, and they include mental anguish, suffering or bereavement; the loss of society, companionship, comfort or protection; the loss of marital care, attention, advice or counsel; the loss of family care or attention; the loss of parental care, training, guidance or education; and reasonable funeral expenses for the deceased.

These are technical and specific terms that, in many cases, require experts to evaluate the economic aspect of an individual’s death. Sometimes it can be difficult to quantify certain losses, like parental care training, guidance or education, and what they are worth. But an economist, along with an expert on values of loss of a parent, are often used to evaluate these values in each individual case and explain how each thing is assessed a value based upon the loss.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Wrongful Death Claim?

For a negligence action in Kansas, there is a two-year statute of limitations, and in an intentional action for wrongful death, it’s a one-year statute of limitations. Both of these statutes of limitations have exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, it is two years for negligence and one year for intentional misconduct. If an estate has been opened, then all claims need to be made against that estate within six months of the date that the estate was opened, which is called a claim’s statute. Arguably, that statute of limitations could be shortened by the opening of an estate; so if you are aware that the estate has been opened, you probably need to meet with the attorney or seek out an attorney to see how it is going to affect your time limitations.