Who is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?
HomeBlogWho is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?

Who is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?


Losing a loved one as a result of the negligence or wrongful actions of another party is an unimaginable tragedy. In such cases, the surviving family members may have the right to seek justice through a wrongful death lawsuit. Understanding who can file such a lawsuit in Missouri is crucial for those seeking legal recourse in the face of such a devastating loss.

The Significance of Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death cases are a critical aspect of the legal system, aiming to hold accountable those responsible for causing someone’s death due to negligence or intentional misconduct. These lawsuits provide a means for surviving family members to obtain compensation for their losses and to ensure that justice is served.

Laws and Procedures for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Before delving into who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri, it is essential to understand the basic laws that govern such claims in the state.

Statute of Limitations

In Missouri, there is a time frame within which a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed. According to Missouri Revised Statutes section 537.100, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is three years from the date of the decedent’s death. It is crucial to adhere to this deadline to preserve your right to seek compensation. Failure to timely file a wrongful death lawsuit will prohibit a person from obtaining compensation.

Burden of Proof

Like any legal claim, a wrongful death lawsuit requires that the person or family filing the lawsuit meet the burden of proof to establish liability. The burden of proof rests on the plaintiff, who must demonstrate by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant’s actions or negligence resulted in the death of their loved one.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri?

Under Missouri law, certain individuals are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These individuals include immediate family members, surviving spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. Each category has specific criteria that determine their eligibility.

Immediate Family Members

Immediate family members, such as spouses, children, and parents, have the first right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Missouri. These individuals are considered the primary beneficiaries and are typically the most directly affected by the loss. They carry the burden of proving their relationship with the deceased.

Surviving Spouses

A surviving spouse holds a significant role in a wrongful death claim. In Missouri, a surviving spouse can file a lawsuit even if they were separated from the deceased at the time of death. However, if the surviving spouse remarries before filing a claim, their eligibility may be affected.


Children of the deceased, whether biological or adopted, also have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases where the deceased had multiple children, the damages awarded are typically divided equally among them.


If the deceased did not have surviving children or a spouse, the parents of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if the parents were absent from the decedent’s life or had voluntarily terminated their parental rights, their eligibility might be affected.

Other Factors That Could Impact Eligibility

In some cases, there may be multiple claimants seeking to file a wrongful death lawsuit. When this occurs, the court will determine how the damages should be distributed among the eligible parties. Additionally, the existence of a valid will can impact the eligibility of potential claimants.

Seeking Legal Counsel

Navigating the legal complexities surrounding wrongful death claims can be challenging, particularly while dealing with the emotional aftermath of losing a loved one. It is important to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney with experience in wrongful death cases in Missouri.

Brydon, Swearengen & England P.C. has a team of dedicated attorneys ready to provide compassionate assistance and reliable guidance throughout the legal process. Our knowledge of Missouri wrongful death laws allows us to effectively advocate for your rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case and take the first step towards justice.


We Maximize Your Recovery,
With Each & Every Case
We Handle.

  • (*) required files