At Palmer Law Group, our Topeka-based attorneys are dedicated to assisting those who have suffered harm due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct of others, including wrongful death plaintiffs.
Wrongful death litigation can be rather complex and confusing, causing many to shy away from legal action altogether. We can help. We have extensive experience representing clients in wrongful death litigation and we understand how to effectively navigate such disputes and maximize the potential damages.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims happen when someone’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct cause or contribute to an individual’s death.
In Kansas, wrongful death claims generally give rise to two distinct claims: a survival claim and a wrongful death claim.
The survival claim is essentially the personal injury claim of the person who passed away and includes damages for that person’s conscious pain and suffering, medical bills, and other expenses. This claim generally belongs to the deceased person’s estate.
The wrongful death claim belongs to the “heirs at law” of the deceased person, which are generally the surviving family members of the deceased individual. The eligible family member (or other dependents) asserts a claim for damages based on the losses they suffer as a direct result of their loved one’s death.
Damages vary depending on the circumstances (i.e., relationship of the deceased to the wrongful death plaintiff), and may include:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of society, comfort, protection
- Loss of marital care
- Loss of parental care, guidance, education
- Loss of filial affection
- Out-of-pocket medical and funeral expenses
- Mental anguish
- Loss of household services
- And more
How does this all fit together? Consider the following: suppose that your father is killed in an accident due to the negligence of an intoxicated truck driver on the road. You bring a lawsuit against the truck driver for the wrongful death of your father. Included in that lawsuit is the survival claim for your father’s conscious pain and suffering, medical bills, and other associated expenses.
Now, your father provided significant financial support and was an important emotional figure in your life. You could ostensibly recover damages for that lost financial support, as well as the loss of guidance and companionship.
Wrongful Death Eligibility in Kansas
Not every surviving family member or dependent is necessarily entitled to recover wrongful death damages. In Kansas, the legal heirs of the deceased may have a right of action. Some examples of potential heirs include the following:
- Spouse of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
- Siblings of the deceased
- Grandparents of the deceased
In situations where multiple heirs exist and a judgment or settlement is obtained, Kansas law requires an apportionment hearing to determine the nature and extent of each person’s loss. The Court will then apportion the damages according to its findings.
For explanation, assume that the unmarried father of three children is killed in an automobile accident. The three children are ages 22, 26, and 11. The Court would generally look to the damages incurred by each child in apportioning the settlement. In this example, it is highly likely that the Court would apportion more of the settlement to the 11-year-old as that child presumably still relied on the father for support.
How Can I Determine Whether I Have a Valid Wrongful Death Claim?
We encourage you to call us at 888-373-8217 or send us a message through our website to schedule a free consultation with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. During this confidential consultation, we will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your claims and work with you to identify possible avenues for recovery.
At Palmer Law Group, we understand just how emotionally difficult and confusing it can be in the wake of a family member’s untimely death and are committed to helping others evaluate their wrongful death claims and push forward with litigation when appropriate. With a legitimate and valid wrongful death claim, the surviving family members can secure compensation necessary for covering their expenses and approximating their pre-accident lifestyle.
We don’t get paid until we win your case. Over the years, we have helped thousands of people navigate their personal injury and wrongful death cases in the state of Kansas and have secured substantial results for our clients.