Can You Sue for Wrongful Death in a Motorcycle Accident Claim?

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Wrongful death lawsuits are similar to personal injury lawsuits in that certain eligible survivors can take legal action on behalf of a victim who dies from his or her injuries. When someone passes away because of another party’s negligent conduct, these survivors can seek a number of damages stemming from the loss of their family member.

No amount of money or legal action can bring back a loved one. But a motorcycle accident wrongful death lawsuit can help cover expenses caused by the death and bring a sense of justice and closure to survivors. If a family member of yours died in a motorcycle accident because of someone’s negligence, let the Kansas City, MO, motorcycle accident attorneys of Aramjoo Law Firm represent you.

Fatal Motorcycle Accident Statistics in Missouri

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports that, as of early August 2023, there have been 87 motorcycle accident deaths. This places the state on track to potentially top 100 deaths by the end of the year. In all of 2022, Missouri had 81 motorcycle deaths.

This recently observed spike in fatalities has been attributed to changes in the state’s helmet law. Motorcycle helmets are now optional for anyone over the age of 26 who has health insurance. State troopers contend that since this change, fatalities have jumped as high as 33% in some parts of Missouri. Data indicates that the state had the seventh-highest increase in motorcycle deaths since the helmet law change.

These aren’t the only disturbing motorcycle accident statistics. There has also been a 36 percent increase in the number of deaths among riders who don’t have a motorcycle license. Meanwhile, fully one-third of all motorcycle fatalities involve alcohol.

Missouri is one of the deadliest states with respect to motorcycle accidents, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. For every 10,000 riders, the state has an 11.9% fatality rate, which is the third highest in the nation.

Filing for Wrongful Death After a Motorcycle Accident in Missouri

Wrongful death claims are intended to seek damages from irresponsible drivers and others who cause victims to not only suffer a personal injury but to die from it. Only certain survivors are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. They are as follows, in the order of priority:

  • The surviving spouse or children of the victim
  • Descendants of the victim’s children who died before (predeceased) the victim
  • Surviving parents
  • Surviving siblings
  • Children of surviving siblings
  • The personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate

In the event there is no personal representative of the deceased’s estate, a plaintiff ad litem can be appointed. Only an individual who is entitled to share in the proceeds of a wrongful death claim can request this.

It’s important to understand that eligible survivors have only a certain amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The deadline is known as a statute of limitations. A plaintiff must file their claim within three years of the date of the victim’s death. After that, the claim will not be allowed, and the survivors won’t be able to recover compensation for the victim’s wrongful death.

Compensation in a Motorcycle Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Damages in a wrongful death motorcycle accident case are somewhat similar, though not identical, to those available in a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff must prove that he or she suffered certain financial losses because of the victim’s death. More specifically, in a wrongful death claim involving a fatal motorcycle accident, the survivor or personal representative can ask for the following compensation:

  • Victim damages: These are damages the victim would have been entitled to seek had he or she not died from the injury, including medical bills and pain and suffering.
  • Final expenses: The victim’s funeral and burial expenses.
  • Services: More commonly known as the reasonable value of consortium, services, companionship, guidance, training, support, instruction, and comfort that the deceased provided to his or her family members during his or her life.
  • Wages and benefits: The value of wages and benefits the deceased victim would have reasonably earned and contributed during his or her lifetime if the victim had lived.
  • Value of care: If the victim was not employed full-time when he or she died but was caring for another family member (e.g., a sick or aging relative or child) at least 50% of the time, there is a rebuttable presumption that the value of the care was worth 110% of the state’s average weekly wage.
  • Punitive damages: Available in cases involving particularly negligent, reckless, or malicious conduct on the part of the at-fault party that caused the victim’s death.

Damages are not available for the grief or bereavement that the plaintiff may be suffering because of the loss of the victim’s life. In determining the amount to award, a court may also consider any aggravating or mitigating circumstances related to the case.

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Motorcycle Accident Case?

Having an attorney represent you in your motorcycle accident wrongful death lawsuit will greatly improve the likelihood that you recover the damages you and your family deserve. An experienced attorney will work on your behalf by:

  • Thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death
  • Acquiring the evidence needed to build a compelling wrongful death legal case
  • Determining the value of your claim, including by consulting expert witnesses
  • Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company to reach a fair settlement, if possible
  • Taking your case to court in the event the insurance company and at-fault party will not negotiate in good faith

It is not recommended that you negotiate with the insurer on your own. As a general matter, insurance companies are not on the side of victims’ families. You may receive a call from a claims adjuster or other representative who sounds sympathetic.

Be warned — the point of this call is to gather information that can be used against you. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses and will work hard to either pay you as little as possible or deny the claim outright.

Insurers also tend to be biased against motorcycle victims. They view them as dangerous or somehow responsible for the accident, no matter what evidence points to the at-fault party’s negligence. Sometimes, this bias can affect the attitudes of jurors as well. A skilled motorcycle accident wrongful death attorney will stand up for you and your family’s rights from start to finish.

Contact Aramjoo Law Firm to File a Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Did you lose your loved one in a motorcycle accident? You deserve dedicated, compassionate, and professional legal counsel. Connect with Aramjoo Law Firm to get started today.

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