When deciding to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, it is understandably confusing to the family as to who actually brings the lawsuit. Fortunately, at Shull & Klenda, we are happy to guide a family through this process and explain the law and its potential options.
For example, Missouri has specific rules as to who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. According to the law, there are different “categories” of family members. First in line to bring a wrongful death lawsuit is the surviving spouse, parents, or children of the decedent. If there are no individuals in this category, then sibling of the decedent can bring suit. If there are no siblings to bring suit, then a court can appoint a “plaintiff ad litem” to handle the claim.
In Kansas, a wrongful death lawsuit is brought by an “heir at law.” The term “heir at law” refers to “one who takes by intestate succession” (i.e. without a will). Notably, the Kansas wrongful death statute allows any heir to enter into the case, even if that person did not join the original lawsuit.
In most instances, the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, and grandparents may join in the wrongful death lawsuit.