Joplin personal injury attorney A fatal wood chipper accident reminds us of the importance of workplace safety. It also demonstrates how a personal injury claim could evolve into a claim for wrongful death. As our Joplin personal injury attorney has experienced, some personal injury claims may start out as simple injury claims, but if that injury becomes fatal, a wrongful death claim may be applicable as well.

Napa man dies after wood chipper accident

On August 15, 2017, Jeremy Booth was injured as he worked on a Napa City project to trim and remove trees in a particular neighborhood. The 24-year-old Napa resident was putting limbs into a large industrial wood chipper as his coworkers were using ropes to lower the tree limbs to him. One of the ropes accidentally fell into the wood chipper and entangled Booth around the neck. Despite his crew members shutting the machine off before Booth could be pulled into the machine, his injuries were still quite serious.
He was taken to the hospital where he stayed in intensive care for five days. However, on August 20, 2017, he died from his critical injuries. As was his wish, his organs were donated, giving a heart and kidney to one patient and a liver and kidney to another patient.

Questions about Wrongful Death Cases

There is no question that the unexpected death of a loved one is devastating.  The loss will take both an emotional and financial toll on every family.  When a death is unexpectedly caused by the negligence of someone else, it may be difficult to know where to begin.  Your personal injury lawyer can tell you where to start.

You may need help with your wrongful death claim

Although there is nothing that can replace your loved one, or make up for the sense of loss felt by family and friends of the victim, there may be some compensation available for the financial losses.  Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be the first step to obtaining that recovery.  However, wrongful death can be a complicated area of the law to navigate, so knowing how to choose a wrongful death attorney can be very helpful when that time comes.

What is involved in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death is a complex area of law that involves both the legal elements of typical personal injury claim, as well as, certain state-specific limitations and requirements. Therefore, it is critical that you select a lawyer with sufficient experience and expertise in this area of the law. It is also vital that you act quickly because all wrongful death lawsuits are subject to statutes of limitations, which is the time limit for filing your claims in court.

Common types of wrongful death cases

Wrongful death claims, that is claims that arise due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, are most often brought to court when a person is killed in an auto accident, been exposed to toxic poisoning, defective drugs or defective products.  If you can find a wrongful death attorney that has substantial experience in the area of personal injury that is involved, your chances of a successful recovery will likely increase.

Who can bring a wrongful death claim in court?

The personal representative appointed to handle the estate of the deceased person is required to file the wrongful death claim in Arkansas. If no such person has been appointed, then the claim can be filed by the deceased’s legal heirs, which would typically include the “surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings; individuals standing “in loco parentis,”(in place of the parent) and individuals to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis.”
In Missouri, on the other hand, the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren have first priority to bring a wrongful death claim. The parents of the deceased would be next in line.  Usually, when the claim involves the death of a child (minor), the parents will file the wrongful death suit.  If none of those individuals have survived the deceased, then a surviving sibling can bring the claim.

What can you recover in wrongful death cases?

In both Arkansas and Missouri, the survivors of the deceased are allowed to seek damages on behalf of the deceased, as well as compensation for their own personal losses, as a result of their loved one’s untimely death. This compensation received can help to alleviate medical bills and other expenses that may have been incurred, such as funeral expenses. This is not true in every state.  For example, in Alabama damages in wrongful death cases are purely punitive in nature.

Deadlines for filing wrongful death claims

Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state.  This deadline or time limit is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.” In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years.
Because wrongful death actions can be rather complicated claims to litigate, often more complex than basic personal injury cases, and typically result in a large damage award, it would be a good idea to consult with your personal injury lawyer.
If you have questions regarding wrongful death or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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