The Smith Law Office is behind one of the new cases being heard at the Circuit Court in Jackson County, Missouri. The case, a personal injury lawsuit for the wrongful death of a bar patron last August in Kansas City, involves a tricky aspect of the law that few people think of: If someone dies, how can they file a lawsuit?
The Death of Thomas Orr
The case centers on a bar fight that happened in Kansas City last August.
On August 20, 2017, Thomas Orr, an off-duty police officer from Illinois, was at the Californos bar in the Westport Entertainment District of Kansas City. While he was there, a bar fight broke out. Despite the presence of security guards at the bar – whose job was specifically to prevent weapons from getting inside – several people drew handguns during the fight. One of these people fired into a crowd of people on the patio of the Californos bar.
Thomas Orr, who was not involved in the fight and was merely an innocent bystander, was hit. The injuries he suffered proved to be fatal.
The Problem of Civil Lawsuits that Involve a Fatality
The core of personal injury law is that, if one person gets hurt by someone else, the victim can file a lawsuit against the person who caused their injuries to get compensation for their injuries.
However, this raises an interesting paradox that few people think of: If the victim dies from their injuries, they are not able to file that lawsuit. No one can file a lawsuit, if they are dead.
The implications of this paradox are serious. If you accidentally hurt someone, you could have to pay for their recovery. But if you accidentally kill someone, you cannot owe them compensation.
Wrongful Death Statutes Fix This Problem
To fix this disturbing outcome, state legislatures across the country have passed wrongful death statutes. These statutes explicitly allow certain categories of people to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim.
In Missouri, the wrongful death statute is Missouri Statute 537.080. This statute allows the spouse, descendants, or parents of the victim to file a personal injury lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. If the victim had no spouses, descendants, or parents, then his or her siblings, or their siblings’ descendants, can file the lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. If the victim had no siblings, either, then the court can appoint a “plaintiff ad litem” to pursue the case on behalf of someone who would share in the proceeds of the case.
St. Joseph Wrongful Death Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
In the case of Thomas Orr’s death, the Smith Law Office is representing Mr. Orr’s father, Thomas Orr, Jr. Mr. Orr Jr. fits into the first category of potential plaintiffs in Missouri’s wrongful death statute, and deserves to be compensated for his son’s tragic death in Californos bar. His status as the victim's father allows him to sue for battery and negligent security in his son's shoes.
The personal injury attorneys at the St. Joseph Smith Law Office strive to help those who have lost a loved one get the compensation they need to move on. Contact us online or call us at (816) 875-9373 for the legal representation you need.