A fatal car accident left a local St. Joseph business owner dead. The incident highlights how it can be difficult to determine lost wages under Missouri’s wrongful death law.
Single-Vehicle Car Accident Kills St. Joseph Business Owner
According to a report by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Joshua Oliver was heading northbound on U.S. Highway 169 in the afternoon of November 14, 2021. About a half mile south of St. Joseph, his vehicle left the highway, went airborne, hit a tree, and overturned. He was rushed to Mosaic Life Care, where he was pronounced dead.
Mr. Oliver had just opened a barbershop in downtown St. Joseph on May 18.
What Compensation is Available in a Missouri Wrongful Death Claim?
When a victim dies in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, the victim’s family members can file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party. Under Missouri Statute 537.080, the victim’s family can recover compensation for:
- Medical bills,
- Funeral and burial expenses,
- The victim’s pain and suffering,
- The family’s loss of consortium and companionship, and
- Wages or other income that the victim would have earned, had he or she survived the accident.
This compensation would come from the party who caused the accident. In this particular case, the fatal accident was a single-vehicle crash. However, that does not necessarily mean that the victim was responsible. Single-vehicle crashes can be caused by defective car parts, which can lead to a products liability claim, or even defective roadways. If either of these was the case, the victim’s family could file a lawsuit against the relevant car company or the local municipality.
Lost Wages are Difficult to Calculate for Business Owners
In fatal accidents, lost wages and benefits are a considerable share of the potential compensation that the victim’s family can recover, especially when the victim was in mid-career.
Calculating those lost wages is fairly straightforward when the victim was in a stable, salaried position. It can be as simple as multiplying the annual salary by the number of years left before retirement, and adding cost of living increases and reasonably expected raises.
For business owners, though, the lost financial benefits that can be recovered are in the form of business profits. These can fluctuate, even in businesses that have been around for a long time. For new businesses, there is very little data to use to determine what a “normal” year looks like.
In many cases, it takes expert testimony to get a sense of what a business could expect to make, and what the victim’s family is entitled to receive in a wrongful death claim.
Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Calculating the lost wages of business owners is a challenge in workers’ compensation law, as well. The personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office can use their experience representing victims in both workplace accidents as well as car accidents to ensure that victims and their families recover the compensation that they deserve.
Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373 for legal representation in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri.