Wrongful death statutes originated out of a need to compensate the family of a decedent “whose life was wrongfully taken.” Closely related to wrongful death statutes are survivorship statutes, which allow for the transmission of tort claims after the death of one or more of the parties. These statutes help address the once common maxim that it’s cheaper to kill a man than to maim him. Today, all fifty states have both wrongful death and survivorship statutes. In Mickels v. Danrad, the Supreme Court of Missouri declined to allow wrongful death claims where a defendant’s negligence accelerates the death of a terminally ill decedent. However, the court determined that a decedent’s family may have a survivorship claim for personal injuries not resulting in death. In doing so, the court perpetuated a trend that fails to accomplish the intended goal of wrongful death statutes: to compensate a decedent’s family. Part II of this Note looks at the facts and holding of Mickels. Part III examines the wrongful death and survivorship claims as well as the past precedent of such claims in the context of medical malpractice and improper diagnoses. Part IV then introduces the wrongful death and survivorship issues presented in Mickels. Finally, Part V distinguishes Mickels from precedent and argues in favor of the dissent.
Immunity from Wrongful Death Liability: How Mickels Fails to Compensate,
82 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol82/iss3/14