A major injury or death of a loved one caused by the negligence of another party is a heartbreaking situation. A settlement or jury award is meant to offset some of the pain and anguish of the situation, but it offers no comfort to the bereaved when they must then fight over the settlement or jury award with an estranged family member who only came back into the picture once money became involved.

In a recent case, my client’s 22-year-old daughter was tragically killed in an automobile accident. My client was a single mother who worked multiple jobs to support her daughter. The young woman was killed when another driver, who was on a newly prescribed medication, ran an intersection, violently colliding with my client’s daughter’s vehicle. Since the man who ran the intersection was clearly at fault, the insurance company settled for a significant but confidential amount after suit was filed and we received the employee’s personnel file. Then the father reentered the picture.

The father of the deceased young woman had recently been released from prison, where he had spent almost the entirety of his daughter’s life. He was never married to the mother, never paid child support, and was never available for emotional or financial support during his daughter’s life.

The father had attempted to undermine settlement negotiations by demanding that we agree to give him a certain amount from the settlement, or he would try to contest the adequacy of the settlement. My client wasn’t interested in reaching an agreement prior to settlement.

In a Missouri wrongful death case, one party may settle on behalf of all potential claimants. I settled the case with the insurance company for a confidential but significant amount. Missouri law also dictates that if eligible claimants can’t agree on the apportionment of the settlement proceeds, then a hearing must take place and the judge decides the issue. Although the father spent nearly his daughter’s entire life behind bars, he was an eligible claimant, and was potentially entitled to a portion of the settlement proceeds.

My client wanted to avoid an emotional and contested apportionment hearing, she gave me the authority to make a one-time offer to the father for 6% of the settlement (which did add up to a significant amount of money), with the understanding that if he didn’t accept the deal, there would be an apportionment hearing. His attorney countered demanding nearly half of the settlement.

An apportionment hearing ensued. On the stand, the father tried to downplay the amount of time that he spent in prison, but we had the official documents that showed when he entered and when he was released. The court ultimately awarded him significantly less than what we offered. Greed got the best of him, and unfortunately, in situations like these, money can bring out the worst in people. The mother had spent 22 years working multiple jobs to raise her daughter on her own, and the father admitted himself that he had not contributed. The whole situation was incredibly distasteful, but in the end, justice prevailed.

If you have suffered a major injury or have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person, we can help. Our compassionate and experienced Kansas City personal injury attorneys may be able to help you get the financial compensation you deserve. To discuss your case with us in more detail, contact us today for a free consultation by calling (816) 531-6006.