When you suffer the loss of a loved one, you grieve their death, future dreams and plans you had, and your sense of normalcy. Your unexpected loss can affect your daily life and finances, which is why you may consider filing a wrongful death claim. Below, we discuss the legal definition of wrongful death, who can file a lawsuit, and what damages may be available to you.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined in Tennessee?
In the event of a death caused by someone else’s negligence, surviving family members can sue for “wrongful death.” According to Tennessee Code § 20-5-106, wrongful death cases result from the death of a person (fetus) that is caused by:
- Injuries they received from someone else
- “the wrongful act, omission, or killing by another” person
Wrongful death cases are personal injury claims that are brought forward by others on behalf of the decedent. Similar to personal injury cases, wrongful death suits can arise after:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice incidents
- Criminal acts
- And more
It is important to note that wrongful death suits are civil cases, and even if you are suing after a crime led to your loved one’s death, the civil case has no bearing on the criminal prosecution. While a defendant may face both a wrongful death claim and criminal charges, the case results are independent of one another.
In criminal court, the prosecution must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the accused is guilty of a crime. In a wrongful death suit, the burden of proof relates to the defendant’s liability and negligent actions.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Legally, only certain individuals can file a wrongful death claim. The “right of action” first falls to the decedent’s spouse. If the decedent was not married or their surviving spouse abandoned the marriage 2 or more years before their passing, the following family members can file a wrongful death claim:
- Children or next of kin
- A personal representative of the decedent’s estate
- Biological or adoptive parents (if the decedent was in their custody at the time of death)
Wrongful death claims should be filed within one year of the deceased’s passing. In some instances, this limit can be extended (see Tennessee Code § 28-3-104). Because of this time constraint, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Case?
If the case succeeds, the filing party can expect to receive damages including compensation for your losses. You may be reimbursed for:
- Hospital bills
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
You can also receive damages for losses associated with pain and suffering (of the deceased and/or the surviving family) or the loss of companionship. Calculating damages can be legally complex, which is why you need an attorney at your side.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Attorneys
At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, our attorneys have nearly 40 years of combined experience. We are known for being reliable advocates who pride ourselves on providing aggressive yet affordable legal counsel. If you retain our firm, we can help you with your wrongful death suit by:
- Filing the necessary paperwork
- Answering any questions or concerns you might have
- Investigating the circumstances concerning the accident and negligence
- Enlisting the help of specialists (such as medical experts or accident reconstructionists)
- Finding witnesses and evidence for the case
- Working to obtain a favorable outcome
- Acting with your best interests in mind
For help with your wrongful death claim, contact us online or at (423) 299-4489. Let us fight for you and your loved ones.