The most tragic cases any law firm handles are the ones where a loved one dies due to the negligence or fault of another. While a lawsuit can never fully compensate for the loss of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit should compensate the family of the victim to the maximum extent the law allows, which can help ease the stress that comes with overwhelming bills and other financial burdens.
How the case begins depends a lot on the age and family circumstances of the person who died. In Tennessee, a wrongful death action does not belong to the estate of the deceased, rather, by statute, the action passes to certain enumerated family members. The decedent’s surviving spouse generally has right to pursue the lawsuit. If no spouse, the decedent’s children have the next right and then lastly the decedent’s next of kin (e.g., surviving parents or siblings).
In some cases, the decedent appointed someone outside the family as the executor. That executor may also have the right to file the wrongful death action if no family members qualify.
There are generally a few practical steps that family members should review with experienced wrongful death lawyers before starting the wrongful death lawsuit. The family needs to obtain a death certificate to verify the death of the loved one.
Who are the beneficiaries of the wrongful death claim?
The people who are entitled to a share of any recovery include generally include the spouse, the children, and the parents of a deceased minor child. The proportions can vary. A surviving spouse receives an equal share with the children or one-third of the recovery, whichever is greater.
Damages in wrongful death cases
The types of damages that are awarded, once liability is established, can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Any medical bills to treat the decedent before death
- Any loss of income between the accident date and date of death
- Any pain and suffering of the decedent between the accident date and death
- The loss of wages and benefits the decedent would have provided family members but for the wrongful death – minus the expenses the decedent would have needed to pay to support their life.
- The loss of love, society, and affection the decedent would have provided the family members
Tennessee requires that all wrongful death claims be filed within one year of the death.
At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we have the experience and resources to hold responsible parties accountable for ending the life of a loved one. To schedule a free consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys, please call (865) 428-8780 or use our contact form. We fight for families in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding Tennessee locations.